[Note – this Newsround was written before the Gov’t published their proposals on the tenant fee ban etc. I will be looking at these next week. Tessa]
A big news item for me and my homelessness colleagues was announced last week, ending a court process that has taken 2 years to decide what Lord Neuberger meant by the word ‘Significantly’ in the appeal hearing for Hotak v. Southwark LBC back in 2015.
Two bleedin’ years to figure out what a judge meant by one word!
I won’t bore you with the finer details but the latest hearing was to decide whether he meant
‘To a greater extent than simply insignificant or peripheral’ or ’Something really serious’.
In the deciding case covered on Nearly Legal, Lewison LJ commented:-
“The first question is whether we should attempt any further exegesis of what Lord Neuberger meant, and whether reviewing officers should explain what they mean by “significantly”.
Mr Lewison went on to say:-
“I do not, therefore consider that Lord Neuberger can have used “significantly” in such a way as to introduce for the first time a quantitative threshold “
Call me old-fashioned…
and I know better than to suggest a simple solution when it comes to law but given the fact that this whole thing was about what one judge might or might not have meant and that Neuberger and Lewison are both law lords, why didn’t Lewison LJ just tap Neuberger LJ on the arm in the gents and ask him what he meant?
Could have saved millions in legal aid.
Christmas is coming
I was a bit miffed last weekend to see our local council have already stuck up the Xmas lights on the lampposts. I wondered why they bothered taking them down but it set me thinking of what I’m going to do for Xmas this year and I was amused to read in the Guardian of a group of tenants, who have never seen their landlord but leave their rent in the rooms and he magically appears in a puff of glitter when they aren’t looking and takes the money.
Sort of Secret Santa in reverse.
I couldn’t help wondering why the tenants didn’t sit up all night hoping to catch a glimpse of him, popping down the chimney with a rent book in hand.
How do they know it isn’t one of the other room-mates scamming them?
A cautionary tale
Here’s how not to set up a tenancy covered in the Daily Mail and elsewhere.
20 years ago Mr Gregory was struggling with his mortgage and sold his home to his friends the Hardings and became tenants on the understanding that they would be tenants for life at a fixed and reduced rent but now the Hardings want to move to Spain and sell the house.
A purchaser was found who agreed to keep the Gregorys as tenants but at an increased rent, so they defended the possession action because of the rent increase and won the case.
Unless Mr and Mrs Harding can find a buyer willing to purchase with the Gregorys as tenants at a fixed rent for the next 90 years they cant sell up.
What’s that old saying?
“No good deed ever goes unpunished”.
Prime Ministers’ other job
I read that Theresa May is herself a landlord. Apparently, the property, formerly her London crash pad, recorded on the register of Parliamentary member’s financial interests, is worth over £100,000 and brings in over £10,000 in rent and is listed as being in Central London.
It must be rubbish. You cant buy a shoebox in central London for under £500k and the rent is £833 per month, standard rent for a room in a house.
Are things so bad that the leader of our nation was living in a Barratt studio flat with a fold down bed?. No wonder she is so keen to hang on to the PM job. Who wants to move from number 10 to a scabby self-contained room?
Right to Rent
ARLA ran a piece this week about the borders Police, known as ICIBI (for the time being. It changes regularly) calling for evidence to review the right to rent which came into full force in February 2016.
“In our response we are highlighting the ineffectiveness of legislation which fails to be supported by appropriate levels of enforcement. Many members are simply sceptical of the impact on rogue landlords delivering substandard accommodation because of a fundamental lack of enforcement activity”.
Couldn’t agree more.
Stats are not good
I briefly trawled around the internet for news of prosecutions and found that just 62 landlords were fined last year across the whole country. Given the numbers of relevant properties out there that I go into across London 62 is minuscule, trust me.
I’ve done countless joint raids with the borders police and generally found the same problem as council enforcement teams, namely the lack of resources.
The Black Markets still out there
In one episode of Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords that I was in last year we were shown going to a 2 bed flat with 23 people in it. The attending police whistled up the Borders crew but there was nobody to deal with the problems, so we all just left.
The property owner was a foreign national, non-resident in the UK and the property itself was controlled by Triad gangs. All the occupants were moved the next day, as were the 32 who were there when we raided the property the year before.
And the situation isn’t made any better by the concomitant growth in fake ID to hoodwink the unwary.
The BBC reported an increase in black market activity in this area.
One fraudster featured in the BBC programme said of their passports:-
“Don’t try to use them at the airport, where they check thoroughly. You will not be able to con a proper immigration officer but they are good enough to fool landlords.”
So look on the bright side, while you might get conned you probably won’t get prosecuted. Every cloud…………
What made me smile this week
Discovering 2 superb TV series to sink into in the coming winter months, “4 Blocks” a German programme about Arab drug dealers, a sort of Teutonic and far more violent version of “The Wire” without the political undertones and “Hell on Wheels”, about the expansion of the railroads across America in the 19th Century.
If you liked “Deadwood” you’ll love this. I do love a western that looks like a western, all big hats, mud, unshaven men, hookers and mis-firing pistols. None of that John Wayne nonsense.
See ya in a fortnight
That will be my last Newsround but if you are really keen for more I’m popping up on BBC1’s “Inside Out” London region on Monday night between the One Show and Eastenders, wittering on about micro-flats.