Tag Archives: landlord

Buy-to-let tycoon Fergus Wilson facing legal action after admitting he banned ‘coloured’ tenants making his homes ‘stink of curry’

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Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlord Fergus Wilson is facing legal action after defending his policy to direct his letting agents not to let his properties to “coloured” people whom he claimed make his homes “stink of curry”.

Mr Wilson refused to deny making a list of requirements for tenants in an email to a letting agent seen by the Sun newspaper. He did however say that it was “some time ago”.

Wilson, who has previous convictions for assault and who last year failed in a bid to run for the role of Kent’s police and crime commissioner, said the controversy started when he bought a house in Ashford at a discounted price because of a strong smell of curry.

“I said when I bought it that within six months it’d be sorted but we just could not get rid of the bloody smell – it absolutely stank of curry,” he told Kent News.

“The carpets had to come up and the whole job meant throwing £12,000 down the drain.”

Mr Wilson then bought another house nearby but said a mixed-race family left the house smelling of curry at the end of their tenancy.

“It was a case of once bitten, twice shy,” he said.

“Having spent six months on the first one I said ‘no I’ve have enough, I do not want to take on another house where I have to get rid of a curry smell’.

“Yes, I accept not every individual coloured person likes and eats curry but I think a high proportion do and I had to go on probabilities.

“It was done because I did not care to repeat the experiences of before.”

When challenged on the use of language many would find offensive, he responded: “I use the term ‘coloured’ because it’s quicker and easier than saying ‘people from India, people from Africa and people who are Arabic’.

“To anybody who says I’m racist, I’ve just employed a coloured person.”

“Battered-wife” letting ban

This is not the first time Mr Wilson has been in the public eye for discriminating potential tenants. In January he issued letting criteria which banned single mums, battered wives, plumbers and low income earners.

His ban on battered wives came following his attempt to run stand for election for Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner on an anti-domestic violence platform. In the end his candidacy was ruled ineligible by the election officer for his previous assault conviction. Wilson also claimed that if elected he would return illegal immigrants to France the day after they arrive in Kent.

Speaking to the Sun Wilson denied he was a racist saying “To be honest, we’re getting overloaded with coloured people. It is a problem with certain types of coloured people – those who consume curry – it sticks to the carpet. You have to get some chemical thing that takes the smell out. In extreme cases you have to replace the carpet.”

He further claimed that while he doesn’t today employ a specific policy banning “coloureds” he estimates he’s only rented to 14 mixed-race tenants over his two decades in the property business.

“As long as their money is green, we’re happy to have them,” he said.

“But if the same situation happened again tomorrow, I would say the say thing, because I was being practical.”

Discrimination investigation

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the watchdog would be investigating the comments and warning Wilson that he could face legal action.

“These are truly disgusting remarks as well as being unlawful instructions from a landlord to a letting agent,” she said. “There are still deep inequalities in our society as our race report demonstrated and these comments show why.

“As a country we all assume we have left the dark ages behind, but clearly there is more to be done. We will investigate and will be asking Mr Wilson to explain his actions. Unless we are satisfied that he will not commit unlawful acts in the future we will take legal action”.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Buy-to-let landlord court date set for 6th October

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Buy-to-let Landlords taking the government to court to challenge tax relief restrictions will have their hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday 6th October.

The group, led by the founder and chairman of Platinum Property Partners, Steve Bolton, and landlord Chris Cooper, seek to overturn former chancellor George Osborne’s decision to restrict the amount of tax relief a landlord will be able to claim on mortgage interest outlined in last year’s summer Budget.

The judicial review of Osborne’s proposals was financed by a crowdfunding campaign which followed a failed parliamentary petition to challenge the proposed tax changes.

Over £100,000 was raised by the pair who hired Omnia Strategy LLP,  the law firm  founded chaired by Cherie Blair in 2011, to act for them. At the landlord conference named the “Tenant Tax Summit” held in June to discuss the case,  Blair claimed that the former Chancellor’s tax changes warrant a judicial review since they “discriminate against landlords according to the European Convention on Human rights.”  Also speaking at the event was the Conservative Life Peer and former MP Lord Howard Flight who had written a letter to the Government “Why the Government is wrong to attack buy-to-let.”

Unless the legal challenge is successful, the government’s tax changes will come into effect in April 2017.

 

 

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Cherie Blair Speaks at Landlord Summit

cherie-blair changes to taxes on landlords breach human rights

Cherie Blair has spoken at an event organized by Landlord and letting agent groups seeking to overturn Chancellor George Osborne’s planned changes to mortgage interest relief for landlords. The Chancellor’s proposals, introduced in the 2015 Budget and Autumn statements, are intended to eliminate tax exemptions which the Treasury claims are not enjoyed by investors in other asset classes such as shares. Under the proposals, landlords operating as sole traders will be less able to deduct mortgage interest payments when calculating their tax liabilities.

Legal Challenge

Mrs Blair spoke at the event as council to a legal challenge brought against the Treasury proposals following the failure of a formal Parliamentary petition. The motion started by the Residential Landlord’s Association fell more than thirty-one thousand signatures short of the required hundred thousand to merit debate in Parliament. The failure to exert pressure on the Government using petitions led to a crowdfunding campaign by landlords to finance a legal challenge to overturn the Chancellor’s measures.

Judicial Review 

Acting as legal council to the complainants through Omnia Strategy, the law firm she founded and chaired, Mrs Blair claims that the Chancellor’s proposed changes warrant a judicial review since they discriminate against landlords according to the European Convention on Human rights. This gives one the right to hold one’s property in a way without unfair taxation. Mrs Blair also purports that the tax changes go against European Union competition laws by favoring large institutions over small individual investors.

Also speaking at the event was the Conservative Life Peer and former member of Parliament Lord Howard Flight who had written a letter to the Government “Why the Government is wrong to attack Buy-to-Let.”

The conference, titled the “Tenant Tax Summit” was held on 9th June at the ILEC Conference Center in Earl’s Court. Sponsorship was provided by various property investors and landlord’s organizations including Platinum Property Partners, Velvoir, the Humber Landlord’s Association and the Residential Landlord’s Association among others.

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Government Responds to Landlord’s Legal Challenge

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Two landlords at the center of a legal challenge to Chancellor George Osborne’s tax changes announced in last year’s budget have confirmed that two government departments had provided an “acknowledgement of service”.

The legal challenge to the Treasury’s tax changes was launched by two landlords, Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper, who used a crowdfunding platform to raise sufficient capital to employ Omnia Strategy, a legal firm founded and chaired by Cherie Blair, to seek a judicial review of the Chancellor’s measures.

The legal battle over the Chancellor’s proposed changes to Mortgage Interest Relief follows the failure of a Petition launched by the Residential Landlord’s Association to attract sufficient support to warrant debate in Parliament.

 

 

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Less than 3% of Housing Disrepair Complaints Enforced

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The lack of resources available to local authorities to deal with housing disrepair in the private letting sector was exposed yesterday in the House of Lords.

According to the Liberal Democrat Baroness Bakewell, housing complaints totaled 62,818 in 2012-13 which resulted in only 31,634 inspections by local authorities.  Astoundingly, only 1,645 improvement notices were served over the same period. The most common categories of hazards and faults identified in inspections were: damp and mould, excess cold, crowding and space, falling hazards and fire. The powerlessness of many renters is exacerbated by out-of-date legislation whereby  tenants can take action themselves only if their rent is less than £80 a year in London and £52 a year elsewhere.

These findings come as 11 million people now live in private rented accommodation in England, a figure which has almost doubled in the last decade and is set for further increases.

The Baroness claims that Parliamentary research indicated that  30% of private rented properties in England would fail the Government’s decent homes standard. This is almost double the 15% in the social rented sector. Also, despite having the lowest average property standards, the private rental sector is the most expensive housing option.  Private renters now spend an average of 47% of their income on rent compared with 23% of the income of people with a mortgage and 32% of the income for those in the social rented sector.

The Baroness’ comments were made during a committee reading of the Housing and Planning Bill which would establish a database of rogue landlords and letting agents and strengthen the enforcement of pre-existing legislation in the private rental sector among other measures.

 

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Landlord’s Association Tax Petition Fails to Gain Support

Reverse-the-planned-tax-relief-restriction-on-individual-landlords-PetitionsA move by a landlord’s organization, the Residential Landlord’s Association to overturn Chancellor George Osborne’s changes to landlord tax exemptions suffered a serious blow as its Parliament petition failed to attract sufficient support.

The petition, “Reverse the planned tax relief restriction on ‘individual landlords’” expired today without  reaching the required number of 100,000 signatures necessary to be considered for debate in Parliament closing with only 60,894 signatures.

Begun six months ago, the motion sought to challenge Chancellor George Osborne’s reduction of Mortgage Interest Relief announced in his 2015 Summer Budget and Autumn Statement.  However, enough support was obtained to warrant an official statement on the topic whereby the Government rejected claims that the proposed tax changes were unfair. In it’s response the Government added that the tax amendments were partly intended to reduce the tax advantages offered to property investors which were not shared by investors in other assets such as shares. The Government also claimed that only 18 percent of landlords are expected to be affected by the changes which are to be introduced gradually over four years beginning in 2017.

The petition’s sponsors, the Residential Landlord’s Association claimed that the tax changes were unfair and likely to result in higher rents for tenants as landlords seek to offset higher costs by increasing rents.

It is understood that some landlord groups are now seeking a judicial review of the Chancellor’s tax changes.

 

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Landlords Take Court Action as Parliament Petition Fails

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Two property developers, Steve Bolton, Chairman of Platinum Property Partners, and Chris Cooper are have raised £50,000 through a Twitter crowdfunding campaign to challenge Chancellor George Osborne’s planned tax changes for landlords. Under the Chancellor’s proposals, landlords operating as sole traders would no longer to be able to claim Mortgage Interest Relief when calculating their taxes.

Bolton and Cooper began fundraising towards the end of a Parliamentary Petition launched by the Residential Landlords Association titled: “Reverse the planned tax relief restriction on ‘individual landlords’ which argued that the Chancellor’s plans were unfair to private landlords and may result in higher tenant rents.

The Residential Landlord’s Association petition attracted 60,894 signatures, well short of the required 100,000 necessary for the motion to be considered for debate in Parliament which may leave Court action the only option to challenge the proposed tax changes. The motion did however receive enough support to merit an official response from the Government reiterating the Treasury’s support for implementation of the Chancellor’s measures.  In its response the Government claimed that the tax changes were fair and merely removed tax exemptions for property investors which are not enjoyed by those in other asset classes.

Speaking about the Chancellor’s plans, Bolton stated “It’s not clear why the government has chosen to just launch an attack on buy-to-let owner-operators with mortgages. It’s a tax from Alice in Wonderland – truly absurd and divorced from real life. Not only is this tax grab unfair, undemocratic and underhanded, but we believe that it could also be unlawful.”

It is believed that the pair have sought legal advice matter from Omnia Strategy, a legal firm founded and chaired by Cherie Blair.

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Government Responds to Landlord Tax Petition

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The Government has officially responded to a Parliament petition launched by the Residential Landlord’s Association. The petition seeks to challenge Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to reduce landlords’ ability to offset mortgage interest payments from their tax liabilities which were announced in the 2015 Summer Budget and Autumn Statement.

The petition titled “Reverse the planned tax relief restriction on ‘individual’ landlords” claimed that the Chancellor’s proposals to limit Mortgage Interest Relief for landlords operating as sole traders  would unfairly impact their ability to conduct their business. Moreover the lobbyists claim that such restrictions are not denied to sole traders in other industries.

The Government responded officially after the motion obtained more than ten thousand signatures stating that it is committed to a fair tax system so it is “restricting tax relief landlords can claim on property finance costs to the basic rate of income tax.” Furthermore, the government asserts that the ability to reduce tax liabilities by offsetting mortgage interest and other finance costs against their property income is not available to ordinary homebuyers and those investing in other assets such as shares.

“By restricting finance cost relief available to the basic rate of income tax (20%) all finance costs incurred by individual landlords will be treated the same by the tax system. This recognizes the benefits to the economy that investment in property can bring but ensures the landlords with the largest incomes will no longer benefit from higher rates of tax relief.”

The government also states that the measures will only be introduced gradually over four years starting in April 2017 which will give landlords sufficient time to adapt to the new rules.

According to petition guidelines, a motion will be considered for debate in Parliament if it achieves over one hundred thousand signatures.

 

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