The Latest Scam – Landlords Are The New Target

by Readers Question

11:52 AM, 8th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

The Latest Scam – Landlords Are The New Target

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The Latest Scam – Landlords Are The New Target

Do you remember law firms offering to claim PPI as no win, no fee? Well, I’m sorry to have to say that landlords are the latest group that the ambulance chasers have set their sights on. I speak from personal experience. Let me tell you what happened, in the hope that others don’t get intimidated into needlessly parting with hard-earned cash.

A letter arrived from a law firm, located in the well-heeled town of Knutsford, Cheshire. Badly constructed, it gave little detail of the tenancy to which it referred. Having noted the allegation of my failure to legally protect a tenants deposit, it went on to explain how court action would follow and that I could expect some very serious repercussions. Reading on, the letter offered an olive branch. Through mediation, court action could be avoided by providing financial restitution to the as-yet unnamed tenant.

It was clearly a scam, all my deposits are legally protected in a prescribed scheme, so fear wasn’t my motivation for sending a reply. Simply put, I hate scammers, especially those in a position we are encouraged to trust.

After some communication, I discovered the tenants address, so could deduce whom I was being threatened by. Contact with the tenant revealed that this action was the result of a cold call. They had issues with the site management company, so asked the law firm to intervene. A series of questions, unrelated to their issues ensued, which they diligently answered, inaccurately as it happens.

Needless to say, the management company were never contacted and at my request, the tenants asked the law firm to cease any action. But this behaviour, without due diligence on the part of a law firm is diabolical, and surely not compliant with the code of practice, as set out by the regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority?

Having had email conversations with the said authority, it stated that the law firm broke no code of practice and therefore no action will be taken against them. That surprised me too! Apparently, the accused has no rights of protection from such threats. Even if untrue, and without any checks being made prior to an accusation being made.

I write this article in the hope that decent landlords, that may not have my experience, will not be afraid to challenge such practices. It’s highly possible that a less confident and smaller portfolio landlord than myself, could be hoodwinked into thinking they have not followed the rules. This could easily lead to payments that are completely unnecessary., or worse still, wasted court time that our judicial system is does not have the luxury of entertaining. Our courts are clogged up enough without this.

I’d encourage everyone to spread the word. Do not accept the allegations of these unscrupulous law firms. If challenged on a regular basis, these firms will eventually get the message, the PRS is not the pushover they think we are.

Phil


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Comments

Paul Shears

1:18 AM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

“surely not compliant with the code of practice, as set out by the regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority?
Having had email conversations with the said authority, it stated that the law firm broke no code of practice and therefore no action will be taken against them.”

My own painful and very protracted experience with legal representation authorities was that they are more incompetent than the worst of solicitors.
There appears to be a structural conflict of interest in that they get a fee from the legal firm for the right to practice.
They get nothing from the victim.
My own experience was that, like yourself, I beat the fraudulent solicitor back and won my case.
The fact is that it simply was not even remotely worth it!
It would have made far more sense to have taken the loss!

TrevL

7:58 AM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

It not surprising really, you can see by some of the posts in here, such as this one https://www.property118.com/he-simply-wants-to-keep-it-because-hes-paid-for-it/ that there are plenty of landlords that don't fully appreciate the legal implications of their actions and try and short cut tenants rights. Particularly true in the current environment. The law firms will just figure there are plenty of easy targets out there if they test enough strained lettings relationships.

The tradegy are where decent landlords are targeted that have to expend time and money vindicating themselves...

terry sullivan

11:07 AM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

sra is useless--solicitors always right

David Price

11:32 AM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

SRA will only allow complaints against your own solicitor, not against a solicitor who is making false accusations, no matter how outrageous they are.

Lindsay Keith

12:01 PM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 09/10/2020 - 11:07
I beg to differ albeit only in part. Granted, I retired some years ago but I doubt much has changed in that occupier of expensive offices. Useless, yes in the main, but some of their people were exemplary when I was in practice as a defender.
However, having appeared in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (known as the SDT) on behalf of accused solicitors (some extremely guilty, some foolish, deluded or hapless but some very innocent), their apparent attitude at that time seemed to be to believe the complaining client, make life difficult for the solicitor, don't let the facts get in the way of a tidy persecution. Never allow common sense to intrude. As in so many organisations, it depends on whom you get to deal with. An alarming number of the SRA's staff have little or no experience of live practice, let alone difficult clients. Sadly, my perception was of a general mental laziness and competence akin to the Church of England.
What I would suggest is that you look carefully at the letterhead of whichever solicitors write to you. Where from? Bandit Country aka Merseyside/North West whence fraudulent insurance usually motor claims came in abundance? Trawl the Law Society's website (https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/) and research who they are, what competences are claimed etc. Ask around, build a case before complaining if worth your (chargeable but probably irrecoverable) time. Complain in writing, I suggest by letter and ask for an acknowledgment.
I totally agree, these ambulance chasers are a pest. Like the fly on Joe Biden's forehead, I fear they will always be with us.

NewYorkie

12:26 PM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

The SRA behaves the same as other representative bodies e.g. RICS, ICAEW... by going to great lengths to avoid responsibility for taking action against its members. I've dealt with complaints to RICS and ICAEW and won't waste my time again. Their people are incompetent and lazy. You could take one from the SRA and move him to RICS, and not know the difference!

https://corruptionuk.org/solicitors-regulation-authority-in-33m-cover-up/

Chris @ Possession Friend

13:58 PM, 9th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by NewYorkie at 09/10/2020 - 12:26
yep NewYorkie, they're less than useless.
( Do a far better job of protecting their members than some Landlord Association I could mention though ! )

The Secret Landlord

8:45 AM, 10th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

You don't need to have a valid claim to make a claim.

I have been the subject of spurious legal action over the years. Unfortunately, there will always be chancers and so you have to have your wits about you. I am a bore when it comes to detail and paperwork, but they are your best friends when it comes to any alleged wrong-doing. Legal expenses insurance is also key, along with being a member of a landlord association to seek guidance.

In this business you always need to be match fit.

NewYorkie

13:17 PM, 10th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by The Secret Landlord at 10/10/2020 - 08:45I agree. Detail, paperwork, research... may be tedious and time-consuming, but when you are one-man band, it pays to have all the facts readily to hand.

Lindsay Keith

13:23 PM, 10th October 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by NewYorkie at 09/10/2020 - 12:26
That may be your experience but, as a practitioner in the SDT, I can only say they seemed on occasion to be vindictive and senseless. I never dealt with the RICS or the ICAEW, so cannot challenge your final sentence!

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