Renters unsure after change in law

The new law which makes charging upfront fees for services including viewings, credit checks, references and setting up a tenancy illegal has still left renters unsure.

Landlords or agents found charging the fees can be fined £5,000 for a first offence.

 

According to the English Housing Survey, the average amount of additional fees paid before the ban was between £100 and £300,

According to the BBC, research from Citizens Advice found 42% of people paying letting agents’ fees had to borrow money to pay them.

 

Enquiries to Citizens Advice about tenant fees increased by 54%, to 430, in the month after the law was introduced, while The Property Ombudsman (TPO) received 68.

The BBC reported that a TPO official said most had been from renters unsure whether the new law affected existing tenancies.

Those who signed a tenancy agreement before 1 June may still face fees in their contract for the next 12 months, including renewal fees.

 

 

Airbnb host fined £100,000 for letting council flat

An Airbnb host who rented out his council flat to tourists has been fined £100,000 and evicted.

Council tenant Toby Harman, 37, created the fake identity “Lara” to rent out his flat.

Harman was taken to court. Following a failed appeal he was evicted and ordered to pay £100,974 in unlawful profits.

Airbnb said the council property listing had been removed from its website. A spokeswoman said,

“We regularly remind hosts to check and follow local rules – including on subsidised housing – and we take action on issues brought to our attention.

“Airbnb… works with London to limit how often hosts can share their space and we support proposals from the mayor of London for a registration system to help local authorities regulate short-term lets and ensure rules are applied equally to hosts on all platforms in the capital.”

 

 

Tenant smashes up flat with hammer

A tenant in a one-bed flat in Cardiff caused £20,000 of damage to the rented property. She also set fire to all her possessions and covered the walls in graffiti.

The landlord described the damage “horrendous” saying, “I’m speechless. It’s just utter carnage.”

The landlord had been battling to reclaim the one-bed flat for almost a year from the tenant who failed to pay her rent for ten months. She was also reported for antisocial behaviour.

The landlord said,

“Four months into the tenancy the payments just suddenly stopped. We couldn’t get hold of her and that is where the warning signals began. She’s a real problem tenant.”

Bailiffs were subsequently called to force entry.

 

 

 

 

Lying tenant jailed

A landlord spoke of his “horrendous” three-year ordeal after a Leeds tenant who faked a statement to back up a county court claim against him was jailed.

 

Elaine’s Moxon’s false statement contributed to a judgement going against landlord Zareef Latif which left him facing county court fines and costs of more than £30,000.

Mr Latif was the landlord of a house in Leeds which was rented by Moxon and her husband from 2011 to 2015.

In 2016 Mr Latif sued Moxon for rent arrears of £4,200.

 

Moxon launched a counter claim for damages and claimed Mr Latif had dumped her property on the street before changing the locks after evicting her and her husband.

A judge subsequently ordered Mr Latif to pay £24,800 to the Moxons for damage to property in respect of her counter claim, plus court costs.

Mr Latif later discovered that Moxon had used her cousin’s name without her knowledge to put a false statement before the court.

Mr Latif reported his findings to police and applied to have the county court judgement against him removed.

Moxon, 52, admitted perverting the course of justice.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said, “It was a thoroughly dishonest and wicked thing to do.”

Mr Latif said, “This woman has put me through an absolutely horrendous ordeal for the last three years.

“It has been a nightmare. She is now where she belongs and I hope to be able to get on with my life.”

Landlord who crammed two tenants into one loft is given big fine

A landlord who crammed six tenants into one house, including two into one converted loft space, has been ordered to pay £15,000 in fines and costs.

 

Suresh Nathan Paramaswara, who owns a three-storey house in Totteridge, must pay £15,281 after failing to obtain a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) licence.

Paramaswara was convicted at Willesden Magistrates Court.

 

Barnet Council inspected the unlicensed property following a tip-off and found four separate lettings and four tenants in “unsatisfactory conditions.”

A Barnet Council spokesperson said “if Paramaswara had applied for a licence, the council would have identified these unsatisfactory conditions during the licensing inspection.”

Not all landlords aware of impact of tenant fees

Not all landlords are aware of the impact of the tenant ban fees which came into force in England last month, as reported by insidecoveyancing.co.uk.

According to agents Chestertons, landlords are still unaware that the ban looks back as well as forwards. It says that as the legislation is enforceable on all Assured Shorthold tenancy agreements, landlords don’t just need to adjust, but they must become aware of the complexities involved with unravelling existing tenancies.

It is believed that many landlords are unaware that sections referring to extra costs on agreements drawn up before 01 June 2019 may not be binding when it comes to a tenant moving out of a property, or once the tenancy renews.

As reported by insidecoveyancing.co.uk, Donna Ingram, Head of Tenancy Services at Chestertons said,

“Many landlords are unaware that if a tenant moves out after 31 May 2020 costs cannot be charged to the tenant, even if these were written in to a tenancy agreement. Landlords could be in for a shock next June when services, such as an end of tenancy professional clean, cannot be charged to the tenant despite a clause in the contract. So the wording of tenancy agreements is more important than ever to ensure peace of mind and prevent landlords from being caught out.”

 

 

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.”

 

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.

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.