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

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

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

Latest media coverage in which our campaigns are named/linked

BBC Website

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

The Telegraph


Guild of Residential Landlords

What Sam Saw Today – part One

What Sam Saw Today – part Two

House Selling Advice

Chesterfield Post

Tracker Rate Class Actions Updates

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

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

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

West Bromwich BS Class Action Update

The reasons we started this campaign are very simple:-

1) We believe the actions of West Brom are immoral

2) We believe the actions of West Brom are unlawful, i.e. they have no legal grounds to increase their tracker rate margins

3) We have no wish to subsidise other areas of the West Bromwich Building Society business model

4) We are fearful of other lenders following suit if West Brom are allowed to get away with this

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

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

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

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

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

We will NOT settle on any basis.

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

We have a moral duty to do what is right for those who support the values upon which we started this campaign in the first place. Our promise to all who support these values is that we will not sell out on you at any price. We will continue to fight this injustice and we will fight any other lender who tries to follow suit.

Who’s with me?

West Bromwich Legal Action So Far

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

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

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

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

Bank of Ireland Class Action Update

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

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

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

In both cases

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

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

The Marketing Fund

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

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

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

Facebook Marketing

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

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

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

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

All comments via the main discussion threads please.

Bank of Ireland

West Bromwich Building Society

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Firefox is landlords favourite browser Latest Articles

Firefox is landlords favourite browser

40% of landlords visiting Property118 use Firefox as their favourite browser according to our analytics.

I was quite surprised at this as I’m a massive fan of Google Chrome but only 9.9% of our visitors seem to agree.

In second place was Internet Explorer and to be honest I thought that would come up number one as it was the default for most Windows based computers for several years.

3.8% of our readers are now using iPads and a further 5.7% are using the Safari browser via other devices such as iPhone etc. Continue reading Firefox is landlords favourite browser

Oven Cleaning is one of the biggest issues in a rented property Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

ovenOven cleaning is one of the biggest issues and this article is to help Landlords present this particular item in their property in its best condition for an inventory inspection and help tenants bring an oven back to its initial clean state when leaving the accommodation.

Let’s put it into perspective, the cleanliness of a property makes up 51% of tenancy deposit disputes and some of which can be attributed to people forgetting or missing an item to be cleaned, another is that differing people have differing ideas of what is clean. Let me give you an idea how we all think the same but differently.

Picture a cat in your head,
How big is it?
What is it doing?
What colour is it?

While we have all just seen a cat in our minds eye, some cats will be small, medium, large. It might be sleeping, sitting, jumping around and any colour you want. Nevertheless, it is still a cat. The same is true for cleaning, someone might have actually worked very hard to clean a property but yet it is not you to your high standard. Maybe they just don’t know how to do the task correctly and yes some are just simply too lazy to do it. It is a rare situation that we know which of these statements is true for a given household and it might be a combination of all of these factors.

There is a continuum for the level of cleanliness form: never been cleaned, attempted but still dirty, cleaned to an average household standard up to what we call in the inventory profession “cleaned to a high domestic standard” and “cleaned to a professional standard” the best of course being a professional clean.

Here is a list of key phrases I use when describing the cleanliness of an oven from best to worst:
1. As New
2. Cleaned to a professional standard
3. Cleaned to a high domestic standard
4. Clean to a domestic standard
5. Partly cleaned
6. Needs finished clean
7. Not clean.

I must add that fortunately, most inspection I do I only have to decide if the cooker/oven has been cleaned to a domestic or professional standard.

If you look at the picture below, this is an oven an oven cleaned to a high standard but its condition is excluded from our discussion on cleaning. This is a worn oven and unless you have prior information, to this picture, it is not possible to say if this is through damage or due to age and fair wear and tear.


This oven is clean but through age and use, it is marked and even rusted at the sides.

Then we have the oven that is clean to a high domestic standard that is to say it is grease free but there are still baked on marks.


You should also watch out for chemical residue, many of the excellent oven cleaning products on the market leave residue marks on surfaces if you don’t wash off the product fully, which technically means the oven is still partially dirty, need a finish clean.

There are several very good cleaning products on the market. But there is one that I prefer to use it gets the job done and is fairly easy to use and normally takes a clean to domestic standard to a professional clean level. It is a strong chemical so you have to be careful and follow the manufactures instructions it is “Oven Pride”. Please note that I don’t have shares in the company and I am not getting any benefit for mentioning this product my motivation for mentioning it is to   help anyone who reads this article in particular Landlords and Tenants.

About the author of this Post

Sydney Lewis A+ Inventories

Syd Lewis has been a private landlord for over 20 years, he is an accredited member of the National Landlords Association (NLA), Residential Landlords Association (RLA), Sponsor of the Good Landlords Campaign, a full member of the Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP) and a Certified Electrical Portable Appliance Tester (NIPIT). He is passionate about what he does which is providing residential inventory services, PAT testing and marketing floor plans for Agents, Landlords and Tenants. Inventories start from £56.00 to find out more see:-

Perfect tenant of 6 years turns heroin addicted prostitute – EVICTED! Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

I first let to these tenants in 2003. They already had a daughter and later gave birth to a second. She was an accountant, I forget now what he did. They were model tenants but in 2008 I received a call to tell me that he’d left her for another woman. These things happen and as she had been such a wonderful tenant I had no issues whatsoever in granting a new tenancy in her name, no guarantor! Seriously, would you ask for a guarantor under these circumstances?

A few months went by without problems but then a rent payment was missed. I followed my procedures and wasn’t too concerned at first. After three weeks I called her at work and I was told she was off sick. I eventually tracked her down at home and she explained she’d been off for a few months and was really sorry about the rent. Apparently the stress of the separation was getting to her. Under the circumstances I agreed that she could miss another months rent payment (due at the end of the following week) and then catch up over the next 12 months when she get’s back to work. She didn’t go back though, not for long anyway, she’d hit the bottle and got fired for being drunk at work. I tried to help her but she ignored my calls and left me with no choice other than to serve a section 21 notice giving her two months to vacate. She was already four months in arrears so I could have served a section 8 giving her two weeks notice but I guess I’m just a softie. She’d been a good tenant for years so two months notice wasn’t too bad and I thought she’d get better and being an accountant she wouldn’t want debts hanging over her. I was wrong 🙁

No rent was paid and the notice period had expired but she was still there. I’d never been in this position before. What would I do? At this point I also found out that the children had been taken into care. This was getting nasty.

It turns out that she had also got into drugs, heroin to be exact, and was funding her habit through prostitution.

To cut a long story short we had to go all the way through the court process. It was my first time. It was only on the third attempt that the baliffs actually managed to get her out of the property. There were a ton of excuses for the first two times which I will not go into.

She knew she was going to be evicted and had completely trashed the property. My suspicion is that she got all the local druggies to collect all the bin bags off the estate and tip the rubbish in the house. The stench was over-whelming, three of the clean up team literally threw up, one refused to go back into the house. 23 skips were filled in all and I was down 18 months on rent. OK, I might have got away with a few less if I’d have been a bit tougher but seriously, would you have done anything different than I did as these events unfolded?

I learned two lessons from this:-

  1. You can never be 100% sure about any tenant
  2. You need a rainy day fund as you never know when a scenario like this could befall you. I’d been a landlord for 17 years and owned a massive portfolio before this happened to me but it could just as easily have been my first tenant in my first property.
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My BuyToLet Portfolio “Vintage 2003” – part 8 of my latest series Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Personal Development & Motivation, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

My vintage year was 2003. I was followed for 24 hours by a camera crew to make a TV program about young entrepreneurs. By then I had 100 people working for me selling buy to let mortgages and turnover from mortgage sales was £7 million a year. In 2003 I also purchased my first built to order super-car, a Ferrari 360 Spider. I visited the worlds best hotel and had a suite with a butler at the Burj al-Arab in Dubai. In 2003 my property portfolio made me an extra £1 million in 2003 without lifting a finger. It was a bitter sweet year though as I also lost one of my dearest friends in a car crash at the end of 2002. My friend David was one of the first people to start working with us, he lived with my wife and I for three days every other week and the same with my business partner on the alternate weeks for several years. That all started whilst he was going through a messy divorce. He continued commuting between Norwich and Halifax for work even after getting re-married until the saddest day of my life. I received a call telling me that David’s his car had left the road and flipped several times killing him instantly. He’d left our office only a few hours before and was on the way home to see his new wife and new born baby. It was that which changed my outlook on life forever and was also the reason I started to enjoy my wealth. We never know how long we’ve got left. As they say, there are no rehearsals in life. Continue reading My BuyToLet Portfolio “Vintage 2003” – part 8 of my latest series

Landlords, Tenants, Dogs, Pets Buy to Let News, Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

“Landlords, Tenants, Dogs, Pets” is part 7 of my latest series of articles entitled “My first intentional property investment

Ever since I was a kid I loved dogs, I didn’t even mind the ones that used to snap at my fingers and try to break the door down to rip me to pieces when I had a paper round in my youth. In fact, I found the prospect of taunting them a bit of fun, probably because we had dogs ourselves. I had the MacDaddy of all dogs, a huge long haired German Sheppard called Zak who used to take me for walks. Continue reading Landlords, Tenants, Dogs, Pets

When tenants ask how much is the Council Tax Guest Articles, Guest Columns, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment News, Property Market News, Property News, Tax & Accountancy, Tax and Accountancy, Tax News

Council Tax can be a deciding factor to some tenants. When you rent out a property, tenants often ask what the council tax band is. They also want to know much they will have to pay.

There can be a big difference between say a Band A, or Band D property.

There are a couple of useful tools that you can use to quickly find out what the Council tax be will be; Continue reading When tenants ask how much is the Council Tax

My first intentional property investment part 5 Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

By 1999 I had realised that I needed to put money aside for maintenance. Tenants were moving in and out all the time and I was bleeding money on carpet cleaning, magnolia paint and replacement carpets at an unbelievable rate. I’d started investing into bigger houses and renting them to people with children and groups of professionals so the wear and tear was much higher. Remember, I’d also been furnishing my properties with cream carpets. When they got shabby it was difficult to find new tenants without replacing the carpets. Continue reading My first intentional property investment part 5

Property Management Checklist Cautionary Tales, Landlord News, landlord's log, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Lettings & Management, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

My first intentional property investment part 4 – “My first Property Management Checklist

In the last instalment of the story of my first intentional property investment I promised to share with you the first property management check list I put together, it wasn’t perfect but it was a lot better than nothing. If you want to catch up on the other stories in this series please see my Landlords Log.

OK, here goes with my first property management checklist:- Continue reading Property Management Checklist

My first intentional property investment part 3 Landlord News, Landlords Stories, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, Property News

Just two years after buying my first intentional property investment I owned 9 more. Buying that first one was like finding a magic lantern for my buy to let mortgage business. The Genie that popped out to grant me my wish gave me the confidence I needed to share with other prospective landlords how I got into the business and how I had overcome my nagging doubts. I was still relatively wet behind the ears but I knew more than most, especially the newbies who were starting to get interested in this new “buy to let” phenomenon. You see, when I purchased my little flat nobody had heard of the phrase “buy to let” as it hadn’t been invented. When ARLA created that phrase in late 1996 the media really grasped onto it and buy to let was in pretty much every newspaper every day. Continue reading My first intentional property investment part 3

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