Tag Archives: readers question

The slightly unusual dilemma of a Croydon landlord Fun Stuff, Latest Articles, Question of the Week, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Re-published – first published on 21st October 2013

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 question, therefore, is does anybody know a good roofing contractor in the Croydon area?

Regards

LMAO


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

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

History to date

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

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

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

The OFT immediately passed their case over to the FCA.

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

The FOS are still prevaricating after 10 months!

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

Moving forward

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

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

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

Account Name: The Law Department Client Account

Account Number: 06658997

Sort Code: 12 24 82.

Reference: your full name

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

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

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

Proceeding to litigation

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

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

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

Secure Forum

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

To-Do List – 4 simple steps

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

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

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


4) Marketing

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

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


Campaigns Against Tracker Mortgage Rate Hikes Reach Parliament Latest Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear ……

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

SUBJECT – Conduct of Mortgage Lenders – EDM number 976 

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

Additional Notes

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

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

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

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

All comments via the main forums please.

Link to Bank of Ireland forum

Link to West Brom forum

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

REQUEST FOR HELP!

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

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

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


Council Tax Liability Order Imposed without my knowledge! Latest Articles

I’d like an opinion on how to proceed please with brief details as follows:

I rent out a property in Swindon, where following the departure of the tenants, the property stood empty for a month. I advised Swindon Borough Council of this in May by telephone and was advised that the Council Tax Account was “Closed”. I therefore thought nothing more about it.

In November, the new tenants (though in residence since end-June) handed me correspondence that was addressed to my company but addressed to the rental property. That correspondence comprised:

1. A letter demanding overdue payment of Council Tax.
2. A Court Summons for non-payment of Council Tax.
3. A Liability Order for Council Tax due plus award of Costs.

Having then spoken/written to Swindon Borough Council and explaining the situation plus emphasizing the fact that they had erroneously sent all correspondence to the wrong address, Swindon Borough Council simply re-issued the Liability Notice to my correct address.

I am obviously aggrieved that I can be summoned and ‘found guilty’ without my knowledge and that Swindon Borough Council still insist on including the Court Costs on an issue that I believe is due to their own ineptitude. They were provided with a correct address in May, yet did not update their records to reflect the content of my telephone call.

For expediency, I would pay the amount required on the Liability Order because I am being threatened with Bailiff action. However, do I have a case to take Swindon Borough Council to court (or Small Claims) to recover the court costs, which I believe to have been inappropriately imposed?

Interested to hear constructive views, thank you.

WolfieCouncil tax bill


Regulated buy to let – affordability check for tenants? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I own a property on a residential mortgage. I am in the process of acquiring another property on a residential mortgage and I am looking to convert my existing mortgage into a regulated buy to let so that my parents can live in my old house. Having done a bit of research it looks as if a regulated buy to let is our only option, given the family connection.

The situation is a little more complicated because my parents will be unable to meet the full cost of the open market rent for the property. Therefore, I plan to support them by paying part of each month’s rent myself. Regulated buy to let

Having not been through this process before, is anyone be able to tell me whether the lender will check rental affordability for my parents? I am worried that on paper the rental figure will not look affordable for them, and therefore if a check is carried out the mortgage may be refused.

As stated above, I plan to support them by paying part of each month’s rent myself and I am comfortable that this would be financially sustainable on an ongoing basis.

Any advice would be great.

Thanks in advance.

Jack


Please help me with my BTL dilemma Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

This is my first question and will not be the last so please treat me easy.

I am trying to venture into the BTL market. We have our home (mortgaged) and saving of about 20K. I playfully pressed buttons on my bank and I got 15K transferred to my account yesterday (we both have very good credit rating).

My Brother in law has turned up recently in this country and started working in the Milton Keynes area. He cannot buy a house yet so I am thinking about buying one and renting it to him. He is OK with this and is not expecting any freebies. He plans to stay here in this country for at least 3 years so I’ve got guaranteed rental income for 3 years.

I am looking for a property around 160K, I will press some buttons for my wife to get 15k more from the bank and put it as deposit to get mortgage, and let to my brother in law. Please help me with my BTL dilemma

Thoughts and worries:-

1. we live in Bristol (2.5 hours drive for the property visits.)
2. I am scared  of losing our current home in case all goes pear shape, I dont want sleepless nights
3. mywife but she thinks the money is safe when it is in the savings

I dont want great returns but if I get some it will be great for my kids uni in 10 years time.

Can I go ahead with this.

Please advise.

Thanks

Prakash


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

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

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

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

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

Thanks

Paul


HMO Question – are basins in bedrooms mandatory? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

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

 


Letting Agent won’t release rent (6 months paid in advance) Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

My tenants have paid 6 month rent in advance ( as they did in the previous 6 months with no problems) due to them being students.

The Letting Agent is dragging its feet and will not release the 6 months rent to my bank account stating the tenants have to sign a form allowing this to happen. Letting Agent won't release rent

Previously there was no mention of the tenants having to sign a form.

Tenants have been in my property since 18th October and I have not received any rent payment, I have had many conversations with staff at my letting agents and they keep fobbing me off.

I am unsure as to what to do next, what would you do?

Thanks

Michelle


HMO Internal locks ‘deal breaker’? Advice, Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I’m at the point of exchange on an HMO licensed 5 bed house, currently let to students. I received a letter from the mortgage lender Birmingham Midshires (BM Solutions) saying one of their conditions is that there are ‘no internal door locks’. I checked and there are thumb locks on all the bedrooms. The letting agent who manages the house asked the students about removing them, they refused. BM Solutions logo

I’ve heard stories about BM Solutions withdrawing the offer after exchange, and apparently there will be 5 days between exchange and completion. I can’t risk losing 20% of my deposit if they discover there are still internal locks. What should I do? Is this really a deal breaker?

Apparently it’s only 1 of the students that has a problem with the locks being removed, but as I don’t yet own the house I can’t speak to her directly and can’t change the contract, everything is dealt with by the letting agent.

Has anyone else come up against this one? Should I risk it and tell the mortgage lender that I did request the locks to be removed (if they ask)? Or should I actually pull out now before it’s too late?

Any advice much appreciated.

Regards

Duncan


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