Tag Archives: class action

Legal Advice – West Bromwich Building Society Class Action Advice, Landlord Action, Latest Articles, Legal, Property118 News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

As you will be aware, we are actively looking for a suitable course of action to oppose the planned increase in the interest rate charged on your mortgage by West Bromwich Building Society (WBBS).

I would like to set out our plan below as to how we intend to take this forward:-

  1. We need to establish the exact conditions and legal arguments WBBS is using to justify the increase. The first thing we are doing is writing a letter on behalf of everyone who has contacted us to ask WBBS this question.  In particular, whilst we have seen a sample offer letter which of course makes no reference to the ability to increase the interest rate in the manner they are proposing to do, we have seen their terms and conditions which does include this term (however vague it may be).  We need to understand the basis under which WBBS believes those terms are incorporated into the mortgage contract.
  2. We also need a complete set of documentation which would include any promotional material you may have from WBBS, the completed application form, the key features document, the mortgage offer letter and any other document you have received on the grant of the mortgage.  We would also like to know how many investment properties you owned at the time you took out your mortgage.  This may be helpful in countering any arguments regarding your status as a consumer or professional borrower. If you have not retained copies of all of this documentation please send us copies of everything you have.
  3. Once we have this response from WBBS and a full set of documentation, we will instruct a barrister to provide us with a legal opinion on the merits of pursuing a legal action against WBBS to prevent them from imposing this increase.  There are a number of legal remedies available and we will identify the most suitable ones to pursue.  We are also considering the merits of providing a template claim form and particulars of claim to allow you a cost effective way of bringing a claim against WBBS in the small claims court.
  4. At the same time, we will prepare a template letter for you to send to your solicitor who acted for you on the loan.  At the time you took out your loan, your solicitor would have had a duty to report a term as significant as the one WBBS is relying upon to you and you may have a negligence claim against them.  The letter will ask them to put their insurers on notice with regards to the potential claim.  We will also provide you with  a template complaint form to lodge your complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
  5. Following receipt of the advice from the barrister we will start the appropriate action.

Obviously all of the above costs money.  Our budget for steps 1 – 4 above will be in the region of £15,000.  We will therefore be seeking a payment from you of £240 to cover steps 1 – 4.  Any excess funds received will be used to fund Step 5. If you have more than one loan from WBBS then this sum is payable per loan.

We will have a better idea of the cost of step 5 once we have received the barrister’s advice.  The cost to you will depend on how many people sign up – obviously the more there are, the less it will cost each of you. Legal Advice - West Bromwich Building Society Class Action

In order to move forward, please will you therefore do the following:-

  1. Send your documentation to (outlined in 2 above) to: West Bromwich Action Group, The Law Department, 7a Wellington Road, London NW10 5LJ
  2. Complete and return our instruction form (download here) together with copies of two pieces of identification for you.
  3. Pay the sum of £240 into our client account. Details as follows: Account Name: The Law Department Client Account,  Account Number: 06658997, Sort Code: 12 24 82. Alternatively, you may also send a cheque accompanying the papers referred to above. Cheques should be payable to The Law Department Client Account.

Upon receipt of all of the above, you will receive an acknowledgement from us and the template letters.  We will update the Property118 forum regularly with timelines as to when we expect to receive the advice from the barrister.



Justin Selig

The Law Department

7A Wellington Road London NW10 5LJ

The Law Department is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 441085).  The Principal is Justin Selig who is a solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 


Tracker Mortgages Press Release Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

We are encouraging everybody who has registered for the Tracker Mortgage Class Action campaign to contact their local press with a copy of the Press Release below. Please copy/paste into an email, send it to your local Newspaper and follow up with a call to their financial editor.

Tracker Mortgages Press Release


Local landlords have been shocked by a bombshell letter received from lender West Bromwich Building Society which has doubled their mortgage payments almost overnight.

Buy-to-let borrowers with three properties or more have been targeted by West Brom to bail out their balance sheet by increasing their tracker mortgage rate – in direct contradiction to the terms of the mortgage offer signed by the landlords.

The building society has engaged a team of lawyers to scour the small print of a booklet issued with the original mortgage offer and is using a well-hidden clause to justify the increase, based on a rationale of “prudence and efficiency”.

Borrowers are furious as their tracker mortgages, promised to track at 0.99% above base rate have been increased by 2% with effect from the beginning of December. The rise will add between £200-£400 to the average monthly mortgage payments, inevitably forcing rent rises as leases are renewed.

As anger grows amongst the 6,700 affected borrowers, a legal campaign is already well in hand. Solicitor Justin Selig of The Law Department says, “I have had a look at the paperwork and there doesn’t seem to be any reference to the ability to increase the margin, so I don’t know how they think they can get away with it. This is definitely worth fighting.”

Mark Alexander of the Property118 landlords forum is co-ordinating the campaign and says, “Whether you are a client of West Brom, Bank of Ireland (which has also done the same) or indeed you have a tracker mortgage elsewhere you need to help fight this case. Your tracker mortgages may not be with West Brom or Bank of Ireland, however, that does not mean that you are safe. You may be OK today but what about next week, next month or next year?”

The Property118 forum is raising a fighting fund to take a Class Action Lawsuit to the courts. Currently nearly 700 people have committed. A template complaint letter to the building society and financial ombudsman is also available on the website.


West Bromwich Building Society Tracker Margins Legal Action Advice, Financial Advice, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property News, Property118 News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

West Bromwich Tracker Rate Mortgages Legal Action Group

West Bromwich Building Society Tracker Margins Legal Action

Are you affected by the West Brom Tracker Rate Hike?

If your mortgage account number begins with the number 8 you are highly likely to be one of the unlucky 41% of the mortgage customers of the West Bromwich building Society with a West Bromwich Mortgage Company account affected by the 1.9% increase in your tracker margin rate. However, if you arranged your mortgage directly with West Bromwich Building Society (i.e. not via a broker) or before 2006 the chances are that your account number will begin with the number 9 and you are not affected – YET!!! West Brom will give no assurances that mortgages with account numbers beginning with the number 9 will not be affected at some point in the future.


Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

The reasons we started this campaign are very simple:-

1) We believe the actions of West Brom are immoral

2) We believe the actions of West Brom are unlawful, i.e. they have no legal grounds to increase their tracker rate margins

3) We have no wish to subsidise other areas of the West Bromwich Building Society business model

4) We are fearful of other lenders following suit if West Brom are allowed to get away with this

Mark Smith (Barrister-At-Law) said …

“Representative actions, where one person starts a case representing many others, who all want the answer to a legal question from a court such as ‘is this contract enforceable against me?’ but are not seeking damages. All those who sign up to the action will get the benefit of the win, but they do not have to start their own cases, as they are ‘represented’ by the lead claimant.

The only people who will definitely benefit from success in the case are those who have signed up. There will be no free rides. Any others will have to fight their own corners individually, either alone or with legal help (which will inevitably cost significantly more than the group case).”

We will NOT settle on any basis.

Landlords take legal action against West Brom Mortgage Company

We have a moral duty to do what is right for those who support the values upon which this campaign was started. Our promise to all who support these values is that we will not sell out on you at any price. We will continue to fight this injustice and we will fight any other lender who tries to follow suit.

Are you with us?

This discussion thread is now closed – we’re off to Court!

To link to the new discussion please CLICK HERE

West Bromwich Mortgage Company Tracker Margins Legal Action

Tracker Mortgage Class Action Update Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Tracker Mortgage Class Action Update

630 people have completed our Tracker Rate Class Action Registration Form as I type this update. 

Of those, 300 had signed up to the Bank of Ireland Class Action campaign which we started in early March 2013. The remaining 330 have signed up in the last week since the announcement from the West Bromwich Building Society that 6,700 landlords will have their tracker margins increased by 2% on 1st December 2013.

Our campaigns were referenced in The Telegraph on Saturday and The Sunday Times yesterday. We have also been referenced in several blogs and Facebook groups.

I came in this morning to a very full inbox and whilst I have endeavoured to reply to everybody, please excuse the brevity of my responses if you are one of the people who contacted me, I’m sure you will understand.

The complaint letter template has been well received and I’m hoping that West Brom will have a very heavy mailbag this morning and for the foreseeable future.

On Twitter, a hashtag is being used to drive interest, it is #MortgageMugging – I didn’t create the hashtag but it does explain how we many of us feel to let’s all use it. We are asking Twitter users to visit the hashtag regularly and to re-tweet all relevant tweets posted by others.

I had a long telephone conversation with Justin Selig this morning in which I explained that we have gained some momentum but my fear is that we could lose that if people don’t have clear direction and a very good reason to sign up and pay up now.

My biggest question at the moment is this;

What is the “early bird” incentive for people to commit to fund raising?

If all affected borrowers benefit equally, whether they have contributed or not, then human nature will more often than not be to do nothing. I suspect this is what the lenders are relying upon and it is my biggest fear.

Litigation isn’t going to be cheap and it appears I may well have significantly under-estimated costs when I predicted that we will need to raise around £100,000. The cases have similarities but they are not the same, therefore we could be fighting two separate Class Action cases. It is still unclear whether one test case case against each lender is the way to go or whether we should bring one case against each bank to represent all affected members of each Class Action.

The reality is, we need further advice from Counsel, however, bearing in mind that only £10,000 was raised to fund the initial campaign we have made very good progress so far.

We have a barristers opinion on the BoI case and we also know where we stand with the FCA having placed Counsels 32 page report in front of them outlining the legal bases of our grievances. We have not yet had a response from the FOS but I don’t think we should be holding our breath on that one.

During our conversation Justin and I agreed that we should seek further advice from Counsel on what we should do next. As I expected, Justin was a step ahead of me and reported that a QC in the same chambers as our barrister has agreed to provide further opinion free of charge! I have no idea how Justin pulled that one off but we all owe them both a debt of gratitude for that.

Once we have the responses from Counsel Justin will be in a position to seek quotes for legal fees insurance. That will give us a much clearer indication as to how much money we will need to raise.

I have also asked Justin;

Is there a way to ensure that only those who contribute to the fundraising will benefit? If so, could the fund raising be phased to give ‘early birds’ an incentive, e.g. first 300 in pay X, next 300 in pay Y, everybody after that pays Z?

We don’t know how much we need to raise because we don’t yet know what we are going to do next. We need to be clear about this before we recommence fund raising. What we do know is that we need to obtain Counsels opinion on the West Bromwich Building Society case and advice from the barrister on how to proceed, this will cost around £4,000.

Specifically in relation to the West Bromwich case we need to know,

  • What is counsels opinion of the legality of the proposed actions by West Bromwich BS?
  • What constitutes a professional investor? The case of the OFT vs Foxtons was unclear but West Bromwich have decided that it is anybody with three or more mortgages. What is the legal relevance of this?
  • Can we get an injunction to delay the increase pending a Court Case? If so what’s the cost?
  • Can/should affected borrowers use the Small Claims Court to make claims for breach of contract? If so, what do they need to do? Could an advice pack be created and sold to raise funds?
  • Should affected borrowers write to their solicitors asking them to comment on the advice (or lack of it) they provided at the time at the time of arranging the mortgage(s). Should these solicitors be advised to put their PI insurers on notice? If so we need letter templates. Could these be included in the same advice pack?

I am also concerned about what happens if we have a further round of fund raising for either case and we don’t raise enough money to take the case through to its final conclusion. What should we do about getting started and/or refunding money paid? It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario because logic suggests that more people will join the fight once it gets started properly and media coverage increases, but to what extent? Do we commence proceedings against Bank of Ireland and/or west Bromwich BS and effectively gamble on more people signing up? If they don’t, and we exhaust all of the funds raised, what then?

Do we use new money raised to put more pressure on the FCA? For example, we could instruct Justin to engage Counsel with a view to writing a response to the FCA expressing our concerns that firstly they are not taking an impartial view of this and secondly, contrary to what they reported earlier in the year to Andrew Tyrie MP, this is not an isolated incident and could potentially cause carnage if other larger lenders follow suit. My opinion is that the FCA’s response is a whitewash.  They have simply used the BoI response to our case as a reason not to pursue it.  They have not obtained their own independent advice so the FCA is not acting as an independent arbitrator.  The BoI response is a note from their barrister who they asked to find ways round our argument.  It is not an independent review of the actions of BoI. The FCA has not given us a chance to respond to the BOI arguments. They have simply taken the BoI version and gone with it.  My own gut feeling is that we should press this issue and seek support from Andrew Tyrie MP because he clearly thinks the actions of BoI were unfair and is therefore likely to feel the same way about the actions of West Bromwich BS.

The above really is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the many questions and concerns I have at this stage. However, it is important for everybody to know what we are up to behind the scenes.

The bottom line is that we are going to need a lot more support whatever happens. Therefore, I am asking everybody who has registered to date to persuade at least two more people to register for the Class Action in the next week and then get them to do the same. By the time that’s done, Justin should have more answers for us from Counsel and the direction we need to head in should be far more clear to us all.

Will Mortgage Express copy BoI and West Brom and raise their rates? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Is there a trend? First the Bank of Ireland raised their Tracker rates and now West Bromwich Building Society have followed suit, will Mortgage Express copy and raise their rates?

We borrowed a tidy sum from Mortgage Express and have been enjoying the “Product Variable Rate” of 1.75% above the Bank of England Base Rate. The rate seemed secure but West Bromwich Building Society’s recent move to increase their tracker rates worries me.

If West Bromwich BS get away with this, then will Mortgage Express have a punt as well? Their reputation these days is of doing all they possibly can, fair or foul, to get borrowers to re-mortgage to other banks.

I’ve looked back at my mortgage offers from Mortgage Express and it looks hopeful for us. The mortgages started as either discount or fixed rates and then reverted to the “Product Variable Rate”. The first one we took out in 2001 and then we renewed the deal with various extra drawdown loans and new discount rates etc. On first impression, the renewals all seem to refer back the original contract rather than start new ones. The key phrase in the original 2001 agreement was straight: “the interest rate will be 1.75% above base rate”. I trust it still stands.

Another Mortgage Express mortgage offer (2004) states “a variable rate of 6.5% (which is 1.75% above the Bank of England Base rate – currently 4.75%)” and later it states that the rate “will revert to the variable rate …. for the remainder of the term”. The separate “Conditions 2004” booklet did contain a section on Mortgage Express’s rights to change the interest rate but it started “If the interest rate is one which we can vary at our discretion …”. So again this looks good.

However, I hear from Property118 that West Bromwich have no clauses in their offer letters referring to their rights to increase their tracker margin. Also they didn’t refer to their special conditions booklet (which presumably did have some text providing for when and how the tracker margin might be changed). Finally, they ignored the October 2004 mortgage regulations cut off date.

Property118 also reports that Bank of Ireland did keep to those 3 rules and they seem to be getting away with it. So, now West Bromwich have gone further than Bank of Ireland and we all wait to see if they’ll get away with it.

Mortgage Express would need to push the boundaries further still, I guess. I suppose they are first waiting on the outcome of the West Bromwich’s move. Will Mortgage Express copy BoI and West Brom and raise their rates

Are you worried as well?


Property118 is leading a Class Action group to fight back by taking a test case to Court if necessary to prove once and for all that amending the margin on a tracker rate mortgage is breach of contract. If you are worrying whether your mortgage lender will follow the lead of Bank of Ireland or West Brom please READ THIS and complete the form below to support this campaign.

ACT NOW to protect the margin on your YOUR tracker mortgage Advice, Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Financial Advice, GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Press, Property Market News, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Help us to protect YOUR tracker marginsIf you have a tracker mortgage you may be forgiven for thinking that your mortgage payments will only change when the base rate changes. 

Just suppose you open your post one day to find that your mortgage lender has decided to increase the tracker margin by a couple of percent!

Sounds unimaginable doesn’t it?

Well it isn’t, and you could be next!

This shocking news was recently delivered to 6,700 customers of the West Bromwich Building Society. What’s more, this is not something new, 13,500 Bristol & West and Bank of Ireland Mortgages customers received exactly the same treatment in February 2013.

Outraged? Their customers certainly were!

Could you be next???

West Brom stand to make an extra 19 million pounds a year if they get away with this. How much will your mortgage lender stand to make when they decide to do the same thing? It’s a big incentive for them isn’t it, especially if they think they are unlikely to be challenged due to the inability of landlords to raise the required funds to put up a fight.

If a group of named landlords decides to fight this in Court the claims will typically be for the value of the increase over the remaining term of the mortgage. By way of example, if your mortgage increases by £150 a month and you have 18 years to run on your mortgage your claim for damages would be £32,400.

We need to raise awareness if we are to raise the money to fight the test case

There are 6,700 affected borrowers with West Bromwich Building Society and a further 13,300 affected by bank of Ireland already. However, that doesn’t mean raising the required level of funding will be an easy task to achieve. Many of these people will never get to hear about this campaign and that’s where you come in. You may or may not be affected today but what about next week, next month or next year? To discourage your lender to follow the lead of WBBS and BoI and increasing your tracker margins we need to convince them they will have a fight on their hands if they do! Knowledge of our intentions will also act as a deterrent to other mortgage lenders due to the huge commercial risks associated with the potential for thousands of compensation claims running into hundreds of millions.

YOU can make a difference

Whether you are directly affected now or not, we urge you to help promote this campaign. The sooner we can raise enough interest, the sooner we can raise the money to commence litigation and stop this profiteering in its tracks. Please talk to your friends about this campaign and ask them to sign up. Please email a link to this discussion, share it on your Facebook, Tweet it, blog about it, post links on forums – SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

Your wealth is at risk if you choose to ignore this message!

Please get involved and support this campaign by completing the form below.

Bank of Ireland Tracker Mortgage Class Action Update Buy to Let News, Guest Articles, Guest Columns, Landlord Action, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property News

Yesterday the Treasury Committee published a letter sent to Andrew Tyrie MP from Martin Wheatley, Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority dated 20 May 2013 regarding the Bank of Ireland’s recent move to increase the margin differential on its lifetime tracker mortgages.

The letter looks at various aspects of the banks conduct and the FCA broadly came to the conclusion that in some instances, the bank was legally entitled to increase the differential. Continue reading Bank of Ireland Tracker Mortgage Class Action Update

The latest on the BOI Tracker rate scandal Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The latest on the BOI Tracker rate scandalBank of Ireland issued the following press release and wrote to 1,200 borrowers today:-

“In February this year Bank of Ireland UK wrote to 13,500 mortgage customers to advise that their base rate tracking differential would increase on 1st May.  This increase is permitted by a specific clause in these mortgage contracts, which allows an increase in the interest rate differential after the guarantee period (after 31 December 2006).  This change reflects the significant increase in the cost of funding these mortgages since 2008 and the need for banks to maintain greater levels of capital.

In line with the Bank’s commitment to treat all customers fairly and as part of our ongoing management of customer complaints we have identified two groups of customers where we will not be applying the increase to their base rate tracker mortgage.  We have written to these customers and the Financial Conduct Authority has been informed of our decision and is supportive of our approach in excluding these customers.

The first group specifically relates to 1,000 Flexible mortgage customers who were actively using the flexible facilities on their mortgage account.  These customers received a specific administrative letter linked to their transactions that might have caused some customers to believe the differential was for the term of their mortgage.  The Bank has decided that anyone who has received this administrative letter will not have the increase in differential applied.

The second group of c. 200 customers are those that switched their mortgage product to a base rate tracker mortgage.  These customers received documentation detailing that the differential on their mortgage was variable, but the mortgage conditions they received did not detail the circumstances under which the differential could be changed.  As a result we are also removing these customers from the pool.

Des Crowley, Chief Executive, Bank of Ireland UK, commented: “We have said from the outset that we will review all customer complaints individually and that we are committed to treating customers fairly throughout the process, it is on this basis that we have removed these customers.”

Bank of Ireland UK will waive all early repayment charges for those customers to whom the differential increase applies and who wish to refinance their mortgage elsewhere.”

What are your thoughts?

Please comment on our main thread – see THIS LINK

At the time of writing this post over 20,000 people have read our original forum thread over on Property118 and nearly 700 comments have been left.

Affected borrowers were outraged when we first released the news of the Bank of Irelands intentions and many others with tracker rate mortgages became fearful that if Bank of Ireland get away with this other mortgage lenders will follow suit.

Our article was picked by Google News very quickly and this sparked massive media interest. We are very grateful for the Press coverage, especially the BBC, The Times and several mortgage magazines who have worked very closely with us and used the Property118 forum to engage with affected borrowers to add a human element to their reports.

As the thread progressed Property118 contacted Landlord Action and Paul Shamplina put us in touch with his new business partner, Julstin Selig at The Law Department for advice advice on starting a Class Action.

Funds from The GOOD Landlords Campaign (administered by Property118) were used to underwrite Counsels opinion which amounted to over 40 pages of legal advice from one of London’s leading banking barristers at 11 Stone Buildings.

Contributions to the Class Action fighting fund of £100 + VAT per affected borrower now amount to nearly £10,000. This money has paid for legal advice to both residential and BTL borrowers who have signed up and a case has also been prepared by barristers for submission to the OFT, FOS and the FCA to demonstrate why the BOI’s actions are illegal and should be challenged in Court by regulators in the public interest. If the OFT can be persuaded to fund the case at litigation this will avoid the need to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund costs and will also negate the risks of the Class Action being ordered to pay the BOI’s legal costs in the event of losing the case.

I issued the following statement to the Press yesterday “Clearly there is only so much legal advice that the funds raised to date can purchase so it is imperative for more affected borrowers to join the Class Action. The legal steps to date could be described as “Gorilla Warfare” against the Bank of Ireland and the submission to the OFT is effectively a call to bring in the Cavalry. Some affected borrowers have questioned why a Court Injunction has not been applied for to defer any rate rise until a legal case has been heard by the Courts. The reality of the situation is that a lot more funding would be necessary for such action. Hopefully this is the action the OFT will take but in the meantime it is vitally important that thousands more affected borrowers join in. Far too many affected borrowers seem to be hoping to take a free ride on the back of others’ commitment and I would urge those people to reconsider their position in order to accelerate progress.

If you are affected by the BOI Tracker Rate Differential change please sign up to the Class Action (see the link below).


DO NOT allow Bank of Ireland to get away with this.

If you are not directly affected, but you are concerned about the potential ramifications and the possibility of other lenders following the lead of the Bank of Ireland please show your support by recommending and becoming a member of The GOOD Landlords Campaign

Justin Selig – Legal advice to affected BOI tracker borrowers Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Justin Selig - Legal advice to affected BOI tracker borrowersWe appointed Justin Selig to advise thousands of landlords and residential mortgage borrowers across the UK on the day that news broke of the Bank of Ireland intentions to increase the differential on tracker rate mortgages to 4.49%. For some borrowers this means an increase in monthly payments of over 200% starting from today.

Over 16,000 people have read our forum page at the time of writing this article and press including the BBC have used the forum to make contact with affected borrowers.

Property118 used funds raised through The GOOD Landlords Campaign to underwrite the costs associated with Justin Selig obtaining legal opinion on the Bank of Ireland plans from a high profile banking barrister. Thanks to the number of borrowers who have signed up to obtain professional advice as a group from Justin Selig, our commitment to underwrite the costs of the legal advice has now been released. The GOOD Landlords Campaign funds can now be deployed elsewhere for the purpose of sharing best practice amongst landlords and letting agents. Continue reading Justin Selig – Legal advice to affected BOI tracker borrowers

Property Forum and News website where UK landlords and letting agents share best practice