[Ben Reeve Lewis is still wavering over Europe…)
So I was training 22 Environmental Health officers for Doncaster Council on Wednesday on how to deal with harassment and illegal eviction.
The night before I booked into the Premier Inn near the station where a helpful lady advised me it was a self-check-in arrangement. She ushered me over to a screen and patiently stood there showing me what buttons to press and then guiding me to my room.
I thought, what’s the point of self check-in if you were with me every step of the way? Why didn’t you just book me in like normal?
I refuse to use those self check outs in supermarkets too [me too, Ed]. It’s not that I’m anti-technology at all, far from it but every time I’ve used them they jam up, or repeatedly hector me with “Unexpected item in baggage area” when there isn’t.
All of which forces you to look around getting increasingly annoyed for the on hand assistant who is equally harassed, unjamming the machine for someone else, or even more irritatingly chatting away to a colleague.
Queuing is a less stressful option I find and shop lifting a preferable alternative.
Good news on the rogue landlord front
It’s been a satisfying week. Property Industry Eye reported on the conviction of Aiden Lynch, a letting agent on my old manor who has been jailed for using his rental properties as cannabis farms.
Mr L was on Lewisham’s rogue landlord list. I visited several of his properties including the cannabis farms. That trial had been ongoing for a year now and I knew he had been convicted but this is the first I’ve heard of the sentencing.
His shop was simply a front and wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny, hosting as it did the oldest computer terminals known to man that should really be in the Design Museum along with the faded photos of properties in the window so old the prices were listed in Groats.
Everytime I drove past the shop, and there was hardly ever anyone in there, I would say to myself “And who are you fooling exactly?”
Anyway goodbye Mr Lynch, enjoy the next 5 years.
Staying with rogue landlords I see this week that Wolverhampton Council obtained the first Criminal Behaviour Order against landlord Jaspal Singh Sahota. Environmental Health News advises us that the CRIMBO (as they are known) will remain in place for 10 years and was issued on the basis that the landlord was causing alarm and distress to the tenants and letting out poor quality homes.
He has been ordered to appoint an agent to manage is properties and to disclose to the council all his property interests on pain of a prison sentence of 5 years if he hasn’t complied with the CRIMBO by the 1st June.
What with council/police partnerships, environmental health officers widening their prosecution powers to include Protection from Eviction Act cases and anti-social behaviour teams getting creative in dealing with rogue landlords the future looks bright on the multi-agency front as the way forward.
A cause I have been banging on about for years but which so many councils are slow to come around to.
Generation Rent on the case
Generation Rent have been a bit quiet since Alex Hylton got married and moved to Singapore but they are on the case again with calls to letting agents from charging fees to tenants .
If this sounds like a ‘Way out there’ idea bear in mind that the practice has been unlawful in Scotland for many years now.
The article points out that despite the advertising of letting agent fees being a statutory, therefore legal requirement since last year, 14% are still not doing so. A reckless omission when you consider it’s a £5,000 penalty for each breach on both shops and websites.
What my council enforcement training delegates tell me as I wend my increasingly weary way around this green and pleasant is that they don’t have the staff or resources to get out there and target the non-compliant scamps.
Newham Council, ever pro-active in these matters created a dedicated team solely to target agents in this way but in many areas they can still operate with impunity.
Ben on the Telly
I was on last week’s episode of ‘Nightmare tenants, slum landlords’ again with some new footage I filmed in December, trouble is I completely forgot to watch it and have yet to see it on catch up, such is my crazy schedule.
Its god’s way of letting you know you’ve done enough TV when you can’t raise the interest to bother watching yourself
Deposit regulations AGAIN
You will be pleased to hear that deposit protection regulations have already started to fall apart again with the news reported by Nearly Legal on the case of Bali v. Manaquel Company Limited.
The landlords being accused of not serving the prescribed information of the deposit scheme being used.
The courts took the view that although the DPS leaflet had not been given (the DPS don’t have a leaflet) the information provided did satisfy the requirement.
However, the problem came through another bit of legislation in the form of Section 44 (2) of the Companies Act 2006, which states that a company document is validly executed if it is signed on behalf of the company (in this case Manaquel Company Ltd) by two authorised signatories or by a director of the company in the presence of a witness who attests to the signature.
The prescribed information came as part of a letterheaded document with Manaquel’s name on it so it was considered served under the Companies Act.
One to watch out for if you are a letting agent or portfolio landlord.
What made me smile this week.
Still ever wavering on the EU issue (this week I’m for leaving again) I watched Al Murray’s pub landlord neatly summing up the EU crisis in this sublime, laugh out loud clip.
See ya next week