[Ben Reeve Lewis learns of landlords being given curfews…)
Regular readers will know that despite spending 25 years prosecuting landlords under the Protection from Eviction Act, I have become more than a little jaded by the penalties imposed by a limp criminal judiciary.
Other enforcement officers often misunderstand me. I’m not anti-prosecution just anti PFEA prosecutions in the current climate. There are better, more financially punitive methods of skinning a cat and most of the cards are held by the various environmental health powers.
However, even I was a little heartened this week by the news that came my way via Lime legal who pointed me at two interesting cases of rogue landlords being given a curfew
One determined little scamp in Luton decided that merely changing the locks wasn’t enough and he went on to fill the stop-cock chamber with cement to cut off their water supply.
Which reminded me of the time as a TRO when I was called to an illegal eviction where the landlord had dug a hole in front of the front door and sunk a gigantic metal, block of flats style wheelie bin into it and filled it with concrete so the tenant couldn’t get in.
Police advised him that if he tried to remove it he would be guilty of criminal damage, bless ‘em.
But this curfew malarkey is intriguing isn’t it? Is it really a punishment? If I was forced to stay in from 9pm to 7am it wouldn’t dent my life-style one iota, being as I am in my pyjamas by 6pm and often snoring by 9pm as I am so exhausted with work.
I’ve always thought of curfews as somehow quite exciting, conjuring up images of an attractive, plucky French resistance girl in a beret and shiny, black trench coat belted at the waist dodging from doorway to doorway on her way to a clandestine meeting where the Sten guns get circulated before blowing up a railway line.
The thought of a rogue landlord hiding in shadows from passing police cars on their way to a meeting of a Landlords Association just doesn’t have the same dramatic cache.
Immigration Act changes
February saw the introduction of the right to rent, that new law that everyone in the real world calls ‘Landlords as immigration inspectors’, a phrase I was berated for using at a government consultation meeting last year.
The RTR as I shall hereafter call it, is to be further compounded when the Immigration Bill becomes an ‘Act’, where landlords who it is discovered have let to illegal immigrants can evict them with 28 days notice. Their actual tenancy rights dissolving like candyfloss in a force 8 gale if it comes to light that they are pesky foreigners.
The Residential Landlords Association are applauding changes in the Bill which will protect landlords but in this curious article in 24 Dash it pulls off the strange journalistic trick of telling you that there is a change to the Bill without actually informing you what it is, following the initially promising title of “Responsible landlords to get protection from immigration bill”.
I had to go to the RLA website to find out what is proposed. Basically it would seem that instead of being criminalised for failing to carry out checks on the immigration status of prospective tenants, if the landlord takes reasonable steps to evict them as soon as they know then they will be in the clear and not given a curfew.
Thus denying them the opportunity of bumping into a glamorous French resistance girl after dark on their way to an NLA meeting.
The RLA article also provides information on other proposals to enable landlords to comply with serving deposit protection prescribed information and presumably the ‘How to rent’ booklet, in electronic form.
The RLA’s Alan Ward commenting:
“In the 21st Century it is ridiculous that landlords are expected to print so much paper when it can be provided at the simple click of the button”
I’ve never been much for religion of any kind and have scant knowledge of Christianity, never understood it at all, despite singing hymns in school assembly.
My parents used to say they were C of E but it was really just so they could put something on an application form, so as not to appear rude but the only time they or I have ever set foot in a church is weddings, funerals and the odd christening.
So I don’t really know what vicars are supposed to get up to when they aren’t sermonising but I was surprised to read in the Daily Express about Essex vicar William Ruddle who is a portfolio landlord. Bill makes the point that the tax clampdown on buy to let means that many landlords will be forced to sell up and the tenants made homeless but I’m not convinced that its as simple as that.
If he sells his portfolio of 9 properties they aren’t going anywhere. They will still be available as homes in the community, either with new home owners or new landlords. They just wont be his anymore.
Are vicars even allowed to be landlords?
Vicar landlords I have known
And before you think that you wouldn’t mind having a vicar for a landlord let me tell you its no guarantee of good treatment. I’ve prosecuted two of them in the past for illegal eviction, one who punched his tenant and took the keys off of him.
And I was told the amusing story last year by a police contact about 23 of them being called to a local church one Sunday morning where a mass punch-up had started over the collection plate.
Mind you Bill does rent out below market rents to people who normally can’t afford them so fair play your eminence.
What made me smile this week
The news that Jeremy Hunt suffered a severe accident on Tuesday but unfortunately passed away for lack of treatment in A&E as the junior doctors were on strike.
Well…………a man can dream cant he?
See ya next week