Tag Archives: Landlords

Bank of Ireland Tracker Rate Legal Campaign Fundraising re-launched Latest Articles

The Bank of Ireland Tracker Rate Legal Campaign began in March 2013.

History to date

100 affected BoI borrowers each paid £150 plus VAT into an initial legal fees fighting fund and instructed Justin Selig of The Law Department to obtain Counsels opinion on the merits of our case.

Consensus of legal opinions was that regulators should fight the case on several bases including Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations.

Detailed complaint letters were prepared by The Law Department with assistance of Counsel and submitted to the OFT, FOS and the FCA.

The OFT immediately passed their case over to the FCA.

The FCA sought our permission to send our complaint to the Bank of Ireland on the understanding that we would be copied into their response. BoI employed a QC to respond to the FCA and our legal team duly received a copy which was “wishy washy” to say the least. Nevertheless, the FCA felt they had concluded their duties and didn’t consider our case any further.

The FOS are still prevaricating after 10 months!

The complexities of the case lead us to believe, at the time, that it was unlikely that we would be able to raise sufficient funds to progress to Court. Therefore, fundraising was suspended whilst we re-grouped to consider our options. Nevertheless, the PR battle has progressed well on the back of a very similar case affecting borrowers of the West Brom Mortgage Company. A few hundred additional borrowers have completed an “Expression of Interest” form in respect of taking legal action against the Bank of Ireland since the fundraising was suspended. These people have paid nothing.

Moving forward

Those members who paid fees into the legal action fund have been briefed on considerable work undertaken by The Law Department, Counsel and even a QC, all of which have been working without payment since fundraising was suspended. Given the success of the fundraising for legal action against the West Brom Mortgage Company and the advice and strategies agreed between the enhanced legal team we are now far more confident that funds will be raised and that privately funded litigation will be successful.

To obtain a copy of the briefing which was sent to clients who instructed The Law Department, so that you can make a decision of whether to be a party to ongoing legal action, will require you to instruct The Law Department and make an initial payment of £150 plus VAT (i.e. £180 in total).

Payment can be made my cheque payable to “The Law Department Client Account” or by electronic transfer to:

Account Name: The Law Department Client Account

Account Number: 06658997

Sort Code: 12 24 82.

Reference: your full name

To instruct The Law Department you will also need to complete and return a letter of instruction and return it with the following documentation:-

  1. Proof of identity – copy passport of driving licence
  2. Proof of residence – a utility bill for your home address within the last three months
  3. A copy of your mortgage offer letter
  4. If available, a copy of any terms and conditions and other literature you have obtained in connection with your mortgage. This includes and marketing literature.
  5. Link to Letter of Instruction Template HERE

On receipt of the above you will receive further details of advice and strategies. You will then be given the option of whether to commit to litigation or not.

Proceeding to litigation

This will require 150 people to each pay an additional £500 into The Law Department client account as a gesture of commitment and for each affected borrower to agree to a further potential liability of £1,000 if/when litigation commences. If the number of instructions is greater than 150 then the liability will fall pro-rata, for example, if there are 300 instructions the additional potential liability will halve.

If legal action is aborted funds paid will be refunded less costs shared pro-rata.

Our legal team are confident of a positive outcome if sufficient funds can be raised/pledged to commit to further legal action. Bank of Ireland Tracker Rate Legal Campaign Fundraising re-launched

Secure Forum

Members who agree to proceed to litigation on the above terms will be granted access to a highly secure internet forum. The forum operates on the same technology as electronic banking, is hidden from search engines and has several additional layers of security. The purpose of this forum will be to share confidential, commercially sensitive and legally privileged strategies and for members to ask questions, either via private messages or via the secure forum where Q&A’s are likely to be of interest to all members. The private messaging service will also enable members to communicate in confidence, and securely, between themselves, e.g. to swap telephone numbers.

To-Do List – 4 simple steps

1) Tell everybody you know to support the marketing campaign (details below)

2) Share this post via your social networks (see icons at the bottom of this page)

3) If you use Twitter please re-tweet these Tweets…


4) Marketing

The success of our campaigns are highly dependent upon quality marketing including PR and meeting with centres of influence. Property118 operates a “not for profit” business model and is, therefore, totally reliant of donations to fund marketing and other activities such as the creation and ongoing hosting our the above mentioned secure forum. Whether you are immediately affected by a tracker rate hike or not, it is in your interests to support the Property118 marketing fund to raise awareness of important issues which could affect all landlords and to discourage lenders which YOU have tracker rate mortgages with from hiking your tracker rate margins. For further details please CLICK HERE.

All comments via the existing Bank of Ireland discussion thread please CLICK HERE


Campaigns Against Tracker Mortgage Rate Hikes Reach Parliament Latest Articles

David Morris MP and Mark Alexander considering an Early Day Motion at the Houses of Parliament 21-01-2014

David Morris MP and Mark Alexander considering an Early Day Motion at the Houses of Parliament 21-01-2014

The campaigns organised by members of Property118 against hikes to tracker rate mortgage margins moved up a gear yesterday when I was invited to meet with David Morris MP and his aide Andre Walker at The Houses of Parliament. I spent 90 minutes with them in total. I also managed to get a very quick 5 minute meeting in between parliamentary debates with Jason McCartney MP (Colne Valley) who has been very supportive of our campaign in terms of meeting his locally affected constituents and lobbying fellow MPs.

Over 20 MPs have expressed concerns and support for their  constituents affected by the actions of West Brom Building Society and Bank of Ireland. A debate in the House of Commons has already been applied for by two MPs.

Campaigners have been lobbying their MPs over the last few months and much support has been pledged. Many of the MPs wrote to John Westhoff, CEO of the West Brom, but all were fobbed off by similar letters claiming that their rate hikes were legal and necessary to subsidise other areas of there business which have performed badly in recent years. Senior banking barristers and an eminent banking QC have poured over the Terms and Conditions and believe what these lenders are doing to increase their profits is an illegal breach of contracts. In both cases the terms of the mortgage offer letters contractually and legally take precedent over conditions specified in the lenders mortgage conditions booklets which are generic to fixed, standard variable and tracker rate mortgages. It is terms in the more generic booklet that West Brom and Bank of Ireland are ‘hanging their hat on’ in respect of their hikes to the margins being charged to their borrowers over the Bank of England base rate.

Campaigners feel that the mortgage lenders are attempting to use their financial muscle and the disincentive in respect of huge costs to litigate to evade justice but the strategy of these lenders does not appear to be working.

To date, over £100,000 has been raised and lodged with Solicitor Justin Selig which is enough to commence legal action. More will be required to fight a case at appeal which is highly likely as a strategy from the lenders if/when the campaigners win the first round of litigation in the lower Courts. With this in mind, alternative strategies to litigation are being considered to settle the argument out of court in the short term because the MPs cannot progress matters once the judiciary are involved.

As fortune would have it, whilst I was at the meeting David Morris MP was invited to submit a question to Chancellor George Osbourne on Tuesday 28th. Mr Morris seized the opportunity and immediately submitted a question relating to the conduct of mortgage lenders. We should find out later this week whether it is approved.

As if that wasn’t enough from my first visit, I was also introduced to several other MPs between debates. These were only quick introductions but many of them are aware of the campaign due to the excellent lobbying of Property118 members.

The icing on the cake was helping to draft an EDM “Early Day Motion”, which has now been submitted by David Morris MP, which will be publicly available and no doubt of much interest to the press. The more MPs that sign up to support this EDM the more likely it is for the debate to take place and for the motion to be passed. We also prepared a very short briefing note to be distributed to other MPs showing an interest. There is a LOT more to be done on our side too. I need all campaign members, whether directly affected or not, to contact your MP again and to ask them to add their support to Early Day Motion number 976.

I strongly recommend following up any electronic correspondence with a telephone call because MPs are bombarded with thousands of emails every day and they can very easily be overlooked.

To contact your MP please click here, then copy and paste the text below:-

Dear ……

As one of your constituents I am asking you please to add your support to Early Day Motion number 976 as submitted by David Morris MP. Below is the content of the EDM and some background notes for you to consider. Given the importance of this matter I would also request you to apply for a debate. If a telephone call or meeting would help, either with me or the campaign organiser please let me know.

SUBJECT – Conduct of Mortgage Lenders – EDM number 976 

That this house condemns mortgage lenders breaching tracker rate mortgage contracts by unilaterally increasing the margin they charge over the Bank of England base rate in order to increase their profit margins and deliberately targeting borrowers where consumer protection law is ambiguous; and calls on the Government to investigate alleged associated recent activities of the Bank of Ireland and West Bromwich Building Society.

Additional Notes

There are believed to be 2.5 million tracker rate mortgages, i.e. mortgages which track the Bank of England base rate at a fixed margin for a defined period

137,000 readers are following a campaign to expose this scam via the Property118 internet forum as concern that other mortgage lenders will follow suit is increasing

Alleged examples of deliberate misuse of ambiguous consumer protection laws include ….

  • 12,200 Bank of Ireland mortgage accounts whereby a mixture of homeowner mortgages and buy to let mortgage borrowers were targeted – all of which pre-dated the Oct 2008 mortgage regulations
  • 6,700 West Brom Building Society mortgage accounts whereby landlords with 3 or more properties have been targeted – there is no case law to define what would constitute a consumer landlord although there is case law to acknowledge that landlords can be consumers. Therefore, Unfair Consumer Contract Terms legislation may or may not apply and it would appear that the WBBS are relying on affected borrowers not being able to raise sufficient funds to challenge this or litigate other points of contract law.

All comments via the main forums please.

Link to Bank of Ireland forum

Link to West Brom forum

David Morris MP commented “I’m extremely concerned about the fact that mortgage lenders are increasing the margin they make on tracker mortgages. This practise is damaging to the economy, immoral and may even be illegal. The Financial Conduct Authority must investigate this urgently.”

REQUEST FOR HELP!

I expect to be called to London to provide further briefings to both MPs and and the media and intend to use the campaign marketing fund to pay for my travel expenses, wining and dining key contacts and loss of *fee-earning time from other consultancy work, (*capped at a maximum of £500 per day). We need to top this fund up and I am highly reliant on your generosity for this as the people I will be meeting will not be too impressed if the lunch budget only extends to a McDonalds or a Subway! Please donate HERE.

If you haven’t already signed up please complete the form below.

The deadline for submission of instructions has now expired. However, it may still be possible to join the representative action subject to paying Court fees and an additional cost to cover associated administration. For details please email : carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk


Good feedback for Landlords from Tenants reported by NLA Landlord News, Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

The majority of tenants say their rent provides good value for money, according to the National Landlords Association’s NLA latest research findings*.

More than seven in 10 tenants (73 per cent) rated their rent as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ when asked their opinion on whether it represented value for money. One in five (20 per cent) perceived their rent as ‘poor’ value, while just three per cent rated it as ‘very poor’.

The findings also show that the majority of landlords haven’t increased rents in the last 12 months, with three quarters of tenants reporting they’re paying the same rent (72 per cent) or a lesser amount (3 per cent) compared with a year ago.

In total, 85 per cent of tenants said they were happy with the length of their most recent tenancy agreement and four in five (79 per cent) said that their tenancy was either renewed or continued on to a rolling Statutory Periodic Tenancy (SPT) at the end of the previous fixed term period.

When it comes to the end of the tenancy, fewer than two per cent of tenants said their landlord ended their last tenancy (1 per cent) or felt they were forced to move out because of increases to their rent (0.6 per cent). Three per cent of tenants said they decided to move on or end their last tenancy of their own accord.

Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the NLA, said: “It’s pleasing to see that so many tenants perceive their rent as good value because landlords face a lot of unjustified criticism for the rising costs of living.

“The NLA has long argued that rent levels in the UK are a consequence of a market economy, with the determining factor at present being a chronic undersupply of affordable housing, compounded by lethargic efforts on the part of Government to foster more construction.

“On the whole the findings are encouraging for tenants: they demonstrate that rents on private lets over the past year have remained fairly stable and show that, in reality, very few feel pressured to move out or actually have their tenancy terminated by their landlord – a common misconception.

“However, most important of all the findings suggest that the majority of landlords are in the business of providing good quality, affordable homes and are making sustainable tenancies a mainstay of most tenants’ rental experience”.

*NLA Tenant Panel research, October 2013 – 550 online respondents.feedback


You may have more funding choices than you think! Advice, Financial Advice, Guest Articles, Guest Columns, Latest Articles

Banks aren’t always the friendliest of places when it comes to borrowing money. All the “hoops” they expect you jump through, and even then you’ll be told what you can or cannot use the cash for! So it’s good know that you may have more options than you think. Let’s give you a working example: Simone Gilks

John, age 63, has his main residence with an outstanding interest only mortgage of £40,000 which is due for repayment later this year. He has a holiday home (mortgage free) in Cumbria that is used exclusively by him and his family, and he also has four “buy-to-let” properties (mortgage free) dotted throughout the town, and all producing good rents.

John wants to raise cash for various purposes including clearing his mortgage , plus money to help buy another new buy-to-let property, as well as paying for the world cruise he promised his wife 10 years ago! His bank is not being very helpful, so he has an interesting chat with one of our equity release experts.

It transpires that John could in fact use equity release to get cash from his main property and/or his holiday home, and/or his buy-to-lets, or any combination of the three. The cash released can be used for whatever purpose he likes, although the existing mortgage would have to be cleared, but that was part of his plans anyway.

Knowing his debt will increase was at first a concern, but John sees this as a reasonable compromise because equity release means no monthly repayments and so no impact on his income situation. In fact his disposable income will increase as his existing mortgage will be gone.

John is pleased to learn that the interest rate on the equity release loans would be fixed and guaranteed for life. He is told that these type of loans are also portable. This gives him the possibility to be able to move a loan to another property should he need to sell at any time without having to pay off the mortgage if he chooses not to.

Another benefit is the possibility of setting the interest against rental payments for tax purposes, although he knows this will depend on how the cash is used. So tax relief on the cruise is out of the question! Or is it? See this page about Landlord Tax.

John is now arranging a sit-down meeting at home with one of our fully qualified Beauwater financial advisers. John will be presented with written facts, figures and all the pros as well as the cons. John thinks: “That’s something else I never got from the bank … a home visit!”

Initial consultations are free so please feel free to get in touch and I will happily refer you to the most appropriate member of our team. We operate Nationally.

Contact Simone

Mortgages and Life Insurance

Property Research Tool Latest Articles

UK Property Research Tool
What you need to know and where to find the information

This Property Research Tool is for the benefit of all property buyers, landlords, tenants, owner occupiers and professional advisers associated with property.

Thanks to business sponsors and Property118 Members for their incredibly generous donations making the development of this Property Research Tool.

Property Research generally begins online

Far too many people fall into the trap of not doing proper online research, they see a property they fall in love with or meet a sales person they trust and the deal is done. For those of us who have learned our lessons the hard way, it still takes a long time to wade though websites to complete thourogh due diligence. The really annoying part for me was finding each website individually and then having to enter the same postcode into each one over and over again to find the right pages. For these reasons I wanted to have a system built as a convenient Aide-mémoire (check-list) for every internet user to be able to use and to provide access to to the websites containing vital information with the minimum number of clicks. Property Research Tool

Essentially the Property Research to is a pop up page, called a modal, which consolidates key information used by landlords and other property purchasers to assess properties. Any website can incorporate this technology free of charge. The functionality works best with Google Chrome and Safari internet browsers.

The only data input for users is the Post Code of the area. The key benefit is the ability to access all information required to complete desktop due diligence without having to remember visit multiple websites, thus saving considerable time and effort. The information is called from several websites which provide insight into the location being searched.

Enough of me trying to explain what it is, why not see for yourself?

If you run a website yourself why not write a review and grab the embed code to install the Property Research Tool functionality on your own website? We even have a widget which creates a “call to action” button (like the one below) which you can size to your requirements.

Want to learn even more?

My buy to let property investment strategy is documented and constantly updated in the Advice section of this website. To get back to the main menu >>>

 

Landlords Buy to Let Property Investment Strategy


Complaint to ASA re West Brom Tracker Mortgages Website Advertising Latest Articles

COMPLAINT TO ADVERTISING STANDARDS AGENCY

I have just completed my online complaint to the ASA. It is a five step process. The basis of my complaint was targeted only at the statement of the West Brom website. My thinking is that if we over-complicate matters for the ASA they might decide to refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman or the FCA and we know know what a black hole those organisations can be. Therefore, focussing purely of the website advertising, and what I beleive to be a smoking gun case, will hopefully be useful for us to use as evidence in our main legal battle. Needless to say, it will also be a great annoyance to West Brom and very embarrassing for them if/when complaints are upheld.

If you want to do something similar and make a complaint of your own this is the link you will need to get you started >>> http://www.asa.org.uk/Consumers/How-to-complain.aspx

The first 4 steps of the complaint process are very simple to complete, it’s just your details and a few questions to answer regarding the basis of your complaint.

Step 5 of the complaint process is the meaty bit, i.e. the basis of complaint. Below (in this dark blue colour) is what I wrote …..

The West Bromwich Building Society website said

“Tracker mortgages give you the certainly of knowing that the rate you pay will move in line with Bank Base Rates”

I took this at face value, as it would appear 6,700 people who purchased this product did.

Bank Base Rates have not moved for nearly 5 years but West Bromwich Building Society have decided to increase the interest rate on my buy to let tracker mortgage by 1.9% as of 1st December 2013. Therefore, my complaint is the statement on the West Bromwich Building Society website was misleading. This is the sole purpose of my complaint to ASA at this stage.

For further information …..

West Bromwich Building Society are pointing to small print in their Mortgage Conditions to justify this increase and I am taking legal advice together with a large group of other affected borrowers about this. I also believe their mortgage documentation was misleading and that their hike in interest rates is not legal but that’s another story.

You may also wish to note that West Bromwich Building Society also believe they have the right to call in these mortgages within 28 days, even if their customer isn’t in default. They are actually using this as a veiled threat in response to complaints from their customers about the interest rate hike. The legal action group I am part of are also taking Counsels advice on this point as this appears to be out of sync with the rest of the mortgage market. Again there was not mention of this on their website or on their offer documentation. It was another clause buried into their mortgage conditions brochure.

I backed this up with the following link with an explanation that I took this screen shot from the West Brom website and now host the screen shot on my website as evidence for all to see. Link here >>> http://www.property118.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/West-Brom-Screen-Shot-21.png Complaint to ASA re West Brom Tracker Mortgages Website Advertising

Since making my complaint to the ASA I have gathered further evidence of the West Brom’s misleading financial promotions for their tracker rate mortgages which appeared on their website back in January 2008. This evidence was obtained via the “Wayback Machine” – see >>> http://web.archive.org/web/20070701010120/http://www.westbrom.co.uk/westbrom/mortgages.category?id=26

All comments via THE MAIN DISCUSSION THREAD PLEASE


Castle Trust Equity Loan Finance Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Mortgage News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Castle Trust Equity Loan Finance has the potential to be the biggest game changer in the UK mortgage market since Buy to Let came about in 1996.

Not only does the Castle Trust equity loan finance product allow you to borrow more without having to refinance, there are also no monthly payments, EVER!

Instead of paying interest and capital repayments as you would on a normal mortgage or second mortgage, Castle Trust take a share in the capital appreciation of your property when it is sold. If your property doesn’t go up in value by the time you sell it then all you owe Castle Trust is what you borrowed, they make no return. If your property does go up in value when you sell it then Castle Trust take a share in the profits. Castle Trust

As you might imagine, the Castle Trust Equity Loan Finance offer has captured the imagination and creativity of landlords because this mortgage product can enable them to raise money to buy more properties without affecting their cashflow. The art of borrowing is to make your borrowed money work harder than it costs – this mortgage product certainly has potential for landlords to use it that way.

Industry reaction to the Castle trust products

I have already spoken to a few buy to let mortgage lenders about the Castle Trust offer and feelings are mixed. Some don’t like it because they feel it could affect their risk profiles, however, so far these lenders haven’t been able to give me a logical reason as to why they feel this way. On the other hand we have lenders which are considering designing new BTL products at 65% LTV with a view to dovetailing them into the Castle Trust product. They are considering this on the basis of there risk being lower than normal at 65% LTV and overall serviceability of debt also being better due to there being  no monthly interest payable on the top-up 20% of a loan provided by Castle Trust which takes overall gearing up to 85%.

Castle Trust have certainly got people talking and thinking!

Landlords are acting on this too – who knows how long it will be available for? I first wrote about the Castle Trust deal for landlords and our hand picked panel of advisers just a couple of weeks ago. Since then we’ve have an incredible response and referrals to our recommended advisers have already been converted at an incredible 90% plus conversion rate into decisions in principle from Castle Trust. Yes, they are a slick operation to deal with too, it’s possible to get a Decision in Principle within 24 hours of contacting one or our recommended broker panel members.

We have quite a debate going on amongst landlords and professional advisers about the pro’s and cons of the Castle Trust equity loan finance products elsewhere on this website. Therefore, I will not be adding a comments section to this particular post. However, do pop over to the thriving discussion over on this thread and  read what your peers have to say about the product. Feel free to ask questions yourself too 🙂


Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Three cases have recently been tested in the Courts whereby Councils have charged more for HMO licensing then was reasonable.

There are rules to prevent Councils using HMO licensing to raise funds for other activities.

Hemming v Westminster City Council: The case outlines the type of costs that councils can recover through locally set licence fees and the processes councils have in place to ensure fee setting is transparent and open to scrutiny. The key issue addressed was whether the fees set by Westminster City Council complied with the requirements of the European Services Directive 2009 and the interpretation of Article 13(2) of the Directive. The Services Directive also makes it clear that licence fees covered by the Directive can only be used to recover costs and should not be used to make a profit or deter service providers from entering a market. Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees

Crompton v Oxford City Council: The power to charge fees in respect of HMO licensing is found in s63 of the Housing Act 2004. Importantly, this power is granted in respect of licence applications only. Oxford City Council has sought to charge a fee for the variation of an HMO licence. The Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) ruled that the fee was unlawful and that it could not be charged.

Bristol City Council v Digs (Bristol) Ltd: The defendant was the private landlord of a maisonette in multiple occupation. The council brought a prosecution for failure to obtain an HMO licence and for breaches of the HMO regulations. A District Judge at Bristol Magistrates Court tried the preliminary issue of whether the maisonette was a licensable HMO. It extended over two storeys of a building with a further entrance corridor and hallway on a lower storey. The council included the lower storey in deciding that the HMO extended to three storeys. The Judge held that having regard to Article 3 of the HMO (Prescribed Description) (England) (Order) the maisonette was not an HMO. The council had been wrong to include the lower storey. In the light of that ruling, the council offered no evidence and the defendant was acquitted.

In the wake of these rulings the NLA is asking all local authorities in England to contact any affected landlords, informing them of their right to appropriate refunds and providing details of how they may make a claim.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said:

we have asked local authorities to come clean about the level of fees they have charged private-landlords, if they were entitled to make these charges, and when they will refund any money unjustly demanded.

Mr Lambert went on to add:

“In writing to all local authorities in England we’re acknowledging the good working partnership many private landlords have with town halls, but making clear they should not be absorbing the costs of overcharging to support other council functions”.


Paying rent late will hit credit score Latest Articles

Of interest, I think, to fellow landlords; Experian expects to include 600,000 rental records by year-end of tenants who pay late, starting with social housing and expanding to all private rentals. Lenders will have access to the information next year. Paying rent late will hit credit score

Tenants who get a black mark will could ruin their chances of securing a mortgage, credit card or being accepted by their next landlord. Missed payments will damage a credit score, regular payments will improve it ……


Choosing a property location Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

My buy to let property portfolio is within three miles of my main residence but I would venture further out. My main concern is that I won’t know other areas as well. Choosing a property location

In the past I’ve looked at Rightmove to understand how much properties can be rented for and how many have been let recently. Also, whether its close to a mainline station, town centre and access to motorways for commuters.

With living in the south, places are more expensive and therefore require a bigger deposit.

What are the key things other landlords/investors research when identifying new opportunities with limited knowledge on location?

Thanks

Paul


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