Simon Williams

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Monday 11th July 2016

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 26

Simon Williams

2 weeks ago
Is it worth the hassle of trying to get tenant to pay?

In these situations, I generally don't bother provided they are otherwise good tenants paying their rent on time. However, I would point out to the tenant, as Lord Denning famously said in Warren v Keen (1954), that they must treat a property in a "tenant-like manner" which means taking due care of things and attending themselves to the little things around the property. This case is actually quite useful because it counters the misconception that the tenant is under absolutely no obligation to do anything other than avoid trashing the place.
I might also point out, in a friendly way, that an increase in landlords costs could, in time, lead to an increase in rents - not to mention a possible deposit deduction.

I also concur with David Price's view - the less you supply in a tenancy, the less there is to go wrong.... Read More

Simon Williams

2 weeks ago
No notice, because "it's my house"!

There are firms of solicitors that will represent tenants on a no-win-no-fee basis where landlords have failed to register deposits, so provided you have clear evidence a deposit was taken, that could be a relatively easy win.

If you are in possession of a property (and not a lodger living with landlord in their home) the law will automatically assume you have a tenancy agreement (not a licence) and it will be very hard for a landlord to rebut that presumption. Even if you didn't have any paperwork, that would still be so. The courts will simply imply reasonable terms and conditions.

You almost certainly breached the tenancy contract by changing the locks, but that of course does not excuse criminal behaviour by the landlord.

If you want to take your landlord "to the cleaners" you probably can, but it will need time and energy. You could offer him the alternative of your full deposit refunded plus compensation. He will doubtless refuse initially, but a good solicitors letter and threat of a massive criminal fine may change his mind.... Read More

Simon Williams

3 weeks ago
GMB Union warns business and blames policy not landlords!

GMB talk about "much higher rents" but a national average PRS rent rise of just 18.2% over a decade is remarkably low and indeed well below CPI inflation for the same period. Even in London, the rises have barely kept up. To my mind, it shows the PRS was actually quite a well functioning market before George Osborne came along and decided to #### it up.

Also, during the period 2008 -16 (source: ONS) social sector rents rose by an average of 40%. Yes from a lower base - but a far bigger increase than the PRS.

And according to the government's Housing Condition Survey, only about 30% of social renters are in employment compared to 60% in the PRS. The social sector will always be rationed by income and many employed people will not qualify and neither will they be able to wait several years on the waiting list, as by the time a property comes up, they will have moved jobs. A well functioning PRS offers better flexibility for those in work.

And the same Survey says that the proportion of social sector tenants "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with their accommodation is actual higher than the same proportions in the private rented sector. But we don't hear about rogue local council landlords do we??!

The reality is that social homes for rent are no magic bullet and the only way very large numbers can be built, given high land prices, is to build densely i.e. high rise blocks. That is not what people want.... Read More

Simon Williams

3 weeks ago
Council tenants causing uproar in neighbourhood!

I had a bad experience when, some years ago, I leased a flat over to a Housing Association to house people from the council waiting list (as agreed). I was attracted by the 5 year lease, guaranteed rent and promise to return the property in the same condition as found. Everything started well until they let the flat to a very disturbed young man with schizophrenia. Eventually the police came round and kicked the door in. Apparently he'd missed a hospital appointment for vital medication.

At the time I was a lawyer and I wrote to the housing association arguing that, at common law, they owed me a duty of care that they would only place into the property a person who was reasonably suitable to be housed in that property, having regard to its setting and the type of neighbourhood. Alternatively, that there was an implied contractual term between us that persons placed would be reasonably suitable and that they were in breach of contract. I also argued that it is incumbent upon the authority to undertake reasonable checks about people BEFORE they place them in private accommodation rather than just cross fingers and hope for the best.

These pressures finally awoke the housing association from their slumber and they commenced eviction. Fortunately, the tenant abandoned the property rather than staying around for months.

I would therefore keep a log of events and complaints, while writing to the council and demanding that action be taken and also asking what pre-checks they made. Also, if the council represented to you that a family would be moving in but reneged on that, it would be good to statement the evidence on that. Writing (or copying in) your local ward councillors can be helpful too.

Councils and Housing Associations do seem keen on attracting more private landlords to these schemes, but they will face an uphill battle for so long as the various horror stories exist. I think it would be worth highlighting the problem to NLA or RLA if you are a member.

I would never again use one of these leasing schemes. No doubt some people have done well from them. But the risks are high and not within the ability of the property owner to control.

Of course, the council/housing association doesn't have any special powers. If they need to evict, then the process can be as lengthy for them as it is for us.... Read More

Simon Williams

A month ago
Paragon HMO application?

Isn't the first step to get the local council officer round to detail in writing all the things they will deem necessary in order to give it a licence? If the list of changes is not too drastic, you then present that list with your mortgage application and you hopefully get a mortgage offer on condition of compliance with the local authorities' requirements. Paragon will obviously need a survey too, but if the local authority have done a compliance list, that will be definitive and prevent the surveyor talking a lot of rubbish about HMO compliance and get them to concentrate on structural matters instead.

I am sure that Paragon are perfectly used to advancing loans where work is needed on a property.

My final point: If you want to buy an HMO, better to try to get one that is fully up and running already. And if you must buy this property, make sure the changes needed to make it an HMO don't end up devaluing the property e.g. ripping out period features.

Good luck!... Read More