[Ben Reeve Lewis is being driven to distraction …)
I’m being driven to distraction this week by the TV news obsession with the Olympics.
Watch breakfast TV on either side and its all that is on. This morning I counted 10 minutes of event news in the whole hour, the rest was sport, sport, sport.
I’ve never been a big fan. A throwback to my school years where I was always a good foot shorter than anyone else in my class and weighed as much as bar of Milky Way.
Consequently you don’t get picked for any teams and spend school sports days raking the sand on the high jump pit while the bigger kids get the applause.
I decided there and then that I would work with my brain not my body, which also brought about a concomitant hatred of DIY. I get unreasonably angry whenever I am forced to pick up tools of any kind.
Last weekend saw me painting the garden fence. If you look at the picture to the side you will see what I thought of the first fence panel and I only got around 30% of the garden dragging out this particular third circle of hell to two weekends.
Housing Association tenant gets caught out subletting
On the housing news front it seems to be a week of heavy penalties. I came across the sorry tale of a housing association tenant Kamal Ali who got caught out and was ordered to pay £66,000 in illegal profits and rent arrears.. OUCH!!!!!!!!
Mr Ali was also revealed to have attempted to make a fraudulent right to buy application, again not an unusual occurrence. Easy money will always attract fraudsters and when you are taking the lid off the honey pot of free and discounted accommodation you are bound to attract flies.
Since subletting social housing became a criminal offence I have noticed that most councils and housing associations of my ken have been very slow to get out there and find them. Having the staff to do it is a genuine problem but there is technology available. You have to work smarter not harder.
The social landlord in this case, Poplar HARCA, have developed a £500 reward for information leading to discovery, which is a pretty smooth move. Ask anyone on an estate about their neighbours and everyone knows who is sub-letting. Frazzy’s brother, a resident on an estate in Deptford, said he rarely sees the same people leaving next door twice.
Rogue landlords get clobbered in the (civil) Courts
My old TRO heart was distinctly warmed by also reading the tale of two rogue landlords receiving decent penalties for harassment and illegal eviction:
- Mr Narang receiving a satisfying kick in the nuts to the tune of £29,394.15 not including court costs and
- Mr Wakelin down in Bournemouth receiving £31,514.90 and a threat of a further £8,000 suspended on condition that he return the tenant’s belongings which he had sequestered away.
As Nearly Legal commented and I have done so in print on many occasions myself, these penalties came from the civil court, not the magistrates. As Giles ably points out:
“Magistrates Courts continue to hand out paltry fines to landlords on conviction for illegal eviction, despite the removal of the upper £5000 limit”.
Also important to note that the Magistrates court will levy a fine whereas the vast majority of those life changing sums above goes to the tenants in the form of a range of damages.
Magistrates Courts’ pathetic fine in Widnes
Over in Widnes we have a classic illustrative point, the Liverpool Echo telling us that Warrington Magistrates heard the case of Peter Lamont who illegally evicted his tenant and turfed him on the street.
The council prosecuted under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 with the pathetic result of a £400 fine. The usual councillor trotted the usual line which you read so many times you presume they must be in a councillor’s manual somewhere:
“This successful prosecution sends out a clear message that we take allegations of illegal eviction very seriously”.
Yeah right. Lets hope the tenant has a go in the civil court as well.
As I’ve pointed out in the past it was actually cheaper to illegally evict than to pay the court costs for obtaining a possession order
Whats Portal Juggling?
Ever eager to expose a new housing scam when I come across one I was intrigued to read of a thing called “Portal juggling’. Have you heard of it? No me neither. It is apparently the practice by dodgy estate agents of:
“Deliberately removing properties from major property portals before relisting them – often with minor differences – to make them appear new on the market.”
The practice is an offence under trading regulations and in some instances can even be deemed fraud which will draw the attention of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
The fact that a national trading enforcement organisation has to have a separate team solely for estate agents is quite telling.
A spokesperson for the Propertry Ombudsman said:
“Manipulating internet portals – and any other channels of marketing – to give the impression a property is new to the market, when it was not, is “simply misleading.”.
I shall keep an eye out for this as I go house hunting, especially since several of the properties Frazzy and I looked at 5 months ago are still on the market.
Estate agents of Nottingham be warned, I have my eye on you.
What made me smile this week
Kind of rediscovering Peter Kay on “20 years of funny”. No YouTube link this time. I watched it on iPlayer.
My favourites are Bill Bailey and Tim Vine but you have to admit, there is something almost supernaturally funny about Peter Kay that very few people have.
See ya next week