[Ben Reeve Lewis is finding it hard to find the news ..
Jumping straight in this week without any preliminary nonsense from my personal life, my attention was drawn by the Consumer Action Group to new plans on county courts fees.
An important change
Every now and again a really import legal change comes in that would garner nary a single bye-line in a national newspaper which gets overlooked because it either seems tediously technical or seemingly inconsequential.
Welcome to government proposals to increase the fee for General Application claims to the county court using an N244 form.
It used to be about £70 but went up a while ago and now looks set to go to £255 per application.
Why its important
The N244 route is the procedure involved that often allows tenants to set aside possession orders, adjourn proceedings, suspend warrants etc, so many landlord readers here may not have a lot of sympathy, but you need to bear in mind one important point.
General applications are also used when a mortgage lender is seeking possession against a borrower in difficulty, for the same reasons, adjournments, suspensions etc.
If the mortgage lender already has a possession order or bailiff’s warrant and your circumstances change and then you make an offer to the lender, who will usually refuse because hey….they already have the order they want so why should they cut you a deal?
Mortgage repossession cases
Well in the absence of any sympathetic response the N244 will get you into court for a chance of a judge over-ruling the mortgage lender’s intractability.
Mortgage repossession cases can drag on for well over a year. I know, I’ve defended hundreds of the buggers and the hapless borrower, in an attempt to save their home can find themselves launching 3 or 4 applications in order to save themselves.
So these current plans will require a borrower, already in financial purgatory to have to find an additional £1,000+ to save the day.
Gonna be difficult, people.
As part of the consultation 96% of respondents, which included the Law Society and the Money Advice Service urged government not to, but as was the case with the Right to Rent they went ahead anyway, so its on the cards right now….unless you sign the petition here.
Look at the bigger picture. It could be you someday.
A Nasty story
On the landlord tenant news rounds I picked up this story widely reported about a Dublin tenant who killed and ate his landlord.
I’m not making light of this at all and my heart goes out to landlord Tom O’ Gorman’s family but what I find really unhelpful is pushing this entirely irrelevant connection.
The Killer, for that is all he was, Saverio Bellante was a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic.
Dr Mohan treating Bellante said:
“His condition was challenging at the outset and it proved difficult to treat with high levels of medication”.
And went on to say:
“Bellante was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia”.
‘Tenant eats landlord’ stories do nothing to help the often difficult relationship between the two parties.
Some will remember the tabloid coverage a few years back of Bristol landlord Christopher Jefferies, who for a time was a high-profile suspect in the killing of his tenant Joanna Yates, promoted on the basis that he was a landlord, weird looking and therefore evil.
You expect this from tabloids but not from property portals, some of whom took a similar line with this story on their blogs. The ultimate nightmare tenant.
Come on people, move on. Stop it.
What would you do?
I’m constantly rattling on at dinner guests and last weekend a wet BBQ, about government’s inability to tackle the housing crisis and am used to being put on the spot by people asking “Well what would you do?”. At which point I shut up, as to be honest I do find it difficult to find any solution other than nationalising housing and capping rents.
An answer admittedly not much more clued up than Peter Sellers’ Fred Kite Character in ‘I’m Alright Jack’ a communist shop steward who describes Stalin’s Russia with misty eyes “All them cornfields and ballet in the evenin”.
So I was pleased to read this article on the excellent Alex’s Archives who is always far more intelligent and articulate than me, about a recently published study of the housing crisis in New South Wales, Australia, which is similarly struggling away in a distinctly UK style.
The paper by Gurran and Phibbs, titled “Are governments really interested in fixing the housing problem?” takes the unusual angle that it isn’t in government’s interest to solve the crisis because they are too busy keeping the money men happy and ameliorating the concerns of homeowners.
The study paper looked at 10 years of Aussie housing policies and observed that rich, political party financing house builders were firmly in the deregulation camp.
“Of course they would, why wouldn’t they? If I were a builder who could make several percent more on every sale by reducing the regulatory burden I’d be a mug not to press the government to go down the deregulatory route”
While the home-owning electorate don’t want to see more properties built lest it drive down house prices.
The study interestingly quoted an ex NSW planning minister who put his finger on it in explaining what happened with a house building developers lobby the Urban Task Force:
“The Urban Task Force tried to meddle wherever it had interests. [The CEO]’s job was to generalise the private ambitions of his small band of members to give the appearance of a broader philosophical and whole-of-industry view. In reality, it was a small band of speculators trying to hustle the government into making policy decisions that suited them. The Urban Task Force started to turn on the government and me as minister from the middle of 2007.”
I cant help thinking that this is also happening here.
Even if it isn’t it gives me a more impressive sounding argument at the next rained off BBQ than promoting the morality of anyone having control over another person’s home.
What made me smile this week.
Hector, our mad working Cocker Spaniel wriggling under a fence between Sydenham Hill woods and Dulwich golf course, nicking a golf ball off of a tee and running off with it, whilst being pursued by a golf nut sporting pink and blue tartan clothes waving his club and having a heart attack.
Needless to say I hid in the bushes laughing tears.
See ya next week.