Tag Archives: landlords

Sheffield Landlord with two previous criminal convictions for harassing tenants again found guilty of harassment

judge

A buy-to-let landlord in Sheffield with two previous convictions for harassment has been ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid community service for harassing a tenant and failing to adequately manage his property. Nilendu Das, of Carterknowle Avenue, who was convicted at Sheffield’s Magistrates Court, was also been ordered to pay £2,412 in court costs, fines and compensation.

The court heard how on one occasion Das sent ten text messages in a three minute period to one of his tenants. On another occasion, 15 messages were sent to the tenant in one the day, which included a text informing the tenant that he must vacate the property.

In addition to the harassment charge,  Das also pleaded guilty to four health and safety breaches relating to the property on Sackville Road, Sheffield. The court heard that there were damaged fire doors, an unprotected means of fire escape and faulty fire alarm systems.

Well known in Sheffield housing circles, Mr Das has previous convictions for harassment in February 2012 and August 2013 with the latter resulting in a 49 day prison sentence. Das was also convicted of failing to comply with a council improvement notice and failure to adequately manage properties.

During his 2013 trial, it was revealed that Mr Das sent his son to private school while falsely claiming £17,000 in council tax benefit and Job seeker’s allowance over two years. At the same time his tenants were forced to live in properties with mouldy walls, broken doors and lack of insulation.

Das was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison for fraud for four failures to comply with improvement notices and harassing a former tenant. While awaiting sentencing, Das was also serving a suspended prison sentence for changing the locks at the flat of another tenant who had complained his home was unsafe. Das had written into his tenancy agreements any tenant who complained would be charged £350.

In his defense Das’s lawyer claimed that his client had ‘got lost in a fog of figures’. “This is a man who operates with an IQ of one, only just above the base line.”

Speaking about Das’ latest conviction, Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “This case is serious. The landlord has been convicted twice before for similar offences and he knows how strictly the court treats these matters.

“We don’t just investigate issues where we hear about tenants being threatened or evicted illegally. As this case shows, we also prosecute when there is lower-level harassment and when the landlord acts in a way which is outside the law.

“Everyone deserves to live in safe, good quality housing regardless of whether they rent or own their home. I am determined to carry on clamping down on the very small minority of bad landlords in Sheffield that treat their tenants badly and tarnish the private rented sector.”

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

Share this article

Britain’s biggest landlord bans ‘battered wives’ and zero hours workers as tenants

Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith CREDIT: REX FEATURES
Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith CREDIT: REX FEATURES

Britain’s biggest landlord, Fergus Wilson has banned “battered wives” from his properties claiming he does not want to risk ex-husbands or boyfriends returning to destroy his houses.

Perhaps Britain’s most notorious buy-to-let landlord, Wilson is no stranger to controversy.  In 2014 he sent eviction notices to over 200 of his tenants, many from low income backgrounds, claiming that he was “sending battered wives back to their partners to be beaten up again”.  He was also convicted in the same year for assaulting an estate agent over a broken boiler which he denied, claiming that he was “too fat to punch anybody or even tie his own shoelaces”.

Posted for residents of Ashford (Kent), the list of unacceptable tenants include:

  • Zero hours workers
  • Battered wives
  • Tenants on housing benefits
  • Tenants with children under 18
  • Single parents
  • Plumbers
  • Smokers
  • People with pets
  • Low income workers

Despite Mr and Mrs Wilson’s estimated wealth of £200 million, the couple are known for penny-pinching. In 2014 Fergus Wilson lost a court battle to charge a tenant £3,000 for a broken toilet lid even though the tenant had offered to replace it out of his own pocket. Judith Wilson is also believed to owe £3,000 in court costs after a failed attempt to sue a gas engineer for £5,000. The Wilsons had claimed that the engineer’s decision to issue an “At Risk” notice on gas equipment in one of their properties had made the house unrentable. Such considerations factored into Fergus’ decision to ban plumbers as tenants in his latest letting criteria since he believes they “rip him off” about repairs and “invent” problems with the properties which he says they bill him for.

Sign up to the Renters Alliance newsletter

<--SIGNUP EMAIL FORM-->

Fergus Wilson’s ban of domestic abuse victims comes after the 69-year old’s unsuccessful bid  to stand as an independent candidate for Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner last year which was blocked  for incorrect submission of nomination papers. It was also expected that Wilson’s candidature would be deemed ineligible for a conviction of assault for which he was fined £500. Wilson, who planned to stand as an independent, intended to run on a platform of tackling domestic violence saying that he was particularly concerned by two domestic abuse cases involving Kent Police and would have used his £85,000 salary to fund a rapid-response team of four officers.

Commenting on the tenancy rules Fergus said the criteria are revised every year and are concerned with “financial fine tuning of the business” adding: “it is just economics… I live in the big bad world of reality, if I do not let properties and do not get the rent then I do not eat, I starve to death… it is the Government’s job to help poor people.”

Share this article

Renters may face higher lettings fees under right to rent rules

Right to Rent

Last week the government tightened its Right to Rent rules, making it a criminal offence for a landlord to let to anyone they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, is an illegal immigrant. Previously breaches of this law were sanctioned by civil penalties. However as of 1st December the penalty for failing to check a tenant’s right to rent is a criminal offense which may risk a prison sentence. 

Under the Rent to Right policy, landlords must check that their tenants can legally rent a property. Tenants must produce a document, such as a passport or a certificate of naturalisation, to prove their Right to Rent.Under the new rules, landlords could also receive government notices to terminate tenancies for people disqualified from renting. In such circumstances renters may face eviction without a court order.

This policy has serious ramifications for renters. According to a survey conducted by the housing charity Shelter, 44% of landlords said the policy would make them less likely to rent to people who appear to be immigrants, with similar numbers saying the same about people without a British passport.

In addition to potential discrimination , reports exist of letting agents charging prospective tenants additional agency fees to conduct Right to Rent checks.

In 2015 a Home Office evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme  found that some landlords were charging a fee which ranged from £10 to £120 to carry out immigration checks which the government estimates would take around five minutes to complete.  The Right to Rent policy must be applied to all tenants and by law, landlords must check that every tenant has the right to rent in the UK which could lead to increased lettings fees for tenants.

Although the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement announced plans to ban lettings agent fees, there is an important window where landlords and letting agents can pass on the enhanced Right to Rent checks to tenants.  Renters should therefore be vigilant that they check the amount charged by landlords for administration fees before the letting fee ban officially comes into force.

 

Share this article

Buy-to-let landlord group represented by Cherie Blair loses court tax challenge

Cherie Blair Royal Court Justice landlord group

A landlord lobby group represented by Cherie Blair have seen a legal challenge to restrictions on buy-to-let tax relief dismissed at the Royal Courts of Justice today.

The landlord coalition called “Axe the Tenant Tax” was refused permission by a senior judge to seek a judicial review of tax changes announced by former Chancellor George Osborne in 2015 which are set to be introduced in April 2017. Under the proposed tax changes (Section 24 of the Finance (No 2) Act 2015) individual landlords with mortgages will be required to pay tax on turnover rather than the profit.

Represented by Omnia Strategy LLP,  the law firm  founded chaired by Cherie Blair in 2011, the group claimed that the tax changes were “unlawful, unreasonable and discriminatory” because they did not also apply to corporate landlords.

Mrs. Blair has previously claimed that the proposed tax changes would be challenged since they would “discriminate against landlords according to the European Convention on Human rights.” Speaking during today’s hearing, Mrs. Blair stated that the tax proposals would “unfairly result in cuts in income for ‘hard-working members of the public’ who had bought properties to rent in order to supplement their savings at a time when interest rates were low.”

Mr Justice Dingemans ruled that the legal challenge would fail rejecting claims that the changes would be contrary to EU legislation and anti-discrimination laws.  The judge added that the extent to which corporate bodies should be treated differently to individuals when it came to tax laws “raises political and economic questions, but not in this instance a legal one.”

In response to today’s court defeat, the landlord group remained defiant. In a joint statement lead claimants Steve Bolton, founder of Platinum Property Partners, and fellow landlord Chris Cooper claimed that the extra costs incurred by landlord due to the tax changes would be passed on to tenants through higher rents.

“We are outraged by the court’s decision. It has completely missed the opportunity to protect tenants, landlords and the housing market from the disastrous consequences of Section 24. From April 2017 the negative impact of this previously failed tax experiment from Ireland, where rents increased by 50% over a three year period, will be felt far and wide. Sadly it will be tenants who are hit hardest; they are set to see unprecedented rent increases over the coming months and years, which will be a very clear and direct consequence of this ludicrous legislation.”

Despite the failure of a previous Parliamentary petition and today’s defeat, Mrs. Blair said that the coalition would fight on and “engage with the Government” more directly over the issue.

Share this article

Britain’s Biggest Landlord Feels Brexit Pinch

fergus-wilson

Britain’s biggest landlord Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith Wilson have been caught up in the rout of the British Housing sector following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union last Thursday.

The Wilsons who aggressively built a property portfolio since the early nineties, have been trying to sell their £250 million property portfolio of around 900 houses to a collection of foreign buyers and wealthy individuals. However, the Daily Telegraph claimed that Mr Wilson is seeing the cancellation of many sales following Thursday’s Brexit vote.

The Wilsons are perhaps models for Britain’s buy-to-let frenzy and are no strangers to controversy. In 2009, Judith Wilson saw a court case thrown out by a judge for demanding £3,000 for a new bathroom suite from a tenant who had damaged a cistern lid which the tenant offered to replace. In a written judgment, Judge Christopher Cagney branded the claim “exaggerated”, and said he “had doubts” that work to replace the bathroom suite would ever be carried out. Mr Wilson was also found guilty in 2014 of assaulting an estate agent when a boiler in one of his properties failed to work despite a court plea that he was “too fat to hit anyone”. Earlier in January of that year Wilson sent eviction notices to every tenant that received housing benefit saying he had lost around £800,000 because of them.

Undeterred by the market turmoil caused by the Brexit vote, Mr Wilson claims that buy-to-let investors will become richer as Britain leaves the European Union because tighter immigration policies proposed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are “likely to improve the quality of tenants.”

According to Mr Wilson: “Ten years ago I housed a lot of single mums and battered wives who were a good category of tenant. They were pretty good at paying the money and looking after the houses. But then in about 2005 the eastern Europeans started coming and they made really good tenants. I haven’t advertised a property for five years because they always ask – can my friend move in?”

Despite the Wilson’s optimism, the housing sector was one of the worst affected industries following Britain’s decision to reject EU membership with shares in housing giants Taylor Wimpey, Redrow and Bovis Homes Group each down around 30% since the vote.

Share this article

Landlords Petition Parliament to Pay Less Tax

Reverse-the-planned-tax-relief-restriction-on-individual-landlords-Petitions

A landlord’s group has begun a parliament petition to challenge Chancellor  George Osbourne’s plans to reduce Mortgate Interest Relief. According to the Chancellor’s proposals,, announced in his 2015 Summer Budget and reiterated in the Autumn statement that year, landlords operating as sole traders would no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments to reduce their tax liabilities.

The petition launched by the Residential Landlord’s Association claims that the proposed tax changes will increase costs for landlords and tenants as landlords seek to offset higher tax liabilities by increasing rents. The Association also claims that a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies released in response to the budget indicates that individual landlords are taxed more heavily than other homeowners even before the Chancellor’s proposed changes come into effect in 2017.

The petition titled: “Reverse the planned tax relief restriction on ‘individual’ landlords” also claims that landlords operating as sole traders incur costs i.e. mortgage interest in the course of operating their business.  The Residential Landlord’s Association, RLA,  claims that Osborne’s measures will unfairly target such landlords since they would be unable to offset costs in the same manner as sole traders operating in other sectors.  The RLA claims that the tax changes will not affect large institutional landlords and companies which buy their properties in cash.  Other campaigners however claim that buy-to-let is offered significant tax advantages compared with investors in other assets such as shares.

In order to warrant consideration for debate in Parliament, a formal government petition requires a hundred thousand signatures and ten thousand for the government to respond officially.  The petition deadline is 27th January 2016.

 

 

Share this article