[Ben Reeve Lewis is ahead of the game this week...]
Having completely forgotten to write last week’s newsround until I woke up on Friday morning I am diligently getting ahead of the game this week.
Beef curry on in the background, waiting for Frazzles to come home and typing away with a sherry or 2.
Getting excited about oppression
I rather excitedly picked up an oppression case this week. A reasonably rare legal animal.
There isn’t the space here to go into what oppression is but what it resulted in for my client, whose mortgage lender had taken possession and even changed the locks, was that the judge went with our submission and set the warrant aside.
She was let back in. Hooooorahhhh!!!!!
You get really bored dealing with depressingly common rounds of threats and harassment. To have something a bit out of the legal norm is quite fun. Also nice to get a result in front of a judge and his spindly, accusing finger who made it quite clear last time that he hated my guts.
The biggest eviction
Another very unusual case came to my attention this week courtesy of Legal Action magazine, January edition. The biggest illegal eviction in the world. Where is the Guinness book of records when you need them?
It turns out that the residents of Schubert Park in Pretoria rioted when gas and electricity supplies broke down which should have been maintained by their landlords, the local council who moved them out to do the works then refused to let them back in. All 700 families, about 3,000 people.
You have to admire the chutzpah there. The mother of all illegal evictions. Imagine the paperwork for the poor TRO?
The Legal action article was amusing to read but digging a bit deeper I found some interesting aspects not in the LAG piece.
Reading on Bissets website I read of the South African constitution which was at the heart of this case. A different legal system to the UK. The Bissets article pointed out:-
“The Constitutional Court held that many provisions in the constitution require the substantive involvement and engagement of people in decisions that affect their lives. Their inherent dignity entitles them to be treated as equals in the engagement process.”
I know nothing of South Africa, other than buying a packet of Biltong in Sainsbury’s last week but would like to know more about the notion of substantive involvement in issues that affect people’s lives.
Just blame the poor for it all …
Something which seems to be lacking in UK society at the moments as Cameron and Osborne seem more and more intent on a daily basis on kicking the crap out of the citizens of GB and blaming the poorest for the situation we find ourselves in.
I don’t think the words ‘Inherent dignity’ is something that occurs to them much. Maybe we need to complain more, instead of blithely accepting it all.
As Frank Zappa sang on his treatise on religion, ‘He’s got 20 million dollars in his heavenly bank account’ – “Remember there’s a big difference between kneeling down and bending over”.
My week was buoyed by reading HMO Landlady’s latest instalment of life from HMO land. I always look forward to her postings, they make me smile in a dull week.
This week was a classic, hilarious tale of confusing Helga with Petra but also some practical advice for landlords of getting chummy with your local PCSO’s
Last year I had to go and check out an illegal eviction down in sunny Deptford and bumped into 2 local officers who knew every protagonist, including neighbours and the landlord. Between us we banged on doors and I had it sorted in an hour. The power of local knowledge. HMO Landlady has it harnessed.
PCSOs are the modern equivalent of the mythical 1930s ‘clip around the ear’ coppers us Brits so love and value…..and I mean that without irony. They are a valuable and much under-appreciated resource in modern community life.
Nearly Legal reported this week on government’s continuing ire at Croydon Council, who are fast becoming the whipping boys of homelessness issues
24 Dash also ran a Croydon bashing article as well For those of you out of the loop, Croydon’s homelessness unit got into trouble for having too many people in bed and breakfast accommodation and have also been lashed for having the temerity to try and relocate homeless families to different areas, well away from Croydon in an attempt to keep those B&B figures down.
A quick lesson in homelessness for Landlord Law Blog readers
Councils have a legal duty to shelter and rehouse people who apply as homeless. If they try to block this it is called ‘Gatekeeping’, which is illegal. More homeless people means the statistics look bad on government.
But there is a law that says councils can’t put people in B&B accommodation for more than 6 weeks, and even then only in an emergency.
Councils have nowhere to put those homeless applicants, up 38% in the last 2 years, so they have to break the law and put people in B&B for longer periods. Where else are they going to go? Your house?
So they then try to keep on top of the catastrophe by finding accommodation for them that is affordable (another legal requirement) but London’s out of control rents means they have to send them out of area where rents balance up with the housing benefit caps but government complain that this is illegal too.
A daft game
Every single council in the UK plays this daft, duplicitous game that is imposed on them by Parliament. Croydon for some reason is being scapegoated at the moment. (6 months ago it was Newham). Made to carry the can for government policy.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The quandary of every council in the UK. I would really appreciate it if newspapers and news blogs would stop bashing people trying to do the job, using tools that they didn’t ask for, and instead call it for what it is and point the finger of blame where it should be pointed.
But while I’m getting on my soap box in defence of my fellow council workers let’s do a BBC style balance piece and flag up the shameful case of Adnan Nazir and Jamille Pertisatti, both late of Barnet council in North London.
They were jailed for a deposit scam, using council funds to create fake landlords and tenants to cream off the council’s deposit scheme and fill their own bank accounts. Even selling their scam on as a business model.
Written up in Housing Excellence, Councillor Richard Cornelius said:-
“This was a calculated and highly organised attack on a scheme set up to help people in real financial need, involving a former staff member who abused his position for personal gain.”
I’ll defend my colleagues to the death but even I admit we aint all saints………..now if only I could find where to buy details of their scam online……………..