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If You Think Our Housing Laws Are Crass Try Being A Landlord In Germany

If You Think Our Housing Laws Are Crass Try Being A Landlord In Germany

If You Think Our Housing Laws Are Crass
Try Being A Landlord In Germany

There are always plenty of stories in the media about landlords and letting agents and their idiosyncratic practices, but a recent news article about a German landlord published in The Telegraph and picked up by LandlordToday.com really does take the p**s!

UK landlords have faced a great deal of criticism for reasonably, and in some cases unreasonably, withholding a tenants’ deposit for all kinds of damage caused to rental property by tenants but now a German landlord has ended up in court for trying to claim damage to a bathroom floor caused by a tenant’s urine.

The landlord had withheld €1,900, equivalent to around £1,400 (GBP) from the tenant’s €3,000 deposit for damage allegedly caused to a marble floor in the bathroom of a rental property by a male tenant missing the toilet bowl while urinating standing up.

The tenant sued his landlord after the refusal to pay back the €1,900 claimed for damages to the marble floor but the judge ruled that the tenant had the right to take care of business standing up.

The landlord had brought in a “technical expert“, who had the unenviable task of confirming that wayward droplets were indeed the cause of the damage to the marble tiles.

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Landlord Fined For Unreasonable Delay On Repairs

Landlord Fined For Unreasonable Delay On Repairs

Landlord Fails To Conduct Repairs And Is Fined Over Delay

A landlord in Northumberland has been fined £2,000 (GBP) by Sunderland Magistrates Court for failing to carry out rental property repairs within a reasonable timescale.

Mr Brij Bushan Chowdhry was fined £1,000 (GBP) plus £900 (GBP) costs and a £100 (GBP) victim surcharge for failing to comply with the terms of a Housing Act Improvement Notice served on one of his properties.

Complaints about the disrepair of the rental property were first made by Mr Chowdhry’s tenants back in September 2010 and the property was subsequently visited by housing officers and a list of essential repairs was passed to Mr Chowdhry, however, the repairs were not carried out.

Sunderland City Council served a formal improvement notice to Mr Chowdhry in October 2012 but he again failed to act.

Sunderland City Councillor Graeme Miller said: “We work closely with private landlords to provide them with what help and support we can to maintain their properties, but will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to do so wherever necessary. Sunderland City Council will prosecute poor landlords who fail to co-operate with us in eliminating poor standards of accommodation in our communities. All tenants have the right to expect to live in safe, secure and healthy housing and we will continue to work with private landlords to ensure that right is respected.” 

This story seems very one sided, however there is little point in landlords ignoring either tenant requests for repairs or formal improvement notices served by county councils because as the above report shows, the landlord will lose. What is worse is that without repairs being done the damage will get worse and the costs to make good any damage will increase, so swift action may have a cost implication but failing to do anything will be far more expensive in the long run.

But, what if these requests were not ignored?

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Landlord Details Must Be Included In Prescribed Information

Landlord Details Must Be Included In Prescribed Information

All UK Landlord details should be correct
before being included in Prescribed Information

The information must be included, even when the rental property is fully managed by a managing agent, to avoid any possible legal problems with tenancy deposits.

Linda Howard, of Shoosmiths solicitors has warned that individual judges could make different interpretations on the wording of requirements after the news that a possession order was overturned because the legally required Prescribed Information gave the letting agent’s details instead of the landlords.

She said: “The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order (2007) seems to make it clear, at 2, (g) (iii) that the name, address, telephone number and any email address or fax number of the landlord, not the agent, must be given.”

Ms Howard also pointed out that in another case in the county court, a duty solicitor raised exactly the point of an agent’s rather than the landlord’s details being given and the judge subsequently adjourned those proceedings because of seeming non-compliance with the Prescribed Information Order. However, the case went through on the second hearing because the landlord argued that Rules of Agency applied.

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Tenant Damage can be costly

Tenants may cause serious damage to rental property

Who pays for repairing the damage at a rental property can depend on what exactly has gone wrong.

Landlords are responsible for damage to the fabric of the property, such as, missing roof slates causing damp, broken down boilers and leaks and all landlords should have suitable Buy-To-Let insurance in place to cover the costs of repairs.

Tenants may also have to put their hands in their pockets if the landlord considers damage to fixtures and fittings is beyond normal wear and tear. Ie. The day-to-day deterioration of a property, like scuffs to the decor, carpets wearing and screws coming loose. There are suitable insurance policies out there specifically for tenants.

A fairly high proportion of Tenancy Deposit disputes relate to disagreements about what exactly comes under the definition of normal wear and tear.

Landlords need to make this call, and be prepared to back their judgment with evidence if required to do so at independent adjudication should a tenant lodge a complaint against having money deducted from the deposit.

Normal wear and tear is not defined in law, but the definition comes from years of rulings in disputed cases before the courts.

A judge or adjudicator is likely to consider normal wear and tear as damage or deterioration to a property arising from normal usage.

That triggers a debate about normal usage, which varies from case to case. For example, normal usage in a family home with a couple of toddlers is vastly different to that in a property lived in by a single pensioner.

• Normal wear and tear may include – finger marks near electrical sockets and switches; scuffs on doors and walls; tack holes; faded or peeling paint or faded soft furnishings
• Damage may include – writing or drawing on walls; holes in walls or woodwork; nail holes that need filling and repainting; carpet stains; burn marks; ripped soft furnishings or missing fittings.

Problems arise if the tenant’s deposit is not enough to cover the landlords cost of cleaning and repairs.

Often a tenant who mistreats a buy to let property is likely to have rent arrears as well and the landlord may be forced to go through the eviction process and get the tenant out before repairs can be started .

Mark Lawton, 45, from Town Moor in Doncaster, who acquired a £2million property portfolio, including luxury properties in Tenerife and across South Yorkshire, through fraud has been jailed for two years at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.

Investigations revealed that Mark Lawton, 45, from Town Moor in Doncaster had committed a series of frauds from which he amassed a significant property portfolio. He owned 17 properties in Tenerife and across Doncaster, which were rented out, but for which he didn’t declare any profits. He also lied about his financial circumstances to obtain a loan by deception, as well as providing false income details in order to claim the education maintenance allowance for his son.

Although Lawton also owned the extensive property portfolio he had claimed that his family’s small tanning salon business only made him an income of around £10,000 per year. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimate that Lawton had defrauded the taxpayer out of £65,000 in unpaid taxes alone.

Lawton was caught when HMRC seized 10,000 illegal cigarettes which he had been selling and £50,000 in cash stored at his home and business premises. He was found guilty of fraud and failing to pay tax on his business profits.

Lawton pleaded guilty to charges of cheating the public revenue, evasion of excise duty and possession of criminal property (£50,000 cash). He was sentenced yesterday to 24 months imprisonment for cheating the public revenue, three months imprisonment for the evasion of excise duty – sentences to run concurrently. £50,420 cash was forfeited to the Crown for the charge of possession of criminal property. Lawton was also ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.

Lawton’s wife Christina was convicted of fraudulently claiming the education maintenance allowance for their children. The couple’s accountant Joanne Outram, 42, from Rossington was also convicted of helping the couple to prepare false documentation, to facilitate their claim for the education maintenance allowance payments.

Peter Hollier, Deputy Regional Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:

“Lawton made a significant effort to hide his business dealings from the authorities. He enjoyed the benefits of our public services and lived a lifestyle that many families work hard to achieve, but his activity was stealing vital public revenue. It is only fair to those hard working families that he has been brought to justice.”

Sentencing Mark Lawton yesterday His Honour Judge Kelson QC commented: “You and your wife were living well beyond your declared means. What you declared to the Revenue was far short of the correct figure – therefore you were enjoying a better lifestyle than that of honest people.”

The Judge also passed comment sentencing the couple’s accountant Joanne Outram stating: “You are a qualified accountant, a professional person and you did this for personal gain by keeping the custom of your client. The involvement by professional people by making claims on the state erodes the public confidence.”

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