Tag Archives: survey

Retaliatory eviction – possibility of civil litigation? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

We’re a professional couple with a limited company which provides a technology solution to the NHS. It suits our circumstances to rent at this moment in time. Retaliatory eviction

We had a 4-year rental of a lovely apartment until last Summer, when the owner decided to downsize and move back into the property. It was a good relationship, we had treated the property as if it had been our own investment and we parted as friends – with our deposit paid back in full.

After much searching we found a 3-bed town house which appeared to offer us everything we needed. The letting agent was a member of NAEA/ARLA and appeared to be respectable. There were some agreed remedial works to be dealt with and we were given assurances that these would be attended to in due course. We moved into the property in late August 2012.

Sadly, by the beginning of November, it was apparent that the property had some significant problems. There was extensive water penetration upstairs and a rising damp problem to the ground floor. The letting agent was informed immediately, with photographic evidence and a request for urgent assistance. We moved our furniture from the 3rd bedroom.

A ‘trades-person’ appeared in due course, with a notepad and pencil but with no damp meter. A report was promised, but was not forthcoming. The letting agent promised to send another contractor. This one only worked weekends and couldn’t agree a time to call; that visit never took place.

I called the landlords contractor to arrange the remedial work to be completed – missing doors, exposed wires, etc. He visited early November, measured up, made notes, promised to return – but failed.

We spent the most horrendous Christmas and New Year in the house. There was serious damp penetration, black mould which was constantly being removed. Slugs were climbing the walls. The house was very cold and the more that we heated it – the worse the damp became. We telephoned, wrote, sent photographs, yet the letting agent did nothing; there were plenty of replies – unbelievably stating that they were attempting to do everything as quickly as possible. We initially resigned ourselves to getting out of the house at the end of our AST.

In early-February, I wrote the strongest letter to letting agent with photos. A survey was made by Peter Cox, a pretty damning report which agreed with our complaint – serious damp and rain penetration. I wrote again, asking for compensation and a reduction in rent. This was refused. The letting agent had said that the landlord was absent; it transpired this wasn’t the case.

We tracked the landlord down and demanded a meeting. The landlord appeared, agreed with us in full and said that it was the first he knew of the problem. He agreed that we should be compensated and that this was the letting agents responsibility. Our landlord sat in our home, apologising and promised us both that this would be resolved. He remarked how clean we kept the property. The next day he had changed his mind and said that our grievance was with the letting agent. The following day – the EHO (Environmental Health Officer) inspected. That week, the missing doors and exposed electrics were attended to. We sent 2 requests to the letting agent, for the landlords address – these were refused.

A week later we received a section 21 notice to quit. The landlords address was given as c/o a family member in the South – presumably to thwart a legal action by us.

It turned out that the landlord had known of the problems. He’d applied for a grant for roof insulation, in my name – without my knowledge – and prior to our first meeting. It transpired that the letting agents were not members of ARLA or NAEA and we contacted both organisations and Rightmove to get these false affiliations removed. The letting agent claimed an oversight.

We spoke with our MP who has written to the CEO of the local authority, in order to push the EHO. The EHO wrote to the letting agent and the landlord but there was no response. We then began to receive threats from the letting agent to enter the property to inspect and allow viewings; we made a formal complaint to the Police and this is logged with a fast-track number in the event that they continue. We threatened to change the locks and the letting agent replied that this was not necessary.

We defended the section 21 notice on the grounds of incorrect dates and continued to pay the rent. We were not going to be forced out and subjected to costs or inconvenience due to their incompetence. The weather had improved and the house was drying out for the summer and we would tough it out now – having gone through the worst. We have since redecorated all damp affected walls as it is unnecessary to be reminded every day.

Our MP has pushed for resolution; this has mustered a stronger letter from the EHO. There has been no response other than a second section 21 notice. The dates are once again incorrect. The letting agent has put our deposit into a DPS but did not provide the Deposit Protection Certificate or prescribed information until we requested it after five months of tenancy. The prescribed information appears to be incomplete. I doubt that any s21 is valid until deposit is returned and the landlord might be liable for 3x under the Localism Act? Our claim should also be for a reduction in rent back-dated to 11/2012 and should provide compensation for immense stress and upset – particularly to my wife – for the repeated inconvenience, small damage, etc.

We’ve spoken with experts in Landlord/Tenant issues, they’ve seen our file which is very complete and have passed it onto Barristers to evaluate. We have a strong case apparently, but would incur costs of circa £7k to seek compensation/enforcement of duty to repair; we’ve been told that there is little likelihood of being awarded costs – if successful. That’s an expensive ‘point of principle’ for us.

It seems a dreadful situation. We actually like the house and the worst of the problems could be so easily resolved. We must now consider vacating the property before the bad weather sets in again – to remain longer would weaken any case against the landlord and the letting agent. The landlord is inexperienced and his conduct and concern for our welfare has been quite despicable. The promises that he made to my wife and I were instantly forgotten and we would like to do whatever might be done, so that he is taught the lesson.

Please accept our apologies for the long post, is there anything that we could do, other than what the landlord and letting agent expects – that being to vacate and walk away? I feel that someone needs to make a stand here, to create some solid case law if necessary – to protect others faced with similar problems in the future.

Thanks in advance

Roy and Tania


Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

WARNING – this article might make you want to cry, it might make you want to laugh and it will probably make you angry, and for many different reasons depending on who you are. Licensing - Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

This is one of those articles which I would like to be read by every landlord, every letting agent, every tenant and especially every Politician.

I would also like every person who reads this article to leave a comment, share it and help turn it into a HUGE debate.

So what is it all about?

My friend Mary Latham recently wrote a book about the storm she see’s brewing which is heading towards the Private Rented Sector with potentially catastrophic consequences. One of the chapters in Mary’s book is called “Raising Standards or Raising funds”.

There have been many discussions about the effectiveness of licensing which is being introduced into the PRS in it’s various forms and on many occasions, landlords have concluded that licencing has very little to do with raising standards and more to do with Local Authorities raising funds to create “jobs for the boys”

Well you may be pleased to hear that the DCLG have asked Local Authorities to complete a survey about licencing. Have they read Mary’s book one wonders?

When I heard about the survey, intrigue and curiosity got the better of me – what questions were the DCLG asking?

To my surprise,  I managed to get hold of a link to the survey questionnaire, DCLG had used ‘open source’ software for their survey. Being the curious type I obviously felt compelled to take a look, fully expecting to be met with a security screen where I would have to enter a User Name and Password to get any further. I’d have given up at that point as there’s no way I would attempt to hack a Government website. To my surprise though, there was no security! They were using Survey Monkey and that awoke the little monkey in me.

To see the questions being asked I needed to complete the page I was looking at to get to the next set of questions, so I began to fill it in. This is the point at which my curiosity transformed into mischief as I was having a lot of fun with my answers 😉

Here was my opportunity to tell the DCLG what I really think about landlord licencing in the most cynical and mischievous way possible. What an opportunity!

Now before you think about attacking me with some “holier than though” type comments, please remember the DCLG are responsible for the drafting of all of the legislation which has caused the PRS so much grief. Anyhow, enough said on that, it’s done now.

I took screen shots of every page I completed and I have put them together in a slideshow below.

Do take a look and whether you laugh or cry and for whatever reason you get angry, please post a comment or join in the discussion below this article 😉

If I mysteriously disappear, you might just find me at the Tower of London LOL

I hope you will appreciate the irony of my answers!

[thethe-image-slider name=”Raising Funds or Raising Standards”]

Note for tenants – More licensing = higher rents!


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

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

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

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

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

The combined results will be present to DCLG.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think that you may find this helpful too.


Client Money Protection cover now available to all Agents Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has pushed on behalf of the Lettings industry to make Client Money Protection cover (CMP) available to all UK lettings agents.

Up until this month, CMP cover was only available through a number of trade bodies. The introduction of two new CMP providers this month will enable letting agents that are not registered with a trade body to sign up for cover.

Gerry Fitzjohn, Chief Operating Officer of TPO said:

‘We need an even playing field for lettings. All agents are required to hold client money in a separate Clients Account but there is no current requirement to have those funds insured against unlawful use or fraud, which is why CMP is crucial for landlords and tenants.

‘CMP is not a duplication of any deposit scheme or professional indemnity cover. It goes beyond that and provides landlord with the peace of mind they need to know that the rent collected by an agent is protected.

‘This isn’t ‘news’ to the thousands of experienced agents that have had comprehensive CMP cover with a trade body for many years and we fully support the ongoing efforts of trade bodies such as ARLA, NALS, RICS and UKALA to improve industry best practice. The new CMP products launched this month by PSR Insurance brokers and Hamilton Fraser Insurance Brokers mean CMP cover is now available to the whole of the market, which can only be a good thing.’

It is estimated that some £23 billion is paid annually in rent, of which £6 – £10 billion is collected by agents on behalf of landlords1.

Press reports over recent months have highlighted a number of cases where landlords or tenant have not been able to recover funds due to them, which were held by agents.

TPO has surveyed 8,000 lettings branches2 to assess the viewpoints of member agents registered with the TPO scheme. The results revealed an overwhelming number of agents backed CMP, with 80% already protected.

Mr Fitzjohn added:

‘We passionately believe that CMP is great for consumer protection and will ultimately result in a reduction in the number of complaints against lettings agents. We know from surveying our own agents that the vast majority already have cover. For those that don’t, they now have an opportunity to distinguish themselves from any rogue operators by showing landlords and tenants that they have the appropriate cover in place.

‘My personal viewpoint would be to question why a letting agent would not support CMP. In the absence of any regulation for the UK private rental market, agents themselves need to take proactive steps to show landlords and tenants that they have taken out the necessary cover to protect rental income.

‘We now need the industry to unite to raise awareness of this issue so consumers understand the value of CMP and we will be writing to each of our TPO registered offices this month to publicise our support.’TPO_generic logo


Rightmove doubles 2013 forecast for house prices Latest Articles, Property Market News, Property News

Rightmove doubles 2013 forecast for house prices as it reports ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ fueling a predicted 4.8% annual growth.

There have been seven monthly rises on the trot and two consecutive record months as the price of newly marketed property increases by 0.3% (+£860) in July boosting year-on-year growth to 4.8% (+£11,561)

Rightmove’s 2013 forecast has been increased from 2% to 4% as latest increases fuel recovery of the housing market.

There are signs finally of a broader-based recovery with all regions up year-on-year for the first time in nearly three years contributing to the positive national picture. Confidence in the market is said to be on the up with the proportion of people expecting average prices to be higher a year from now doubling compared to this time last year, now at 62% from 31%.

Rightmove reports an increase in movers and predicts more to come as property transactions are already up 5% year-to-date and lead indicators suggest more in the pipeline. Email enquiries to agents and developers are up 18% on 2012, new sellers up 5%, mortgage approvals up 6%.

It has already been reported that Surveyors are struggling to cope with the increase in demand with waiting lists for surveys pushing up into weeks. This is however also due to the number of Surveyors who have left the market since the Credit Crunch.

Rightmove along with many financial analysts predict a positive borrowing window as markets do not expect a base rate rise for three years. Funding for Lending competition is easing rates and availability of finance, plus the ‘brick-shortage success’ of Help to Buy!


Fair wear and tear? Landlord needs advice on dispute with Housing Association Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I entered a contract with Sheppards Bush Housing Association “SBHA” for three years at agreed rent of £310 per week.

They knew I was going aboard.

I checked with Ealing Council and they confirmed that the rent for my property would be £310.

I borrowed money to do a lot of work that they required on the property. They promised monthly visits and given I used to work in Homeless Person Unit “HPU” for Ealing Council I knew this to be important.

In October 2009 I signed the contract and returned it to SBHA. I received a confirmation offer letter in October 2009.

I handed the property over in early November 2009 and left the country on the 19th November.

In December SBHA wrote to me saying that they had to reduce the rent as Ealing Council would not pay £310 per week. I checked with the council and they told me if I went with them they would pay £310 but I was in a remote part of India and I needed my loans and mortgage covered, so I agreed under pressure to accept the new rent of £250 per week.

There were no monthly visits and two years into the contract the tenant complained of excess mould in the flat. I sent in a surveyor to have a look and he found a leak under the bath that had been going on for some time, he said about six months. It caused extensive damage. Repairs cost me over £1,500 and I am not sure of the long term damage.

My insurance did not cover me as I could not prove when the leak started. The tenant said the floor in the bathroom did turn black but she thought nothing of it. Monthly checks would have found this.

When the tenant left the property I was presented with a flat needing over £5,000 worth of repairs.

The tenant had not cleaned the flat and there was excessive scale on the tiles in the bathroom. The wooden floor in the kitchen had come up in places around the fridge. The tenant did not report this as a repair and threw away the wooden blocks so that it could not be repaired. The bathroom panel was rotten due to water flowing over it from the shower and so on. The tenant had removed the carpets in the living room. She had replaced the vinyl in the bathroom but not sealed it in etc. etc. etc.

The basis of the agreement with SBHA was that any tenant damage would be paid for, that was their reason for not offering a deposit. However, repairs are my responsibility.

Because of the reduction in rent I did not have the money to pay for the repairs and they threatened me with a rent stop. If they stopped the rent I would have defaulted on my mortgage and loans. Rather then having money saved up which I would have had under the original agreement I struggled. I had to fly back from China and do the works myself. After many letters they have now decided that they will look at my case again.

Were does one stand in a case like this were one side says damage and the other says fair wear and tear?

Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

David Evans

 

Fair wear and tear?


Neil Gammie of Birmingham GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors

The GOOD Landlords CampaignNeil Gammie of Birmingham

I’ve been a professional landlord building a portfolio of properties in the Edgbaston area of Birmiingham since 1986.

I handle all aspects of my business except finding/vetting tenants which I leave to a couple of trusted local lettings agents. I try to keep abreast of legislation and the increasingly perverse number of recent court cases which we are all trying to get our heads around.

I rent out a variety of properties and my attitude is not that of landlord – a word which I loathe – and tenant but of somebody supplying a service for which I am paid. My customers tend to stay in my properties and I have few voids. I am a member of NLA and RLA and also company secretary for four freehold companies owning blocks of flats, 3 in Birmingham and 1 in Devon.

Two years ago I suffered major fire damage to a property and was left battered and bruised by the whole restitution process which was an absolute nightmare. I was shafted by my insurance company, the loss adjustor, the company appointed to carry out the refurbishment works and the surveyor who had his own agenda. I learnt a lot. If you are about to make a major claim get in touch with me first on my email address below.

Continue reading Neil Gammie of Birmingham


Bill Loryman of HMOTAX Ltd Northampton GOOD Landlords Campaign Sponsors

The GOOD Landlords CampaignBill Loryman of HMOTAX Ltd Northampton

I am not a landlord, however I do want to support The GOOD Landlords Campaign and welcome the opportunity to network with members.

All business property owners including HMO’s, multi-lets and holiday lets are entitled to claim the Capital Allowances that are in the fabric of every commercial property. They were established in law in 1897 and are a legitimate part of tax planning. A properly prepared claim, backed up by our surveyors report can give you worthwhile tax savings and future mitigation of tax relief.

We are here to help you and have a 100% success record with submitting Capital Allowance claims to HMRC.

Continue reading Bill Loryman of HMOTAX Ltd Northampton


Dont panic, woodworm wont make your house fall down Latest Articles

woodworm wont make your house fall downHave you ever wondered why old wood worm holes are often visible in floor boards  yet there is no history of treatment? Probably not but I will tell you anyway. Woodworm (of which there are many forms from common furniture to the dreaded deathwatch beetle) eventually dies off when the wood dries and provided the building is appropriately maintained, there is no reason why any widespread infestation should recur.  Of course, areas that are potentially in contact with dampness could remain at risk and these can be addressed by eliminating the source of moisture. In some instances it is impossible to do so entirely, for example where timbers are embedded into the walls. Continue reading Dont panic, woodworm wont make your house fall down


Landlords: how to counter tenants’ complaints about damp Latest Articles

Complaint about dampHow often have you had a tenant complain about damp patches or mould? You may even have had builders or specialists in to fix the problem, only to find that the come back again.

Unless you have worked out exactly what is causing the dampness and mould  in the first place, than all a builder can really do is mask the problem for a few weeks or months – it will come back. Yet damp problems can often be resolved completely by taking very simple steps, without the need to pay for major works –often just opening a window will suffice, if you’ve been able to trace the problem to condensation.
Continue reading Landlords: how to counter tenants’ complaints about damp


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