I’ve had a busy time of late.
Last week brought me 7 illegal evictions, this week I have had another 3 and a brace of court cases defending mortgage borrowers from repossession, one of which brought down the wrath of Judge Freeborough on Monday who fixed me with his beady eye, pointed his finger at me and said menacingly
“I’m suspending this warrant for 6 weeks, unless you can come up with something good I don’t want to see you coming back through that door”.
So I took the Telling!
Judges are like that sometimes and you don’t survive long in court if you can’t take it on the chin, or “Bite it on the chin” as Frazzles who is prone to confuse her metaphors says. Last week whilst driving to IKEA on a fruitless search for a dining table she said “I’m not letting any worms out”, which I presume meant she didn’t want to open a can of worms.
In the past she has also said “You’ve got to let the dogs sleep”, instead of letting sleeping dogs lie.
Rents coming down claims Shapps
A point completely lost on Grant Shapps this week who has refused to support said canines in their dozing intentions when he once again trotted out the idea that PRS rents are coming down.
24 Dash ran a story of our housing minister’s response to questions from Labour’s Andrew Gwynne on the reduction in security of private tenants Shapps countered with:
“tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) are happier than in the social sector and that there is evidence to suggest that rents in the PRS are falling.”
Those with reasonable memories will recall a few month’s back Cameron also stating that rent levels were coming down, a statement he was attacked for from many quarters, not least of whom was shadow housing bod Jack Dromey, so why won’t Shapps refrain from prodding the slumbering schnauzer?
Mr. Dromey also waded in again on this point by saying:
“Will the housing minister now admit to the 1.1 million families struggling to pay their rent that he got it wrong?”
Shapps of course denied this and the usual debate rumbles on, with government refusing to acknowledge any problems and insisting that their measures for dealing with the housing crisis (whatever they are) are actually working. So its business as usual in the commons.
Property scamming grandma
The story that intrigued me this week was a property scam of breathtaking unpleasantnessversion in “Croydon Today” Apparently a drugs gang were laundering money through a hairdressers just outside Croydon but when profits got too large they had to look elsewhere and came up with a property scam that ended up netting them £3.8 million.
They identified properties they guessed were empty and put a sign in the garden asking for owner contact. When they didn’t get any they employed a bent solicitor, a bent bank manager and a bent official at the Land registry to change documents and hide information in order to sell the properties to others.
The land registry clerk, a Grandmother Surjeet Chana would change the names on the ownership documents, the bent solicitor, from Peckham I am told, would do the conveyancing and the bank manager did……..whatever bank managers do. All of the gang received custodial sentences, or if you prefer “Got done up like a kipper”.
I always quite appreciate the ingeniousness of a decent scam until you look at the victims in this. The reason why the properties were empty was because in most cases the owners were elderly and either in care homes or hospitals.
When you read that Ms Chana only got 3 years and 9 months for her part in this you can only feel she got off very lightly. Maybe she should have had her home taken away from her too, as should the rest of the gang. Whatever happened to the Proceeds of Crime Act?
Housing benefit bill still rising
I couldn’t help but report this interesting story in Inside Housing on the fact that data released from the Department of Work and Pensions shows that despite all the cuts to housing benefit driving a lot of the madness that we are currently having to deal with, the housing benefit bill is actually rising.
In December 2011 there were 4.95 million people on HB compared to 4.93 million the month before. And between October and December the same year the number of people claiming HB rose by almost 12,000.
I’ll be honest, numbers make my head swim, that is why I am permanently broke, I cant even understand my bank statements. As long as the cash machine doesn’t tell me “Insufficient funds in your account” I presume I am doing OK. So I don’t get a lot of the stats but luckily Mr Joe Halewood, whose blog ‘Speye’ I am rapidly becoming a fan of, does understand the figures and its worth reading his comments at the bottom of the article when he says;
“The HB bill rose £56.1m from November to December and means that the HB bill has risen by £2.75m every day since the coalition took office”.
I confess Joe that I don’t always follow your arguments (I am convinced that my problem with numbers is a medical condition similar to colour blindness) but even I can understand that.
While millions of tenants are suffering by having their benefits cut and landlords are having problems with tenants who can no longer afford the rent, in reality the misery being created by HB cuts is a nonsense anyway as more and more people are claiming and the bill is rising!!!!!
As John Cleese said about politicians in an interview on the South Bank Show I watched recently on YouTube;
“What’s amazing isn’t that we believe them in the first place, but the fact that we don’t throw rocks at them”.
What every landlord needs
Finally I just have to write about Tessa’s new Your Law Store publication, Tom Derrit’s book “How to win Deposit Disputes”. Tessa sent me a copy and I was mightily impressed and I think it deserves to be recorded as a news item.
I cant see a landlord in the country who wouldn’t benefit from having it, nor various advice offices too. As Tom points out, only 8% of PRS landlords win deposit disputes outright and the reason is not down to unfair adjudicators, just sloppily drafted claims.
Its one of those rare things that could literally save you thousands of pounds. A no-brainer as they say.
A day in the life
Tonight sees the grand re-opening of our local pub, 50 yards away, as a Tapas bar. How East Dulwich is that?
And on Saturday I am going to Heathrow to welcome my 23 year old daughter back from her 6 month travels through Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. I expect tears, tiredness and a fair bit of snapping (she doesn’t do sleep depravation well) but it will be nice to see how her experiences have changed her.
She has no job to come back too so unless she can pull her finger out quick she will add to the HB figures, making more nonsense of the government’s claims. That’s my girl!
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben’s runs Home Saving Expert, where he shares his secrets on defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties, catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.