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FOS rule West Brom Tracker Rate Hike is fair Advice, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property118 News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

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.

Representative Action Information Request

 


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, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

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.

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


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, 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”.


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


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