Thousands of renters in England are living in unsafe homes, according to new research

According to new research, hundreds of thousands of renters in England are living in damp, rotten and unsafe homes.

According to Citizens Advice, although a third of landlords find it hard to keep up with changing rules and regulations, they don’t know their legal obligations.

Citizens Advice is calling for a single national body to set standards for the private renting sector.

Gillian Guy, from Citizens Advice, said, “Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with potentially fatal flaws.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.

“The government must establish a national housing body to ensure landlords let property that meet legal standards and gives renters the support they need when they don’t.”

 

New divorce law could lead to ‘spike’ in divorces

Justice secretary David Gauke has said a new law could lead to a ‘spike’ in divorces, but the rate is ultimately like to “remain much the same.”

Mr Gauke said people were holding off until the law changed leading to an increase “in the waiting list.”

Mr Gauke added that it was vital the reforms were made to end the divorce “blame game.”

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill removes the need, in England and Wales, to find fault in order to start proceedings immediately.

The bill was approved by MPs at its second reading.

Mr Gauke told the Commons current rules prevent couples from separating “if they have grown apart” unless they have the means to live apart for two years.

He also said a change in the law would help in situations where there is one abusive partner, but the other does not want to raise these issues in court.

 

 

 

Fraudsters target pregnant woman in ‘cash for crash’ scam

Three people who targeted a pregnant woman in an £18,000 “cash for crash” scam have been sentenced.

City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department discovered the victim had manoeuvred behind the fraudsters’ car on the roundabout when they suddenly braked, causing their victim to crash into the back of them on the M5 roundabout in West Bromwich.

 

Police became involved when insurer Hastings became suspicious of personal injury claims received after the incident.

The court heard the trio claimed that they suffered injuries to their spine, upper back or shoulders. The total value of the claims was £18,000.

 

All three pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and were sentenced.

 

 

Det Con Kevin Hughes, who the led the investigation for IFED, said, “In an effort to make some money, these fraudsters put the safety of the victim and other drivers around them at serious risk.

“It’s a relief to know that no-one was injured, including the victim. Thankfully she and her baby were unhurt.

“Thanks to the initial referral by Hastings Direct and their support throughout our investigation, we were able to ensure these fraudsters were brought to justice.”

 

Model for Online Court moves in to RTA Claims

The dispute resolution forum seen as a model for England and Wales’ online court has begun handling road accident claims in the first step to taking over 80% of all such cases in the province, according to the Law Gazette.

Shannon Salter, tribunal chair, revealed the online tribunal has now taken its first two MVA (motor vehicle accident) PI cases since extending its jurisdiction into this sector in April. The court has exclusive jurisdiction to handle claims up to £29,600 under legislation passed last year to resolve a crisis at British Columbia’s government-owned motor insurer.

The Law Gazette reported that Salter said,

“To put it mildly, PI lawyers were quite displeased about this change.”

To date, the court has handled only two motor vehicle cases, both of which settled at an early stage.

It is expecting to take on 30,000 claims a year.

The online process starts with the presumption that the case is not going to end up in the tribunal, with parties passing through a voluntary negotiation stage and a mandatory mediation stage before they get to adjudication.

 

 

Divorce law shake-up proposed in Commons

Legislation aimed at reducing “mudslinging” between divorcing couples in England and Wales has been proposed in the Commons.

The government says the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is the biggest shake-up of divorce laws in 50 years.

At present, one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other for divorce proceedings to start straight away.

If the bill passes, spouses will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This can be a joint statement.

The government says the bill has cross-party support and hopes its passage through Parliament will be smooth.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Marriage will always be a vitally important institution in society, but when a relationship breaks down it cannot be right that the law adds fuel to the fire by incentivising couples to blame each other.

“By removing the unnecessary mudslinging the current process can needlessly rake up, we’ll make sure the law plays its part in allowing couples to move on as amicably and constructively as possible.”

 

 

Divorcee awaits ruling in multimillion-pound court fight with ex-partner

An American divorcee is waiting for a judge’s ruling on the latest round of a High Court fight over millions of pounds worth of property with a former partner.

Mandy Gray, 50, is suing New Zealander Hamish Hurley, 46, after ending a six-year relationship.

They are arguing over the ownership of a “collection of supercars”, a villa in Italy and a farm in New Zealand.

Mr Justice Lavender analysed preliminary arguments about whether or not the fight should be staged in England at a High Court hearing in London.

He is expected to produce a ruling in the near future.

Mr Hurley, who lives in New Zealand, said he was not “domiciled in England” when with Ms Gray and a judge in England should not analyse the dispute.

Ms Gray, who lives in London, said Mr Hurley was domiciled in England “and only be sued here.”

The judge heard the car collection at the centre of the dispute was worth several million pounds and included Ferraris, Porsches and McLarens.

Lawyers representing Ms Gray said she bought the assets at the centre of the dispute.

Ms Gray has described Mr Hurley as a “gold-digger, par excellence” and said he subjected her to “emotional and mental abuse” and “on a number of occasions’” assaulted her.

 

Tenants lives put at risk by landlord in shared house

A landlord has been fined after putting the lives of his tenants at risk.

Nasir Bashir Ali was prosecuted by housing officials for safety breaches linked to a shared house he owns in Hinckley.

Officials became aware of the issues following a routine inspection of the licensed premises.

Ali admitted 10 offences when he appeared before Leicester Magistrates after failing to meet conditions of the licence to run a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

 

The offences included failing to maintain a working fire alarm system and providing certification of its proper maintenance. Officers also identified defective fire doors.

 

Ali was fined £2,780 for the offences and full costs of £1,961 were awarded to the prosecuting authority Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

 

He was also ordered to pay victim surcharge of £170.

Solicitor struck off for overcharging by thousands on probate matters

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck off a solicitor who was found to have ‘deliberately and excessively’ overcharged clients.

According to the Law Gazette, Keith Smart, was working as a sole practitioner at south Wales firm Keith Smart & Co when he misused client funds.

Smart has admitted to eight counts of dishonesty.

 

The Law Gazette reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) told the tribunal that Smart failed to have properly written up books of accounts, made or permitted round sum transfers of at least £128,000 on account of the firm’s costs, and caused or allowed debit balances to exist on client accounts.

The SRA also alleged that Smart overcharged several of his clients, in one instance by a minimum of £70,765, and tried to mislead investigators looking into his conduct.

The tribunal judgment said: ‘[Smart] had admitted eight counts of dishonesty. His misconduct was assessed as very serious. He had deliberately and excessively overcharged clients. He also deliberately misled the [SRA] both during his interview and in writing.

‘The tribunal considered that given the serious nature of the allegations admitted, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the respondent from the roll.’

Smart was ordered to pay costs of £20,151.64.

Increase in first-time buyer home lending

Lending to first time buyers is up in the first quarter of 2019, according to figures from UK Finance.
In Scotland there were 6,760 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in Scotland, a 4.5% increase from the same quarter last year.
Furthermore, there were 6,620 new home mover mortgages, an increase of 6.6%.
The figures also found that there were 9,670 new home owner remortgages completed in Scotland, the highest volume of remortgaging in Scotland in a decade.
There were 3,450 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in Wales, a rise of 1.2%.
In Northern Ireland there were 2,440 new first-time buyer mortgages completed, an increase of 11.4%.
There were 9,410 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in London, a rise of 1.6%.

Letting agency accused of ‘locking out tenants’

A letting agency has been accused of illegally evicting tenants and taking their belongings.
According to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, three tenants, who rented rooms through Flintons, said they arrived home to find locks had been changed and rooms emptied.
Some said their possessions had not yet been returned. Others said their belongings were given back in bin bags, left on the street outside the agency.
Flintons, in east London, said it “strongly denies” the claims.
As reported by the BBC, one man who rented a room, through Flintons, said he was charged extra fees for late payment of rent, which he disputes and was in discussions with Flintons to resolve.
He further claims that in December 2018, he arrived home to find the key to his room would not work. After a locksmith eventually let him in, he said his room was empty, and alleges that Flintons had taken his clothes, towels and even his passport.
Flintons disputes that Julius was locked out of his room or that his possessions were removed.
Flintons further said it will “vigorously defend” any legal claim.