Welcome to Friday. Lets see what news we can find.
Curry on the carpet
The first story is the not unexpected news that Kent landlord Fergus Wilson has been taken to court by the UK equality watchdog about his instruction to his agents not to let to ‘coloureds’:
“No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy.”
An injunction was requested on the basis that this is in breach of section 13 of the Equality Act 2010.
Not surprisingly the Judge awarded the injunction, despite Mr Wilson’s attempt to brush it off as ‘just a joke’.
NB I did a post on discrimination here a while back if you want to read up on the subject.
Trespass by leaflet
Another interesting decision in the courts (apparently the first of its kind) is the injunction granted to George Arkless against local agents Kings Group for delivering leaflets to his house after being asked to stop.
The main reason he asked them to stop was because the leaflets were often not pushed through the door properly which could alert criminals to the fact that he was away.
After speaking to the company personally several times, and sending emails, he finally told them that they no longer had permission to use the footpath to his front door. The leaflets continued so he took them to Court.
Successfully. Kings Group were ordered to pay £200 damages and £50 costs to Mr Arkless.
“It’s a bit of a hammer to crack a nut but I’m so fed up with these people. I’ve got a notice on my door saying ‘No Flyers’ but they still come through anyway and that’s what irritated me.”
You can read more about the case and what Kings Group had to say about it on Property Industry Eye.
I once had a ‘no leaflets’ sticker on my door but the leaflet deliverers gradually picked it off with their fingernails. However I have a large bin near the door so haven’t bothered the courts about it.
Our own Ben Reeve Lewis was featured recently in an Inside Out London program looking at microflats which at the time of writing you can find on iplayer here.
The program showed Victorian family homes being bought and subdivided into miroflats for one which are then used to house the homeless. Although the houses would not normally pass planning permission they are ‘getting away with it’ by providing a kitchen area thus making the property an HMO. (Sadly Ben was still unable to get his Charles Dickens gag into the program).
Naturally, the landlords are raking in considerably more than they would if the property were let as a family home. You and I are paying for this as the only people living there are people on benefit.
Mind you, not all micro homes are bad. Some are lovely, for example, this iKozie home being used to house a homeless teenager in Worcester.
You can see a jolly video showing some other posh micro homes here.
Universal Credit Direct Payment
At last a bit of good news connected to Universal Credit. The Government has now set up a system for landlords to claim direct payment if the tenants are having difficulty in making payment.
You will find the applicaiton form via this page.
Mind you, if you take in any sort of benefit tenant I would strongly recommend that you insist that all payments are made either via a Credit Union ‘jam jar’ account or the Tasker Payments service. You may then never need to use the government’s service.
Tenant Fee Ban
If you are not already aware that the government has published is response to the consultation for the proposed tenant fee ban and a draft bill you should be. We had an article by David Smith on this on Monday.
Agents are already getting very jittery about it. For example agents renting property to students are worrying that they may have to pay back fees taken before the ban if tenants move in after it comes into force.
The agents are calling for a timeline, but I suspect that the government has other priorities on its mind just now.
Grenfell and lack of empathy
Dawn Fosters article in the Guardian today looks at a report out which accuses Councils, in particular Kensington and Chelsea of being remote and having a lack of empathy and emotional intelligence.
Kensington and Chelsea is an extreme example of the stripped-back local government we now see across Britain. This is due not just to austerity hollowing out council accounts and making it impossible to deliver services, but also to a philosophical shift in the way councils operate. Too many have shifted from providing hands-on, local services with a high level of resident involvement, to an aloof, threadbare service that consists of both councillors and staff who eschew frontline work and meetings for a rigid managerialism and dismissal of residents as obstacles and annoyances.
I think we have all seen this in the response to the Grenfell crisis.
The Paradise Papers
I expect you have been following the revelations from the leaked ‘Paradise Papers’ from law firm Appleby.
It is clear that there is an industry – aimed at the super rich, or even just averagely rich – to avoid paying taxes. For example this article which looks at how people avoid paying property taxes.
We all knew it went on but the size of the tax avoidance (or is it evasion, I can never remember which is which) is startling. Had there been none of it, Austerity would have been unnecessary.
I was quite struck by this quote from Owen Jone’s article in the Guardian:
Lewis Hamilton was born safely in Lister Hospital in Stevenage, courtesy of the state-funded NHS. He was then educated by the state at great expense. Throughout his life, he has used state-funded roads and rail tracks, has been protected by the state’s police forces and fire brigades, and no doubt employed the services of accountants who used their state-funded university degrees to locate loopholes in the tax system for him. He has repaid his gratitude to his country by choosing to avoid paying European taxes on his £16.5m jet.
You could say the same thing about any of the UK Millionaires ‘outed’ as having been involved in this sort of scheme.
What made me smile this week
With all the dreadful news, it’s nice to escape into the Strictly world where everything’s sparkly with lovely frocks and graceful dances.
I particularly loved this dance from Davood Ghadami with his professional partner Nadiya Bychkova. AND he has no previous dance experience – unlike others on the show.