10:27 AM, 29th April 2016, About 8 years ago 67

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COURT OF APPEAL UPDATE - West Brom Tracker case
Our legal team from Cotswold Barristers and Michael Ashcroft QC were superb at The Court of Appeal. Three judges sat on the panel to hear our case, two Lords Justices of Appeal and one Lady Justice, the most eminent being the Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division and third most senior Judge in the UK

For those who don’t know, with the backing of over 400 other landlords I took up a legal battle with the West Bromwich Mortgage Company.

The background to the case is that the mortgage lender provided me with a fixed rate mortgage which reverted after an initial fixed rate period to a tracker rate mortgage at bank base rate plus 1.99% to the term end. The loan term was 25 years.

In September 2013, along with thousands of other borrowers who had similar mortgages, I received a letter stating that my mortgage lender was varying my interest rate despite there being no change to the base rate. As if that wasn’t enough to make me furious, their letter carried a veiled threat, stating they had to increase the rate for their own commercial purposes, failing which they would have to consider calling in the loan. Note that my loan wasn’t and has never been in default.

Thankfully, enough other landlords were equally furious and we found each other via Property118. Without their financial support I would not have been able to mount a legal battle of this nature.

The rate rise only affected me to the tune of just over £100 a month but that wasn’t the point. It was about the principle.

Over £500,000 has been raised to fight this case!

We knew the West Brom would play dirty and do all they could to run up legal bills in the hope that we would drop our case. Before this move the Building Society was losing millions every year. This rate rise secured their solvency and returned their failing business back into a profitable position.

Needless to say, they underestimated our resolve.

We should have a verdict in a few weeks time, we are not sure exactly when.

Win or lose, I am incredibly proud that landlords were able to come together to show the world that big financial institutions must not assume that just because they have deeper pockets than their customers they are always in the right. Our group has achieved something that the landlord associations refused to entertain. We fought back!

Even if the Appeal Court Judges were to decide that technically the West Brom contract is how the West Brom lawyers perceive it, this case has shown the world the true colours of this building society. If the lender had made it clear to any of the affected borrowers that their contracts were intended to enable them to vary tracker mortgage margins, or to call in a 25 year loan with just 30 days notice without it being in default, I very much doubt that any borrower, or indeed broker, would have given them their business.

All who attended the Appeal today are as confident as I am that justice will prevail. The prior preparation and planning and the level of detail and the commitment to research undertaken by the team at Cotswold Barristers was admirably extensive and could not have been better presented by Michael Ashcroft

We all felt the three Appeal Judges were able to see through the ludicrous excuses made by the mortgage lender and the unfairness of what they’ve done. It could of course simply be that the judges were “playing to the gallery” but their cutting remarks to the QC representing West Brom seemed very genuine to all in the room.

The Court room was packed!

We live in hope that landlords will continue to come together and fight injustice, whether that comes from mortgage lenders, government policy or elsewhere.

The landlords associations continually fail to represent landlords when it really counts, this case is just one example, there have been far too many others. It is down to all is to fight injustices, of which there are many,  #tenanttax being the hot topic of late.

Please share this message with as many landlords as you know.

If we do win this case, we would like to think it will inspire other landlords to unite, raise funds and fight similar cases where we know we are in the right.

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David Lawrenson

16:29 PM, 4th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "04/05/2016 - 14:03":

Smart man... getting out before the West Brom have to write back and reimburse thousands of borrowers... But he will have to write off more money at BoI once Property118 have them in their sights, after a West Brom win

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:29 PM, 4th May 2016, About 8 years ago

There is a very good article in Mortgage Strategy regarding case >>>

Nigel Parry

22:29 PM, 4th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Mark, it is excellent that you have managed to mobilise an effort to take WBBS to task. This case will have ramifications beyond, as you mention Bank of Ireland, to name just one. A lot of my landlords (when I ran a Lettings Agency) were incensed at the 'random' hike imposed. Most took their cases to the Ombudsman and failed, so this will, hopefully, give them all hope for the future.

I do, however, need to take you to task a little bit over your comment, "landlords associations continually fail to represent landlords when it really counts". As a director of EMPO, the regional association for landlords in the East Midlands, we have taken a Council to judicial review on the basis of their flawed implementation of escalated Licensing, which left us with a legal bill of nearly £50,000. Whilst this is significantly smaller than your pot, we as an association took the decision to fund the action (with landlord's approval and some contributions) on the basis that it was in the best interests of the region that we represented, and went some way to persuade other councils in the area away from implementing a similar regime without consultation.

Our pockets may not be as deep, but we have nonetheless taken a stand when in the interests of our membership. We have also backed other associations (both in terms if finance and time) in some other battles that have been made over the last few years. It is only the lack of media interest (despite our PR efforts) that has removed these fights from your radar, but please believe me there have been a few, albeit not as high profile.

We all hope the verdict will be based on rational reasoning and not political bias. Well done and keep up the good work.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

23:26 PM, 4th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Nigel Parry" at "04/05/2016 - 22:29":

Hi Barry

I am, indeed, aware of EMPO and your successes. To be clear I wasn't referring to all Landlords associations, just those who some might feel have lost direction since allying themselves to certain deposit protection providers.

I would describe Mick Roberts, who regularly post here, as a "raving fan" of EMPO. Despite getting him a cheaper deal on his landlords insurance he decided to stick where he is because he knew that EMPO would receive commission. Now that's true loyalty.

Keep up the good work and I really hope that we will be able to work closer with you.

Mick Roberts

7:21 AM, 6th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Ooh Dear,

I just spotted this by accident.

Nigel, what you've just said there, & I han't got time to get into a debate here because I love Giles & Adeela who run EMPO.

But I have told them-Frank Hardy who started EMPO-Who wanted me to sit on the board at EMPO-on many occasions, that because a lot of the people who are at the top of EMPO have student HIMO digs in Radford, Lenton etc., then EMPO concentrate on them cases, they concentrate in that area & forget us Landlords in Housing Benefit, outer Nottingham etc.
Just as you've said above, took council to court on Licensing. As brutal as it is, I ain't interested in Licensing HIMO's.

EMPO have improved last few years in that regard, but many of us Landlords in the NG5 NG6 etc. areas, still talk about the way EMPO look after 'their own'. Don't take that negatively, 'cause Giles is doing brilliant with EMPO at moment, but there's still a bit too much 'HIMO' effort in emails etc. And Giles & Adeela are trying to not be seen as this.

Yes. & I decide to stay with EMPO, because I believe they get about £800 commission from my House Insurance renewals.

Here's a project for u Barry, Bill Irvine who runs I'm trying to get EMPO to email ALL landlords, so Bill can come Nottingham do a seminar, he needs about 20 Landlords & a room, I have 3 Landlords including me willing to pay-Keep me happy & get that started eh?

When I get time, I'm gonna' put it out on (with Marks permission ha ha), to try contact all Nottingham Landlords to get interest in Bill to come Nottingham.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

8:10 AM, 7th May 2016, About 8 years ago

I received an email from David Bowden Law yesterday evening with links to a Lexis Nexis report on the trial. The two links make particularly interesting reading. The email is as follows .....

Mark – we met briefly last week before this started when you were talking to Mark Smith. Where I was sat the hearing was excellent so I made a full note. LexisPSL has published a short news piece on it this week that I wrote. It summarises what the 3 judges said. You might want to see it. If so it is here and here. You can link to these if you want and re-publish them on your website. These pieces are edited down from the full copy (pdf attached) originally submitted.

I expect you will get judgment towards the end of July 2016 and they won’t make you wait until October after the long summer vacation the court has. Are you up for an interview on the outcome when we get to that point?

Robert M

20:27 PM, 8th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mick Roberts" at "06/05/2016 - 07:21":

Count me in for Bill Irvine's training course, if you manage to persuade him to come down to this area.

David Lawrenson

11:12 AM, 9th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "07/05/2016 - 08:10":

The links make interesting reading.
Let's wait and see.
I'll be checking in from my Greek holiday if it is end of July.

Stuart Chell

12:05 PM, 11th May 2016, About 8 years ago

I have only just found this and have been struggling in isolation with The Mortgage Business. They changed the rate and I have been struggling like hell. I will be following this now with close attention. Thank you.

Mark Smith Head of Chambers Cotswold Barristers

12:20 PM, 11th May 2016, About 8 years ago

Has this affected anyone else?

Stuart, please pm me with all the details.

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