Tag Archives: NLA

FOS rule West Brom Tracker Rate Hike is fair Advice, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property118 News

The FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) have done it again! FOS rule West Brom Tracker Rate Hike is fair

In the past the FOS have controversially agreed that rate hikes applied by Bank of Ireland, Skipton Building Society (Amber Homeloans) and also the Danske Bank (formerly National Irish Bank) were fair. Therefore, is it really that shocking that FOS would also rule in favour of West Bromwich Mortgage Company?

Following a judicial review in the case of Millar & anor -v- Financial Services Ombudsman [2014] IEIC Mr Justice Garard Hogan recently ruled that the Irish FOS were wrong in their contractual interpretation in a rate hike case that the Millars brought against Danske Bank [source1].

This supports the Property118 members’ lack of confidence in the UK FoS decision making process, and hence the decision for Property118 to raise funds to enable their members legal team to stand toe to toe on 21st January 2015 with the West Brom legal team at the Commercial Courts in the Rolls Building.

Property118 members have raised nearly £500,000 and these funds are set to grow as a result of people who complained to the FOS realising that Property118 were right all along to take a representative action to the Courts.

The National Landlords Association initially recommended its members to pursue the FOS route and await the outcome of that before considering legal action. Many of those who followed this advice are enquiring about joining the representative action organised by Property118 as a result of the FOS finding. **West Brom has indicated through its legal team that it will apply the finding of the Court across the board to all affected borrowers**, so all additional support to ensure the right result is achieved is essential.

The Property118 representative group are happy to welcome all who have received the FOS rejection letter. The same financial commitments to those who joined prior to the deadline will apply, plus a small price for the administration costs associated with Cotswold Barristers applying to the Courts to have the names of the newly represented participants added to the claim. A new deadline of 19th December has been applied, this will definitely be the final deadline for legal reasons.

Newcomers are interested in joining the fight in the full knowledge that sufficient funds have already been raised and that the case will be heard on 21st January 2015.

Each member has paid £1,000 into an escrow account held by BARCO (The Bar Council’s Escrow service) plus a further £500 to Property118 and Cotswold Barristers to cover legal costs and associated running and marketing costs of the campaign for each represented mortgage account. Some members have a dozen or more represented mortgages, most have one or two. In the event of the case being won the majority of funds will be returned, plus of course a refund of any over-payments to West Brom and the satisfaction of their terms being upheld as per the borrowers understanding of the tracker rate mortgage contracts they entered into.

Every newcomer to the Property118 reduces the financial exposure to the funds already raised on the basis that all costs are shared pro-rata to funds committed.

** Beware false promises! **

Back in 2009 the CEO of the Skipton Building Society went on record that they would honour an interest rate cap [source2] just one year before that promise was reneged upon [source3]. However, insufficient funds were raised to take the case to court and borrowers have been left high and dry by the FOS and the FCA who decided the rate hike was fair despite the promises made. Perhaps that’s why West Brom borrowers want the certainty of being represented in the Property118 vs West Brom Court case, whilst it is still such a cost effective option?

If you are affected, and are not already a member of the Representative Action, please complete the form below for more details on how to get involved.

Oops! We could not locate your form.

 


Milton Keynes abandon Selective Licensing Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

Milton Keynes City Council has abandoned plans to introduce a proposed city-wide Selective Licensing scheme under pressure from the National Landlords Association NLA.

The NLA have been leading the fight against selective licensing through its local landlord members, meeting with local authorities and action groups as well as launching a social media campaign. Milton Keynes Council concluded last week that the introduction of a city-wide licensing scheme would not solve the issues of poor housing standards, anti-social behavior and low housing demand in the area.

In a further piece of good news for landlords, the council also cut the license fee on all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) by over half, from £800 to £300.

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA said, “this is fantastic news for landlords in Milton Keynes and we thank all those involved in reaching this conclusion.”

“Selective licensing is a powerful tool at the disposal of local authorities, but it should only be used when appropriate. The clear message from Milton Keynes is that they intend to take a more proactive stance and focus on the existing powers they have available to combat poor standards in the area, an approach the NLA has long argued is more effective.”

“It’s important that the NLA represents the views of its members who saw this as the wrong move. Nevertheless, we’re committed to working with Milton Keynes City Council to improve property standards in the area, to promote best practice and to encourage co-operation between the council, landlords and their tenants.”

“As such tenants can take advantage of the NLA Tenant Information Pack, while landlords can get the basic tools to succeed with their property business by signing up as an NLA Associate Landlord on our website.”Selective Licensing


Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company Advice, Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Favourite Articles, Financial Advice, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Press, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News, Property118 News

UPDATE – 31st March 2014

Since publishing this article our campaign has raised over £450,000 and legal action has now commenced. The official closing date for borrowers to be represented in this action was 28th March 2014. However, it may still be possible to be included in the representative action by paying additional fees to cover administration and Court fees to be added to the list of represented claimants. For further details please Contact Carla Morris-Papps at Cotswold Barristers – telephone 01242 639 454 or email carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk

West Brom Tracker Mortgages

Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

Borrowers representing 84 mortgage accounts affected by the West Bromwich Mortgage Company 1.9% rake hike to their tracker rate mortgage margins attended a secret meeting of paid up campaign members on 27th February 2014. At that meeting it was confirmed that 420 affected mortgages are currently represented by the campaign group.

Property118 had previously created a secure forum for paid up members of the group to discuss various legal strategies, one of which was a proposal to West Brom to consider arbitration as an alternative to Court action. Each member had paid £240 for each affected mortgage plus a contribution to a campaign marketing campaign.

Arbitration was proposed for tactical legal reasons which were explained by the groups advisers, some details of which must remain confidential for legal reasons.

This would have been significantly quicker and cheaper for all concerned and had massive upsides to West Brom in that the outcome would be confidential. In other words, if West Brom had lost the case, nobody would have “officially” known about it other than those who had already paid to be a member of the campaign group. This would have meant the worst case scenario for West Brom would be losing no more than 10% of their reported £19 million of additional annual profits from this rate hike.

West Brom refused!

This refusal now plays very nicely into our hands for litigation purposes as it will be frowned upon by the Courts, especially if we lose our case and end up having to pay costs associated with the David and Goliath battle. 😉

The attendees of the meeting voted unanimously to proceed immediately with litigation on the basis proposed by (Mark Smith – Barrister-At-Law) as explained below. Thanks were offered to Justin Selig and his team at The Law Department for his sterling work to date in helping us get to this position. Without their help our campaign may never have got this far.

Litigation will commence during the week of 31st March 2014 with the service of Court Papers. This provides a final opportunity for any remaining affected borrowers to commit to the action by Friday 28th March.

We already have more than double the necessary funds on account to pay our own legal team. Mark Smith has agreed to represent borrowers for a fixed fee of £120 + VAT per affected mortgage subject to there being at least 250 borrowers committed. Further details in his Terms of Business and Instruction letter which can be downloaded by completing the form at the bottom of this page.

Existing campaign members are also reminded that they MUST complete and return the instruction form  to Mark Smith to act for them and the required additional funds by 28th March 2014.

The deadline for submission of instructions has now expired, sorry.

Costs Funding

The primary concern of existing members that had to be overcome was their potentially unlimited liability to the West Brom’s legal costs in the event of losing the case and the “open cheque book” often associated with legal cases. It was agreed that all fears could be overcome by creating a fund to be held in a BARCO escrow account (BARCO is the Bar Council – the regulators of Barristers). This account will provide evidence to the Courts that we have sufficient funds on account to settle the other sides costs in the event of losing the case and having an adverse costs order awarded against the group.

The first step of the legal action will be a costs hearing, as part of a “Case Management Conference”. This is where both sides must submit their costs budgets for the case to the judge and where the judge decides upon reasonableness. If either side fails to do this then the maximum they can claim for costs against the other side is the Court fee, i.e. £175! It is extremely rare for judges to award costs in excess of the agreed costs budget.

Our estimate is that based on the number of affected mortgages being represented, and the possibility of more people now wishing to be represented at this stage, the BARCO account could contain as much as double the other sides costs budget. This is why we are so confident about costs not exceeding the amount of funds that will be held in escrow. In the extremely unlikely event of the groups funds being insufficient to meet a potential costs order the group would have an opportunity to withdraw their case and settle the other sides costs to date.

If/when we win, the contents of the BARCO account will be rolled over to deal with all of the costs associated with the inevitable appeal case and if/when that is won the funds will be returned to members. If we lose, the contents of the escrow account will be used to pay costs awarded to West Brom and the balance of funds will be returned pro-rata to members.

The case will be fought on the basis of a representative action. This means that the ruling of the Courts will only apply to those borrowers who have paid to be represented in the case. There will be no free rides!

We fully appreciate that some affected borrowers will not be able to raise the necessary funds in time to be part of this action so there is a Plan B. Affected borrowers who are not represented may have another opportunity to make claims in a few years time. In the meantime they will continue to pay the higher rate and will probably be expected to forfeit any refund of overpayments in return for a no-win-no-fee arrangement. This could be a far more expensive option, hence the reason why so many affected borrowers are so keen to be part of the imminent legal action.

The legal strategy and process we are undertaking will be a very simple one. There will be no witnesses called so there will be no surprise twists such as those often seen on TV where a new witness or new evidence appears at the last minute. On this basis, we anticipate the case, including any appeal, to be concluded before Christmas.

We will only be asking the Courts to rule on two things:-

1) Based on the documentation produced by West Brom, do they have the right to increase the tracker margin?

2) Based on the documentation produced by West Brom, do they have the right to call in loans within 28 days without the borrower being in default?

There has been lots of discussion about whether West Brom did or did not provide all of the documentation they are now relying upon. This is not relevant to our case.

There has also been much discussion about Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations; again this is not relevant to our case.

It has been questioned whether in fact the mortgages issued by West Brom were indeed trackers, this cannot be denied by West Brom as this is the basis they report them to the rating standards agencies – see this link

The agreed level of funds to be deposited into the BARCO account is £1,144 per affected mortgage being represented. For example, somebody wishing to have 10 affected mortgages represented will need to deposit a further £11,440 into the BARCO account. Existing members will receive a refund of unused funds which they paid into the client account of The Law Department. New members will need to pay an additional premium of £356 per mortgage to the Property118 marketing fund to equalise the financial contributions and efforts of the forerunners of the group.

Therefore, the net payment per affected mortgage for members will be:

  • For existing members who have already instructed The Law Department £994 (assuming a refund of £150 per affected mortgage from The Law Department)
  • For new members the total cost per mortgage to be represented will be £1,500

We have created a simple set of instructions explaining how much you need to pay and who you need to pay it to here >>> http://www.property118.com/simplified-payment-instructions-join-west-brom-action/

Remember, if/when we win you will get more than this amount back when you also factor in 100% of the extra 1.9% interest you have been paying which will also be refunded. The worst case scenario is that you will get none of this money back if we lose. If you can live with that you should proceed.

The reason we have chosen this strategy as opposed to buying ATE insurance is that it costs us much less if we win. We are in this to win this. The above strategy means that we all know what we stand to lose and can proceed with our eyes wide open, confident that our liabilities are limited.

If the balance of the BARCO account associated with this action is less than £250,000 by close of business on Friday 28th March 2014 the legal action case will be aborted, funds will be returned to members within 14 days and that will be the end of the line for this campaign for myself and Property118 – at least for 12 months or more anyway. If necessary we will then take another look at Plan B.

UPDATE – 31st March 2014

Since publishing this article our campaign has raised over £450,000 and legal action has now commenced. The official closing date for borrowers to be represented in this action was 28th March 2014. However, it may still be possible to be included in the representative action by paying additional fees to cover administration and Court fees to be added to the list of represented claimants. For further details please Contact Carla Morris-Papps at Cotswold Barristers – telephone 01242 639 454 or email carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk


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.


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


200 Housing benefits tenants are served section 21 notice by Kent Landlord Landlord News, Latest Articles

Kent based Landlord Mr Fergus Wilson reported to the press that he has served section 21 notices to more than 200 tenants on housing benefits asking them to leave after six months.

Mr Wilson has a portfolio of over 1000 properties and has decided not to rent in the future to tenants claiming housing benefit preferring instead tenants from Eastern Europe who he says are more likely to pay their rent on time.

Mr Wilson said, “this decision is only down to money it has nothing to do with the personalities involved.

“When it comes to money over half of people on benefits were defaulting on their rent, and when it comes to people who are working, we’ve not had one single person default on one single penny. You can appreciate why. Rents are going up in line with the price of houses and housing benefit levels are dropping at the same time.

“Tenants from eastern Europe, places like Poland, have been here a number of years now and have built up a good enough credit rating to rent privately. We won’t see the impact of more recent migration for years to come, but people on benefits are having to compete with them.

“My message to people is get yourself a job, and you will get yourself a house.”

Mr Wilson also added “The problem is that you have a finite number of houses, but more people wanting to rent them than places are available. With that pressure, what tends to give is the poorest people at the bottom of the economic pile.

“We are going to be in a position in the next 20 years where it becomes more and more difficult for people to find housing, and no one seems to have an answer. You tell people in a place like Ashford that they need more housing and they’re likely to lynch you they are sick of being built on, but it’s a fact.”

The NLA has also released a statement regarding this story in the press:

Chief Executive Officer, Richard Lambert said, “our current research shows we’re seeing more and more landlords moving away from renting to tenants claiming benefits.

“It was widely assumed that rent rises were fueled by housing benefit, and that if benefit rates were reduced, rents would fall back to meet them. That’s been shown to be a completely false assumption. There are many wider factors affecting rent levels, principally the availability of properties and the number of people looking to rent.

“As the Welfare Reform agenda has progressed over the past three years, benefit levels haven’t kept up with rents, meaning it’s a greater risk for landlords renting to tenants who rely on benefits, which is why they are looking more and more to working tenants who don’t tend to fall into arrears that easily. The fact is that there are many more working tenants looking to rent because it is still so difficult for first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder. “However, we know of many landlords who have rented to housing benefit tenants on for many years and have never had a problem, so our advice would be to always look at every tenant on an individual basis.

“Being a landlord is a business and there are landlords who specialise in letting in the housing benefit market. They tend to be the more experienced landlords with larger portfolios, who understand how to manage tenancies to ensure stability and minimise the risk of arrears.”

The following interview with Fergus Wilson appears courtesy of Property Tribes

No sign


Universal Credit is not a debacle Parliament told by IDS! Landlord News, Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

Mr Iain Duncan Smith the Work and Pensions Secretary, admitted to Parliament yesterday that the Universal credit system was not yet ready for couples who make a claim.

This was after a storm on Sky News using NLA figures showing that the number of landlords letting to people on benefits has crashed from 46% to just 22% in the last three years.  52% of landlords say they would not consider letting to someone on benefits and 70% of those who do have experienced rent arrears in the past 12 months averaging £3,000 each.

Universal credit has been widely criticised in all the pilot areas it has been rolled out in by landlords. In every area it lead to a significant increase in rent arrears largely because tenants are now responsible for their own household budgets with housing benefits not being paid directly to landlords.

Mr Duncan Smith told Parliament that reforms were on track despite delays and writing off more than £40m worth of software designed for the new Universal Credit with a further £90m of equipment that would be worthless in five years’ time.

MPs on the Commons work and pensions select committee were told that claims by couples had to be handled manually because the computer system could not cope as it was designed for single adults and had not been configured for couples or claimants with children.

Mr Howard Shiplee, the former London Olympics executive who was brought in this year to trouble shoot, told the MPs that problems arose if a single claimant met a new partner and moved in with him or her. He said “As the potential for claimants to change circumstances, for things to change … the more complicated it becomes.

“Therefore the next stage is to work on couples. That will be a complicated issue. Couples come together, they divide, they have children, things happen.”

“This sort of software is not something you get on the back of a cigarette packet. It’s complicated.”

Mr Duncan Smith claimed the scheme’s assets were worth £152m and Universal credit could ultimately boost the economy by up to £38bn over ten years by moving claimants off benefits.

It was confirmed last week that the 2017 target for the full introduction of Universal Credit will be missed with 700,000 claimants facing a longer wait.Universal-Credit


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


Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees HMO's & Student Lets, Latest Articles

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”.


Capita TDP to be taken over by MyDeposits Landlord News, Latest Articles

The Capita TDP (Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme) has been closed to accepting new deposits since the 14th of September this year.

Capita a corporate giant and FTSE 100 company was only awarded the contract by Government to operate the scheme from the 1st April 2013 (no pun intended) in an effort to increase competition and drive down costs for this service. Mydeposits has however stepped in to take over responsibility for Capita TDP protections in England & Wales after confirming their withdrawal from the market.

All of Capita TDP’s existing deposit protections will be automatically transferred to mydeposits from 1st December 2013. Landlords, agents and tenants in England &Wales will also have access to the scheme’s dispute resolution service. Capita TDP has now written to all existing members informing them of the news.

All transferred deposits will continue to be protected throughout the duration of the fixed term tenancy. my|deposits will also reissue a new Deposit Protection Certificate (DPC) and the relevant Information for Tenant’s leaflet for each protection.

Eddie Hooker, CEO of mydeposits, said: “Capita TDP’s existing landlord and agent members can rest assured they’re in safe hands with mydeposits. The experience and knowledge we derive from partnership with the both the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) means we’re well placed to manage the handover following Capita’s withdrawal.”

“Landlords, agents and tenants will also have access to our free award-winning dispute resolution service, giving them peace of mind that the deposit will be returned fairly if they’re unable to reach an agreement over its return.”

“We’re on hand to speak to existing Capita members who have concerns regarding the transfer of their deposits. Landlords, agents and tenants can also visit our website www.mydeposits.co.uk where they can find details of the scheme and a range of useful guidance and advice on deposit protection issues”.Capita TDP


Should Landlords do immigration checks? Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

As it stands, this is precisely what the Government is planning to do by introducing an Immigration Bill to Parliament including a civil scheme to penalise leasing accommodation to illegal immigrants. The scheme is intended to come into effect in 2014. Government’s proposals, as set out in the relevant Government consultation document, are summarised below. The scheme ultimately implemented may vary. Should Landlords do immigration checks?

The Government suggests that landlords check tenants’ immigration status, but will recognise the agreed transfer of the duty to a letting agent. Where a landlord has performed checks according to Government guidelines, the landlord will be able to claim a statutory exemption from penalty. Where a property is rented out to a company, the Government proposes that the company is responsible for making checks.

Rechecks might have to be made annually for those with temporary leave. A landlord would be required not to renew a tenancy agreement if a tenant cannot provide documentation at the time of recheck, but would not be required to take possession proceedings. The landlord would also be required to report the suspected illegal migrant to the Home Office.

The Home Office proposes two possible levels of penalty, £1,000 or £3,000 per illegal immigrant, depending on the landlord’s compliance history. In addition to objecting on the basis of having performed the document checks, a landlord would be able to object based on not being liable.

Our bone of contention is the requirement to report tenants whose immigration paperwork expires during the course of the tenancy. If this happens to an employer, assuming the employee has been in employment for less than two years, they can summarily dismiss them without being accused of unfair dismissal. Although the member of staff would have to leave employment that day, there are no risks to the employer. But landlords on the other hand, are subject to housing legislation and cannot summarily evict a tenant, even if they wanted to, for losing the right of abode in the UK.

The government says that Landlords should simply report the tenant to the home office. Much of the Landlords business as we know it, relies on good tenant relations, and asking tenants repeatedly about their immigration status is unlikely to augur well. Also tenants could understandably become aggrieved if the landlord reports them to the home office. They may feel desperate, stop paying rent and even become hostile and take out their frustration on the landlord or the property.

The danger is that landlords would avoid taking tenants with restricted immigration status for fear of repercussions. This is hopeless for prospective tenants who happen to have short visas and hope to renew them and could be unlawful discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity or race. It also flies in the face of a number of other government policies, such as a desire to attract overseas students and the best talent for global businesses based in the UK.

Anecdotal reports shows that lots of people confuse issues of immigration status and ethnicity. A BBC report recently demonstrated the blatant discrimination that black applicants can experience. A white applicant for a flat was offered a viewing by an agent where the black tenant was wrongly told that the same flat had been taken. The agent said that they were complying with the landlord’s instructions, but this is unlawful. There are landlords who say that they prefer not to house people from certain ethnicities because of one bad experience. Apart from the social injustice, this attitude just makes bad business sense because the landlord is restricting their pool of applicants and perpetuating their own fixed attitude.

The Government plan to impose these immigration check responsibilities on Landlords will make finding rented property for black and ethnic minority tenants even more difficult. Many landlords have voiced their concerns that they will be turned into the border police, which is not good for community relations.

The government on its part, argues that there is a lot of support for these measures and that it is simply not fair that people who pay nothing into the system should be able to enjoy the benefits of living in the UK. This argument I might highlight, is flawed as many people here illegally work extremely hard in the shadow economy and are helping to regenerate the UK. Measures like these checks, will push them even further underground and into the hands of exploitative criminal landlords.

This article was submitted to Property118 by zone4homes.com


West Bromwich Tracker Rate Mortgages Legal Action Group Legal

West Brom Tracker MortgagesNearly 1,000 people have registered an interest in the Class Action groups challenging the legality of the increases to tracker mortgage interest rate margins proposed/implemented by West Bromwich and Bank of Ireland. Many of the people who have registered are not affected at this time but are sufficiently concerned about the potential knock on effects to the attitudes of other lenders to make a donation to the Class Action Marketing Fund. We must spread the word to ensure that we win these cases in order to to discourage other mortgage lenders from following suit. Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

Funds raised towards the legal fighting fund are being held in a solicitors client account which complies fully with The Law Society rules and is protected by client money protection insurance and the solicitors compensation fund until they are billed.  The objective is to raise sufficient money to be in a position to fund group action court cases and associated legal expenses insurance. No court cases will begin until such time as sufficient funds are raised to protect and limit the liabilities of all participants to the amount of funds pledged up front. If Court cases are not required or are not affordable then any surplus funds held on account will be returned pro-rata to the members of each group.

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

On these grounds we have raised more than enough money to cover the initial legal work and the costs of obtaining Counsels opinion. In fact, even after taking these costs which amount to £15,000 out of the funds raised to date we are 25% towards our minimum target fund raising to commence litigation.

We will NOT settle on any basis.

In our opinion we are more likely to raise the required funds on this basis.

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?

To Do List

  • Complete the Class Action Expression of Interest Form – Link here You will then receive emails advising you what to do next.
  • Please make a donation to the marketing fund to help spread the word – link here
  • If your are directly affected then complain to your mortgage lender and copy in the Financial Ombudsman Service using this letter template

Latest media coverage in which our campaigns are named/linked

BBC Website

BBC TV News Channel “Your Money” (10 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)

The Telegraph

iDoStuff

Guild of Residential Landlords

What Sam Saw Today – part One

What Sam Saw Today – part Two

House Selling Advice

Chesterfield Post

Also see our forums …

West Bromwich Building Society

Bank of Ireland

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

Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates


Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates Buy to Let News, Commercial Finance Broker Blog, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property News

Over 1,000 people have registered an interest in the Class Action groups challenging the legality of the increases to tracker mortgage interest rate margins proposed/implemented by West Bromwich and Bank of Ireland. Many of the people who have registered are not affected at this time but are sufficiently concerned about the potential knock on effects to the attitudes of other lenders to make a donation to the Class Action Marketing Fund. We must spread the word to ensure that we win these cases in order to to discourage other mortgage lenders from following suit. Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

Funds raised towards the legal fighting fund are being held in a solicitors client account which complies fully with The Law Society rules and is protected by client money protection insurance  and the solicitors compensation fund until they are billed.  The objective is to raise sufficient money to be in a position to fund group action court cases and associated legal expenses insurance. No court cases will begin until such time as sufficient funds are raised to protect and limit the liabilities of all participants to the amount of funds contributed up front. If Court cases are not required or are not affordable then any surplus funds held on account will be returned pro-rata to the members of each group.

Latest media coverage in which our campaigns are named/linked

BBC Website

BBC TV News Channel “Your Money” (10 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)

The Telegraph

iDoStuff

Guild of Residential Landlords

What Sam Saw Today – part One

What Sam Saw Today – part Two

House Selling Advice

Chesterfield Post

Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

Existing supporters of the Class Action campaign are to be congratulated for their efforts to date.

If you wish to get involved please see the To-Do list below.

  • Complete the Class Action Expression of Interest Form – Link here You will then receive emails advising you what to do next.
  • Please make a donation to the marketing fund to help spread the word – Link here
  • Complain to your lenders and copy in the Financial Ombudsman Service – letter template here
  • email watchdog@bbc.co.uk
  • Write to your local MP – find your local MP via this link several MP’s have already referred this matter to the chancellor of the exchequer or the chairman of the treasury select committee. The more support the better so we need everybody to write.
  • Contact your local newspapers – use this Press Release as a base and add your personal story as the media love case studies with local interest
  • Post articles linking back to Property118 on websites/blogs and post links in Facebook Groups and other online forums

West Bromwich BS Class Action Update

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

On these grounds we have raised more than enough money to cover the initial legal work and the costs of obtaining Counsels opinion. In fact, after taking these costs out of the funds raised to date we are 27% towards our minimum target fund raising to commence litigation. Now I don’t know about you but if Counsels opinion is that we have a VERY strong case I would definitely consider paying a lot more than I’ve paid already to take this all the way. £240 a case is a tiny fraction of what we all stand to lose, not just in terms of this lender but possibly others too.

In a months time we will have Counsels opinion. These are the scenario’s I have considered.

1) Worst case scenario is that we will be advised that we do not have a case. If that happens, costs to date will be taken from the funds raised and we will all get a refund pro-rata.

2) We are advised that we have a good case but we do not have enough money in the pot to fight it. We will then have to set a closing date for the fund and have a vote amongst members on how much they are prepared to pay if necessary. I suggest a pledge of up to one years worth of savings because if we start trying to set amounts we could be going back and forth forever more if people decide they are are in at one level and out at another. If we still don’t have enough money pledged at the end of such an exercise then it’s possibly game over, i.e. contributions are refunded net of expenses to all named borrowers.

3) We have enough money in the pot and counsels opinion is that we should fight.

We will NOT settle on any basis.

In our opinion, we are more likely to raise the required funds on this basis.

We have a moral duty to do what is right for those who support the values upon which we started this campaign in the first place. 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.

Who’s with me?

West Bromwich Legal Action So Far

Tracker Rate Mortgage Class Actions UpdatesWe appointed solicitors to consider the actions of the West Bromwich BS tracker mortgage hike in interest rate margins at the beginning of October. Well over 100 affected borrowers have sent their papers and fees to the solicitor representing the group.

The solicitor acting for the group has been asked NOT to commit chargeable time to respond to individual telephone calls and emails from affected borrowers, this is to preserve funds. All questions should be raised via the Property118 forums to prevent duplication of efforts.

Around £15,000 of the funds raised to date will be used to complete the following steps. The balance will be held towards a Court action fighting fund, the target for which is £100,000 plus.

  1. To seek counsels opinion on the legality of the actions of West Bromwich and to seek advice on the most direct legal options to pursue. The solicitor acting for the group has appointed one of the UK’s leading banking barristers at Stone Buildings London
  2. The solicitor acting will provide template letters for all paid up members to send to the solicitors who acted in the transaction. This letter will advise the solicitors to put their PI insurers on notice and also ask the solicitors to comment on why they did not offer advice on the clauses now being used by West Bromwich BS.
  3. A further template letter for affected borrowers to submit as a follow up to initial complaints to the Financial Ombudsman service will also be prepared by the solicitors acting for the group and will be based on counsels opinion. There is no rush to do this, we have up to six months, hence the decision to await Counsels opinion in respect of the best possible legal arguments to present.
  4. The solicitor acting on behalf of the group has already sent  a letter to Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. A response is awaited.
  5. The solicitor acting on behalf of the group will submit formal complaints to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service once Counsels opinion has been received. A further complaint may be submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority dependent upon counsels advice.

Bank of Ireland Class Action Update

More pressure needs to be put on the Financial Conduct Authority to obtain their own independent advice as to the legality of the actions already implemented by the Bank of Ireland.  They received our barristers opinion, sent it to BoI who obtained comment from their QC and then decided to do nothing further. Our solicitor is of the opinion that the FCA response was a “whitewash” as they did not seek their own independent advice prior to making a decision. The more noise we can make about this the better as we need them to reconsider their position. Pressure is intensifying from the Treasury Select committee to lean on the FCA as more MP’s get embroiled in the debate following complaints from their constituents. Fundraising will recommence in due course, in the meantime, a QC working at the same chambers as the barrister we instructed has volunteered to review the opinion of our barrister and the responses from the FCA and the Bank of Ireland.

Fees applicable to the Bank of Ireland Class action are likely to be £240 per property, less any fees paid to date. We will advise you when the fundraising re-commences. Our objective is to significantly increase the numbers of interested parties before fund raising recommences. We are quietly confident that the promotional activities described in this update article will increase the numbers of interested participants.

The Financial Ombudsman Service are yet to make a decision based on the formal complaint regarding the actions of Bank of Ireland. It has been 7 months now since the FOS opened this case and their are still pontificating how to deal with it. If you believe this is an unacceptable delay the address to write to is The Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR.

In both cases

Preference remains to persuade a regulator to take the cases to Court as this will significantly reduce costs to affected borrowers.

Disclosure – in group legal action cases it is normal for both sides to be aware of each others legal arguments before a Court case commences. Therefore, there is no risk to debating legal points in open forum. There is, however, a positive upside in that it continues to provide media with new stories and people to contact for case studies. Exposure is what we need to build the group.

The Marketing Fund

The purpose of the marketing fund is to increase awareness of the campaign. This fund is held separately to the Class Action legal fighting fund which is held in a solicitors client account protected by client money protection insurance. The marketing fund is administered by Innovative Landlord Solutions LLP which is the owner of Property118.com.

Initiatives funded so far include sending letters to a database of mortgage brokers and financial advisers. The database was rented from Equifax and we chose to send letters as opposed to emails in order to guarantee delivery. We have also completed significant Search Engine Optimisation to make it easier for people surfing the internet to learn about our campaigns.

A Press Conference, open to paid up members of the Class action Group, and those who have contributed to the marketing fund, will be organised shortly after we have receive Counsels opinion on the West Brom case and the QC’s opinion in respect of our submission of the BoI case to the FCA, their response and the BoI’s QC’s response to the FCA. All responses are anticipated to be received towards the end of November with the Press Conference being held in London shortly thereafter. Surplus funds in the marketing fund, which are still continuing to flow in nicely, are being held towards this event. Funds raised since our first call for donations to a Marketing Fund on 3rd October are now approaching £4,000 of which £3,375 has been utilised to date.

Facebook Marketing

We have done some research and we are able to contact in the region of 230,000 to 420,000 people via Facebook for a budget of £800. These will be friends of friends of people who have “Liked” the Property118 Facebook page. On the basis that people socialise with like minded people this could be an excellent target audience.

Details via this link >>> http://www.property118.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Facebook-Promo.png

The beauty of this type of advertising is that we can add credit to reach more people as and when we receive donations.

If you wish to donate to the the fund please see >>> http://www.property118.com/much-appreciated/ and send us an email to let us know that you wish the funds you have donated to be used to fund Facebook marketing. The email address to write to is mark@property118.com

All comments via the main discussion threads please.

Bank of Ireland

West Bromwich Building Society

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


Boiler Theft – Copper and Carpets Too! Latest Articles

I had a call about one of my properties in the Middlesbrough area that has gone downhill quite a way since I bought it 10 years ago.

It was one of John Paul’s merry crew at Castledene who told me that the place has had its back door kicked in, all copper piping, cable, boiler and even the almost new carpets pinched. It has been void for 2 months despite the offer to the local Homeless Unit and other caring organisations.

Evidently there are no homeless people in Middlesbrough who would like what is effectively a free (LHA rate only) 3 bed house, newly decorated and carpeted, with a modern gas central heating system and UPVC windows and doors. I am even throwing in cable TV and broadband free for 6 months and £100 to help with removal expenses!

So the loss adjuster has been in and sucked air through his teeth and we are in the process of getting estimates to make good. It hits the 90 day vacant limit of my insurers next week (The NLA members scheme at Alan Boswell) and I am told that none of the insurers they use for vacant property will accept it while a claim is in progress, so I am not going to have theft, accidental or malicious damage cover as of then.

Crime Prevention officers helpfully suggest that we don’t reinstate pipes, cables or boiler until, immediately before occupation. Not realistic as it’s hard enough to let as it is!

I have bleated to the council asking what is being done about this result of their selective licensing elsewhere in Middlesbrough driving the less desirable to my area. No useful reply as yet despite the mayor being Ray “Robocop” Mallon the former controversially tough “Zero Tolerance” copper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Mallon

Questions:

1. How to get insurance worthy of the name until I have a tenant
2. How to get the place (and one in the next street) tenanted
3. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) Best security measures to prevent a repeat. There is an alarm system there, which I am looking into having reinstated, assuming it isn’t working, and I plan to arrange curtains, blinds and lights on timers.

Many thanks

Jerryburglary


Why Aren’t We More Worried About Withdrawal of Benefits? Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

I am interested that I can’t see any response to, or comment about, George Osborne’s announcement last week to withdraw benefits to claimants – first for 1 month, then for 3 months. Am I the only landlord with social tenants?!

There are serious implications.

Here is an extract of a letter I am sending to Right Hon GO, and to Kris Hopkins, the NLA and any one else who will listen. If you have social tenants I’d urge you to do the same.

As a landlord in the private rented sector I house many tenants who are on benefits.
I know from experience that when a tenant’s benefits are withdrawn, all benefits are withdrawn, including housing benefit/local housing allowance.

In my experience this is always without notice to the landlord. The first that they will know is when the tenant does not pay their rent, or if they are on direct payment, when direct payment does not arrive.

However, I am sure that you will appreciate that in the meantime the mortgage and other bills still have to be paid by the landlord.

My concern is this.

Unless an element of the benefits is ring-fenced to pay the equivalent of housing benefit or local housing allowance, landlords such as myself, who house social tenants on benefits, could see rent payments not being made when benefits are withdrawn.

Under the current legal system there is a defined process by which landlords have to operate in order to gain possession of the property. In practice this can take anywhere months and, in exceptional circumstances, up to a year when a tenant does not comply with court orders and a bailiff needs to be appointed.

It is therefore entirely conceivable that if benefits are withdrawn from a claimant that the landlord will be left with a property with a non-paying tenant.

I would also like to point out that even if an element of the benefit were ring fenced to provide for rent, this would have to be paid directly to the landlord, otherwise I have no doubt that many tenants would use the money in lieu of job seekers allowance or whichever benefit has been withdrawn.

I would therefore urge yourself and Mr Hopkins to consider one or more of the following:

• In the event that benefits are withdrawn, either for one month, three months, or even longer, that an element of that benefit is ring fenced and paid direct to the landlord so that the tenant’s rent is covered.
• That legislation be passed to allow landlords to obtain fast track possession of the property where a tenant is has benefits withdrawn.
• That legislation be passed whereby mortgage lenders be required to waive mortgage payments where a tenant has benefits withdrawn and cannot, or will not, pay their rent.

Again I would urge you to consider these, as sadly, from experience, I know, and I am sure that many other landlords who house social tenants will agree, that the ‘punishment’ for not complying with the terms of claiming benefits will not fall upon the claimant, but will fall upon the landlord.

I would also urge the government, and particularly Mr Hopkins, to decide once and for all how you perceive the private rented sector, specifically in terms of housing social tenants through private landlords.

It seems to me that there is a lack of understanding within government as to the pressures and problems that private landlords face in housing tenants on benefits.

In this age of austerity where few council houses are being built, and the responsibility for housing social tenants’ falls mainly upon private landlords, it would be nice to think that the government support our efforts. Sadly, however, that does not seem to be the case as ideas are put forward, and legislation passed, which does little to help and much to hinder.

If it is still the intention of the government that social tenants are housed primarily by the private rented sector then can I humbly suggest that greater consultation is made with those at the sharp end who house social tenants, and that the ideas and legislation put forward encourage private landlords and not discourage.

Regards

Petergeorge osbourne


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

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.

OUR INTENDED CLASS ACTION LITIGATION OVERVIEW

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


Buy to Let Mortgages to remain legal announces EU Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

The Mortgage Directive, officially known as the ‘Credit Agreements Related to Residential Property Directive’ (CARRP) attempted to create a single regulatory framework which would govern all mortgages within the European Union. The EU lobbied hard for this directive so that EU citizens would understand the regularity regimes when purchasing properties in different member states.

However, in constructing the Directive, the EU Commission didn’t take into account the nuances of unusual mortgage products such as buy-to-let that exist in some member states. Therefore, when the Directive was sent to the European Parliament, the text would have made buy-to-let mortgages illegal. This would have been catastrophic for the UK’s private-rented sector.

Had the Directive passed in its original form, it would have been disastrous for landlords operating in the UK’s private-rented sector and the economy as a whole. Buy to Let Mortgages to remain legal announces EU

The final text is now going through the trialogue process which involves all 27 Heads of State and the European Parliament who will analyse the new text before voting on the new Directive to sign it off.

David Cox, Senior Policy Officer for the NLA says:

“The NLA is very pleased with the EU’s decision to exclude buy-to-let mortgages from the Directive. We have lobbied hard to ensure the UK’s main facility for investing in property to rent can remain in place.

“The private-rented sector is currently the only growing part of the UK’s housing market and I am certain that a mortgage Directive including buy-to-let mortgages would have prohibited this.

“This really is a success for the NLA and its European colleagues.”


Rental Fraud up by 92% Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, NLA - National Landlords Association

The Office of National Statistics reported rental fraud has increased by 92% over the last two years.

The total cost per year of rental fraud now comes to £755 million per year, and on average it costs each individual victim £2,394 which works out to over 315,000 conned in the last 12 months.

Rental fraud is perpetrated by someone purporting to be a Landlord or Letting agent deceiving new tenants into paying upfront fees for a non-existent property, or to multiple victims at the same time for the same property.

Reporting on these figures Richard Lambert CEO of the National Landlords Association has the following advice for tenants.

“Tenants should always visit the property with the landlord or letting agent before handing over a deposit.

Where possible, tenants should pay a deposit using a credit card or via a direct debit to gain some protection from the banks – never hand over cash.

Tenants should look for professional landlords who are members of a professional body such as the NLA.

If using a letting agent, tenants should look for tenants who are members of a trade body such as The UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) or the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

UKALA members are required to have Client Money Protection in place which means that all monies given to the agent are insured.

If the tenant is not sure about a letting agent, they should call trading standards before entering into any contracts.”Rental Fraud


Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes Latest Articles

The alternatives to Landlord Licensing Schemes require joined up thinking, changes to data sharing protocols within local authorities and revised high level directives and strategies which must begin at Government level. 

Perhaps the first question to ask is what is Landlord Licensing all about? Is it really about raising standards or is it more to do with raising funds?Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes

Funding

If society as a whole desires that people should not be subjected to sub standard housing conditions then society as a whole must pay to enforce this (howsoever that might be done) whether the money is raised at a local level or centrally.

It is both unacceptable and wholly undemocratic that landlords should be singled out by Government, Councils and Local Authorities to pay stealth taxes badged as licensing fees on the pretence that the money will be used to fund enforcement related initiatives.

Costs associated with licensing schemes imposed on landlords are funded through increased rents. Neither landlords nor tenants want this, particularly as there is clear evidence (demonstrated in this article) that landlord licensing schemes have proven not to be an effective solution to problems in the Private Rented Sector.

Recycling of Court awarded penalties

The high costs associated with prosecuting criminal landlords is borne by Local Authorities, however, fines and penalties go to the treasury. If these funds were to be redirected to the prosecuting authorities this would assist funding of additional prosecutions and create incentives to bring more criminal landlords to task. Continue reading Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes


How to help bring about changes to legislation post “Superstrike” Buy to Let News, Guest Articles, Guest Columns, Landlord Action, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Legal, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property News, The GOOD Landlords Campaign

One of the things that are uppermost in landlords’ minds at the moment is the concern that we are vulnerable to possible litigation following the “Superstrike” case. The degree of that vulnerability varies from landlord to landlord and of course some landlords are not at all clear where they stand.Mary Latham

All of the deposit protection schemes and large landlords associations are working behind the scenes to persuade DCLG to tweak legislation to prevent courts being overrun with cases from tenants who have not actually been deprived of their legal rights but have become aware of the loophole that Superstrike highlighted.  In other words they are not asking for a change in the law which would enable those landlords who do not/did not protect their tenants deposits (HA 2004 & Localism Act 2012) to get away with it.  What they are asking for is a change which prevents those landlords who believed that they were acting within the law from facing litigation from their past and present tenants. These are the landlords who do/did protect their tenants deposits and provided the tenant with the Deposit Protection Certificate and Prescribed Information for Tenants within 30 days of having received the deposit but who were unaware that they needed to provide the documents again, despite the deposit protection continuing and no new paperwork being issued, at the point at which the fixed term of the tenancy ended and a Statutory Periodic Tenancy began (HA 1988). There are also those landlords who have tenancies that began before the Deposit Protection legislation came into affect (HA 2004) and therefore did not protect their tenants deposits. These landlords were also unaware that if the tenancy became a Statutory Periodic Tenancy at the end of the fixed term after the law changed that they should have protected the deposit and served the documents on their tenants. This last point was the crux of the Superstrike case.

In addition to the concerns many of us have about the potential litigation (it has not yet been established that there is actually a threat beyond the circumstances of Superstrike) is the issue of not being able to regain Possession of properties using Section 21 (HA 1988)

In order to convince Government that this is a major problem in the PRS they need to be shown actual evidence and the only people who can give them that evidence is us (landlords and letting agents).  All of the organisations involved in the discussions have produced a short survey to gather the facts.

The combined results will be present to DCLG.

The survey will take just a few minutes of your time and will not ask you to identify yourself.

If you do not take the time and trouble to complete the survey we may lose the argument and fail to get the legislative changes that we all need. 

Please follow the link  below and do your part to bring about a solution for us all before the Courts are filled with cases brought by the “No Win No Fee” people that have sprung up to make easy money from landlords who have simply made a mistake and have not in any way deprived our tenants of their legal rights.

Please also send a link to this article to every landlord you know to make certain they aware of this very important survey.

Click this link >>> https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NLASS

When I completed the survey I found that I needed to read it first then work out which category my deposits fell into before going back and completing it – which took less than 2 minutes. By doing the calculations for this survey I am now clear of where I stand with each of my tenancies.

This was a useful exercise and may help me going forward when the inevitable happens and a landlord is sued by a tenant for one of the possible scenario.

I think that you may find this helpful too.


Rent arrears stats are improving says the NLA Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association

According to the latest research from the National Landlords Association (NLA), incidences of arrears have fallen to their lowest level for over two years.

39 per cent of landlords have experienced instances of rental arrears in the last 12 months, down nine per cent year on year and back to levels previously seen in quarter one 2010.

Void periods in private-residential property have also fallen, down five per cent since last Quarter to 33 per cent, a low last seen in 2012.

At a regional level, voids are greatest in the North East of England where 60 per cent of landlords have experienced empty periods in the last three months and lowest in the South West of England where only 20 per cent of landlords have experienced voids over the same time frame.

The research results also established that seven in ten voids are unplanned. And landlords are covering the financial impact of voids using various means:

• 33 per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using rent from other properties

• 10 per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using their other income or salary

• Nine per cent of landlords cover the costs of a void period using funds from their savings

Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the NLA, says:

“It is positive to see reductions in the instances of arrears and voids. This demonstrates that long term, enduring tenancies are on the rise as it is in every landlords’ business interest to maintain good, long lasting tenancies and avoid voids.

“However, it is worrying that void periods often come as a surprise to landlords. Whilst voids represent more of a problem in the North than in the South, where demand is far higher, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements.

“The NLA’s advice to landlords looking to minimise void periods is to talk openly with their tenants about their future plans. This will give the landlord some idea of when the property might next be empty and allow them to make any improvements and plan advertising activity in good time. It is also wise to budget for 11 months’ rent per year to avoid needing to find additional funds to cover outgoings if a void does arise.”


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