Tag Archives: Property

Lodger or not a lodger? Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment Strategies

Hi everyone,

In 2010 my mother gave me the family home (transfer of equity) the solicitor at the time suggested adding a covenant to affect that I couldn’t evict my mother when the transfer was complete. This was never my intention.

Fast forward to 2017 when I met my girlfriend. I moved into her home just over a year into the relationship.

I was happy to let my mother live rent free and I took care of any problems with the house.

However, back in November 2022, my girlfriend wanted to separate which was a massive shock. I decided to move back into my home with my mother still living there.

I’m pretty much living in my bedroom as my mother is determined for me to get out and she’s also inviting people round who I don’t like or trust (family members) they have made it so uncomfortable and unsafe for me and my children when they visit.

I overheard my mother tell her friend that she’s looking into reversing the transfer of equity. I do fear for mine and my children’s safety.

Is there anything I can do to evict my mother even with the Covenant in place?

Also can she reverse the transfer of equity after all these years ?

Thanks in advance for any help.

J


BoE base rate rise – property experts respond Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News

News that the Bank of England has pushed up the base interest rate by 50 basis points to a 14-year high of 3.5% has left many property experts wondering whether property buyers will get more help and whether another rise will be forthcoming.

This is the ninth rise in a year as the bank bids to tackle rocketing prices and inflation – the interest rate was increased last month from 2.25% to 3%.

Lawrence Bowles, the director of research at Savills, said: “While rates today are the highest they have been for more than a decade, they have risen by less than markets or economists were predicting earlier in the year.

‘Likely to see a slowdown in transaction activity’

“However, debt costs are still far higher than they were twelve months ago. This means we’re likely to see a slowdown in transaction activity from mortgaged buyers over the next few months, with cash buyers gaining a relative advantage.

“With the pace of interest rate hikes slowing and the possibility of rate cuts on the horizon, the picture looks like it will improve for mortgaged buyers in 2024 and beyond.”

He adds that Savills is forecasting that house prices will begin to recover next year and that the average house price will rise by a net figure of +6% in nominal terms over the next five years.

‘This rise was largely expected’

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said: “It’s important to remember that this rise was largely expected by the markets and so will already have been factored into many mortgage lenders’ fixed rates.

“So, the good news is we don’t expect this rise in the base rate to translate directly into increases in current fixed mortgage interest rates.”

He added: “In late September we saw a rapid increase in mortgage interest rates beyond the base rate trajectory, so the indications are that the direction of travel of fixed-rate mortgage deals will be downward next year.

“The rise in the base rate will affect those on a tracker mortgage, though average tracker rates are currently lower than fixed-rate deals.”

‘3.5% may not be the peak for the base rate’

Mark Harris, the chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “While 3.5% may not be the peak for the base rate, we don’t believe it needs to, or can go, much higher.

“Fixed rates are influenced by future base rate movements and therefore not directly linked to what is decided this week.

“Indeed, the pricing of fixed-rate mortgages, which soared after the mini-Budget, continues to drift slowly down, with five-year fixes breaching the 4.5% barrier this week and expected to drop below 4% in the new year. Come 2023, we could see five-year fixes priced below base rate.”

‘Impact on confidence to buy property’

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Such a substantial increase in base rate is alarming, particularly for its impact on confidence to buy property, which can compromise activity in the housing market.

“However, this rise has been expected for some time, with lenders already factoring it into pricing of fixed-rate mortgages.

“Indeed, brokers tell us that they don’t expect these to go any higher; if anything, they are likely to stay the same or continue falling slowly.”

‘Borrowers will feel that rate rises are coming thick and fast’

Tomer Aboody, the director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Although borrowers will feel that rate rises are coming thick and fast, hopefully this will succeed in getting double-digit inflation under control quicker.

“The Prime Minister and his team will then need to come up with some stimulus to turn up the economy and ensure the hurt isn’t long term.”

He added: “As rates rise and the cost-of-living increases, the negative impact on the housing market is inevitable.

“Given the importance of the housing market to the wider economy, the government needs to provide some form of assistance to stimulate the market. This could take the form of a restructure of stamp duty or some form of mortgage interest tax relief to alleviate some of the many stresses that borrowers will face in coming months.”‘

‘Another agonising squeeze for hard-pressed borrowers’

Sarah Coles, a senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s yet another agonising squeeze for hard-pressed borrowers.

“The Bank of England has ratcheted up the pressure with another 0.5 percentage point hike.

“It’s going to come as a horrible blow for borrowers who got used to rock bottom rates and haven’t seen anything like this for 14 years.

“To make matters worse, higher mortgage payments will come on top of all the other soaring costs – from food to fuel – and we have even more hikes looming on the horizon, with energy bills rising again in April. It raises the question of how much more squeezing we can take before we’re finally crushed.”


Landlords – what are your suggestions to better the current chaos in the PRS? Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property Investment News, Property News

Hello, Every landlord, big or small, must by now have felt the effects of repeated changes to legislation and taxation in regards to the PRS.

On any landlord forum you will find lists of landlords giving lists of what is wrong with the system, but I’ve yet to read anybody giving tangible solutions.

So, as a landlord, what are your suggestions to help fix this sh**storm that is the current PRS?

My starter for 1.) Government buys property from landlords who want to sell up at market price minus CGT and any refurb costs. Landlord pays no CGT on the sale, but have the option to refurb (if necessary) to a set habitable condition before sale. Tenants don’t lose their homes, landlords don’t lose money for selling with tenants “in situ”, more housing stock moves back to government ownership, and the revenues lost from the CGT are offset by local council not having to bear the longer-term costs of “rehoming” tenants in hotels/hostels who’ve been evicted by property sales.

2. (This one is bound to be contentious but hear me out)…
Make non-payment of rent a CRIMINAL offence. However altruistic we may wish to be, at the end of the day, in any other sector, if you take something (be it an object or a service) and don’t pay for it that would be classed as THEFT! Most long-term landlords will at some point have to deal with the a**e-tightening ordeal that comes when a tenant stops paying rent. While there will be some genuine cases where circumstances have contrived to put tenants in a desperate hole, in the majority of cases tenants stop paying rent because they know they can get away with it – with little or no comeback. If a tenant owns nothing, doesn’t work, and has no guarantor to answer to, then what do they have of value to lose apart from their liberty? If there is actually a serious consequence (other than 9 months rent-free and moving onto the next sucker) when rent goes into arrears, would this not be more incentive for tenants to pay and landlords not be forced to evict as a consequence? Aside from being fairer to the good tenants who now don’t face eviction (because their landlord has had enough and is selling up), a criminal conviction for rent arrears is a fair reason for automatic eviction (and also future reason for refusal to rent) that could easily be flagged up on a credit check without the costly expense of a “rogue tenant” database. This in turn saves landlords the expenses of s21/s8, and baliffs fees, saves court fees spent on the chancers and time-wasters, and frees up courts for geniune cases where there’s been a valid reason for non-payment.

3. In those cases where tenants believe they have a genuine case against disrepairs/a rogue landlord then rent should still be paid into a holding account with a tenancy dispute company (similar to the deposit companies) until the case is heard. Then if the case is found to be invalid the landlord gets his money due, or money can be taken from the accrued account to pay for necessary repairs etc. None of this unnecessary “rogue landlord” database b****cks, or “no win- no fee” ambulance-chasing lawyers that are springing up.

There’s bound to be holes in my arguments, but what else would you, as a landlord, suggest to make the system better?

Thank you,

Raz


The slightly unusual dilemma of a Croydon landlord Always Keep Smiling, Fun Stuff, Latest Articles, Question of the Week

This is our favourite and most popular ‘Readers Question’ to date, hence we re-bublish it from time to time.

Dear Mark (and all Property118 readers)

I think my wife might be having an affair with one of my tenants. The usual give away signs are all there, lots of “girlie nights out”, which she never used to do, and phone calls where the other person just hangs up when I answer the phone, mainly when I wouldn’t usually be at home. It’s been going on for months and I didn’t put two and two together until recently.

When I do 1471 the callers number has been withheld but the other day the callers number was there so I called it back and sure enough it was one of my tenants. He said he must have called my number by accident but soon after that my wife got a text and had to “pop out” because one of her work colleagues had apparently “lost her keys” and couldn’t lock up. I offered to take her but she insisted on going alone as her friend had told her she was having marriage problems so they might go for a drink afterwards for a girlie chat. The slightly unusual dilemma of a Croydon landlord

When she got home she said she was having another night out with the girls on Friday so I decided just to agree. My plan was to stake out my tenants property and she if she would turn up.

I remember my wife showing this tenant around the property when it became vacant and raving about how good looking he was. She also did the check in so I’ve never actually met him but I have spoken to him on the phone a few times.

Friday came and I decided to get a taxi from work and get dropped off around the corner from my tenants house so my wife had no chance of spotting my car if she did turn up. I decided to climb onto the garage roofs opposite my property, armed with my camera and telescopic lens where I could get a better view and a good shot. I laid on the roof for around an hour in the dark and cold, continually focussing my camera on my rental property so I could get the perfect shot for evidence purposes.

Whilst I was up there waiting I zoomed into the roof area and noticed that I have a few tiles missing and the guttering is coming away from the roof. My questions, therefore, is: does anybody know a good roofing contractor in the Croydon area?

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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

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.

 


Safety laws should be applied to ALL property owners Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property Investment News, Property Maintenance

Safety laws should be applied to ALL property owners

I am in favour of new regulations which could help to save lives but I don’t understand why only the lives of tenants seem to matter in the eyes of the law.

I don’t have gas at home but I do have electricity (yes even in mid Norfolk LOL) and I also have an electrical safety certificate dated just a few months ago for my own home. Safety laws should be applied to ALL property owners

If proposed new regulations for electrical testing in residential properties comes about then I hope they are imposed on all property owners and not just landlords.

Laws need to be applied equally.

If the lawmakers don’t care about the safety of children living with irresponsible parents who don’t get their homes checked for gas and now electricity then why do they care so much about tenants living in rental properties?

How many homeowners get an annual gas safety check?

Why shouldn’t owner occupiers be made legally responsible for protecting the lives of their children, neighbours, emergency services who try to rescue them when their house explodes in a ball of flames and of course their own lives?

What’s good for the goose ….

What are your thoughts?


Message from Anthony Wilson of Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP Ask Me Anything, Buy to Let News, Guest Articles, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Legal, Mortgage News, Property Investment News, Property News, The GOOD Landlords Campaign

Anthony Wilson of Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLPMy name is Tony Wilson.

I have today committed £15,000.00 to the fund to enable Mark Alexander and Mark Smith carry on the superb work they are doing on behalf of buy to let landlords who are being (in my view) mistreated by the West Bromwich Mortgage Company.

As a solicitor who has been in private practice for over 25 years and specialising in property throughout that time I am appalled at the way in which West Brom have sought to justify their unilateral action and I believe it is entirely correct that we should pursue a collective representative action in the way advised by Mark Smith which limits the financial risk to all concerned while giving us a voice to remedy this injustice.

I have done my due diligence before parting with any funds and I am fully satisfied that the route suggested by Mark Smith and Mark Alexander with funds protected within the Barco account gives us all maximum financial protection.

I also applaud Mark Alexander for leading this campaign.. which clearly deserves maximum public exposure.

This is not the first time over the last five years when I have been subject to a financial institution taking unilateral action despite the terms of a written agreement on the artificial basis “that it cannot afford it.” This type of action needs to continue to be challenged … the compensation payments having to be made by such institutions are increasing all the time now that the “chickens are coming home to roost”.

I urge everyone who has been affected by the West Broms behaviour to stand up and be counted .. to provide the financial resources to give us the maximum chance of securing a positive result and to ensure that the decision makers at the West Brom who have been arrogant to enough to make this decision unilaterally without first seeking judicial sanction..are accountable to their members for their inappropriate conduct.

I believe that we will win.. but win or lose this behaviour needs to be challenged.

Tony Wilson (Anthony Ashley Wilson)

Follow Up Comment

Thank to everyone for their positive comments about my post…. in a way I actually feel privileged to be part of it when I consider all the hard work and commitment which has been put into this to date by Mark and others..it is encouraging to know that the fund is heading in the right direction.. . if anyone has any doubts.. I am happy to discuss with them direct why I decided to participate.

Editors Note

To read the response comments from other campaign members please click HERE

To view Tony’s member profile please click HERE

To find out how to get involved please complete the form below

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

 


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.

Oops! We could not locate your form.

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


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

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

History to date

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

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

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

The OFT immediately passed their case over to the FCA.

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

The FOS are still prevaricating after 10 months!

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

Moving forward

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

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

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

Account Name: The Law Department Client Account

Account Number: 06658997

Sort Code: 12 24 82.

Reference: your full name

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

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

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

Proceeding to litigation

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

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

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

Secure Forum

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

To-Do List – 4 simple steps

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

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

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


4) Marketing

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

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


Campaigns Against Tracker Mortgage Rate Hikes Reach Parliament Latest Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear ……

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

SUBJECT – Conduct of Mortgage Lenders – EDM number 976 

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

Additional Notes

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

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

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

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

All comments via the main forums please.

Link to Bank of Ireland forum

Link to West Brom forum

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

REQUEST FOR HELP!

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

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


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Ever thought about blogging about property in your town? Latest Articles

Social Media is a great way to engage with people who think like you do and may even want to do business with you. It’s very different to advertising though. You wouldn’t walk into your local pub wearing a sandwich board and a megaphone advertising your business would you? However, if you get chatting to people and they ask for your business card there is a decent chance that you might end up doing business together. Social Media is much the same.

If you understand property in your area and you write about it then other people who are interested in property and your area are likely to follow your blog and to engage with you. They may also decide to do business with you if they like what you say. For example, a letting agent in Northampton might write about the properties he recently let, what the returns are like and some of the issues he’s managed to resolve on behalf of the landlords and tenants he works with.

You could of course start your own blog but who would find it?

That’s where blogging on Property118 makes sense.

Everything here is about property!

We have nearly 200,000 subscribers so you will never need to worry about whether people will read what you have to say.

What’s more, we have made it very easy to use so you don’t have to understand computer programming.

Best of all though, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny 🙂

Property118 is a very powerful website so if you were to set up your member name as let’s say “Northampton Property Blog” then people would easily be able to find you on Google if they were to search that phrase. To prove this point I set up a spoof blog called “Business Lawyers Norwich”. Try searching that phrase on Google and see what comes up 😉 You will find that it’s a joke profile of a solicitors firm which is run by Muppets and is called Nickett & Leggett Business Lawyers. Obviously they don’t really exist but the point is that the blog outranks all of the real Norwich business lawyers  in Google search results hahaha

The best ways to make your blog interesting and to get engagement is to have a short, snappy, interest grabbing title and to ask question of your readers.

Example title – “Huge Erection In neighbours back yard.” – you can see why people would read that can’t you? The blog could be about a dispute over the neighbours building a fence too high?

A question to ask on such an article might be – “what would you do about this problem?” or “have you ever come across an issue about this and if so how did you resolve it?”

It really is very easy and it can also be a lot of fun 🙂

When people leave comments on your blogs you will also receive an email notification. Ever thought about blogging about property in your town?

The starting point is to complete the form below. It needn’t cost you anything if you are not looking to get any business out of it. If you are looking for business then we also offer the online version of buying some business cards and helping you to distribute them, we call that business membership but we will tell you more about that when you’ve got started.

Oops! We could not locate your form.


Property Research Tool Latest Articles

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

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

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

Property Research generally begins online

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

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

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

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

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

Want to learn even more?

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

 

Landlords Buy to Let Property Investment Strategy


Property Research Tool Plugin Latest Articles

If you run a website or blog and would like to consider adding a free Property Research Tool Plugin then you are in the right place to test a great one 🙂

It’s not just for WordPress users

You can use the plugin on pretty much any website.

Whether you talk about property, sell it, rent it or advise people about it this Property Research Tool Plugin will look great on your website or blog.

You can use the embed code in sidebars, posts or pages and it will create a Call To Action button just like the one below, sized just how you want it and the modal screen which runs the functionality of the Property Research Tool will even be branded with your URL. Wordpress Property Research Tool Widget

Check out what we’ve done with it and then grab the embed code for use on your own WordPress website or blog with our compliments.

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

Comments via our main page please – see Property Research Tool


Is this UK’s Best Student Buy to Let? Latest Articles, Property For Sale

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With over 20% of the development sold out in the first 2 weeks, availability for the best units is becoming competitive, so contact us today if you are thinking of reserving a unit for your portfolio.

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The Property Ombudsman launches code of practice for Buying Agents Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, Property Sales & Sourcing

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is launching the Uk’s first Code of Practice specifically for the growing number of Buying Agents acting for consumers buying property in the UK.

The Property Ombudsman provides a free and impartial dispute resolution service for consumers and will be implementing The Buying Agent Code of Practice on 1st January 2014. The new Code has been designed to create a uniform set of standards for buying agents based in the UK to protect the interests of consumers and to promote best practice in the industry.

Property Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, said, “the Buying Agent Code of Practice is a milestone for the industry. More than 95 percent of residential sales agents have signed up to TPO’s Sales Code of Practice and we recognised that buying agents are a growing market sector in their own right.”

“Unlike sales agents, who are instructed by home owners during a property sale, buying agents act in the interest of buyers to search for and secure the best price on a property. However, both sales agents and buying agents are subject to the same property and consumer protection laws, which is something many consumers and agents are unaware of.”

“Consumers on both sides of a property transaction deserve the same levels of protection outlined in The Estate Agents Act 1979, and should be able to use a redress service to resolve disputes if they feel they have been treated unfairly.”

As the largest property ombudsman scheme in the UK, more than 22,000 sales and letting agents have registered with TPO.
Property commentator and professional buying agent, Henry Pryor, was one of several agents TPO consulted with to create the new Code of Practice.

Henry said, “there may be no record as yet of a formal complaint being made against a buying agent but it’s important that all those involved in the buying and selling, letting and renting process have access to a credible redress service. Members of the public who sensibly ask for help when buying what is often their most expensive single purchase can now see exactly what they can expect from their buying agent.”

The Code of practice covers contracts, fees, terms of business, advising clients, duty of care, conflicts of interest and transmitting offers among others. It has been written to cover every area of the process and to provide a comprehensive set of standards for Buying Agents.TPO_generic logo


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”.


Choosing a property location Latest Articles

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

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

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

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

Thanks

Paul


HMO Question – are basins in bedrooms mandatory? Latest Articles

Is it a legal requirement that every bedroom in a licensable HMO has to have a wash hand basin?

I have been jumping through hoops for a year to try and get a licence on a three storey 6-bed HMO. I had a letter from the council in 2011 saying that as I had three bathrooms and two separate WCs, all with wash hand basins, I didn’t have to put basins in the bedrooms, but would have to when I re-licensed in five years time. HMO - Bedrooms with basins mandatory?

I have now been given a draft of a licence to check which requires me to put basins in within two months.

Thanks

Edna

 


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