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Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Lawful Tenants Refused Rental Properties
Because Of Right To Rent Immigration Checks

Right to Rent immigration checks could cause more UK private rented sector (PRS) landlords to refuse tenancy applications from lawful tenants because they are over cautious about letting to tenants with foreign accents and names or have unfamiliar identity documents.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, (RLA), the complexity of the Government’s plans to turn landlords into unpaid Border Agency staff could see lawful tenants being refused housing.

The warning comes as new research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) indicates the difficulties caused by the Government’s Right to Rent scheme, originally piloted in the West Midlands, concluding that UK PRS landlords Right to Rent checks have resulted in discrimination against tenants who appear “foreign”.

The JCWI research discovered that:

  • 42% of landlords were less likely to consider tenant applications from someone who did not have a British passport,
  • 27% of landlords were reluctant to engage with tenancy applications from people with foreign accents or names

Under the new immigration bill, PRS landlords are set to be legally responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants. Following the pilot scheme in the West Midlands, the Government recently announced that the immigration checks by landlords would be expanded nationwide, with landlords facing up to five years in prison for failure to undertake the Right to Rent checks.

Residential Landlords Association policy director, David Smith, said: “Whilst the RLA opposes discrimination against tenants because of their race or nationality, the Government’s plans are causing confusion and anxiety for many landlords. If the Government expect landlords to act as border police it should provide the training and material needed to give them the confidence to carry out the checks required of them. In the absence of such support, today’s research sadly shows the inevitable consequences of the policy which the RLA has long voiced concerns about. Faced with considerable sanctions, landlords will inevitably play it safe where a tenant’s identity documents are either unclear or simply not known to them. It is concerning that the Government remains committed to rolling out the Right to Rent policy nationwide without first publishing its assessment of the impact it has had in its own pilot area. Ministers should halt plans to proceed with its rollout to allow time for proper scrutiny and consideration of the impact it is likely to have.”

The research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants comes before the publication of the Home Office’s own assessment of the Right to Rent pilot scheme detailing its level of effectiveness.

There seems to be a huge communication breakdown somewhere, we as landlords are now unpaid members of the UK Border Agency, like it or not, we mustn’t discriminate against any tenant applicant because it is an “ism” and can be punished by imprisonment and a large fine, however, if we house someone in need, we leave ourselves open to prosecution and a large fine. If we act in a professional manner, we are accused of not caring, but if we have too much contact with tenants we are seen as overbearing and interfering. If we spend money on properties we are seen as rich money grabbers that are open to exploitation and if we don’t spend vast amounts to correct damage caused by tenant lifestyles as and when tenants demand then we are called tight and heartless. Homeless charities want the UK PRS closed down, the Government want as much of our profits as they can get their hands on and the media think we are all descendants of Rachman and Rigsby – How is the system supposed to work?

Failed Warrington Letting Agent Rips Off Landlords

Failed Warrington Letting Agent Rips Off Landlords

Warrington Letting Agent Closes Owing ~
Landlords Thousands Of Pounds

Aspire Lettings based on Padgate Business Park in Warrington, Cheshire have vanished leaving more than 200 landlords without thousands of pounds in rental payments.

Landlords are still waiting to receive rental payments from Aspire Lettings, and they have tried to contact the owner of the company, Becky Westby, on numerous occasions, via telephone and email, but have been unable to get anywhere.

Any landlords using Aspire lettings in Warrington (Company number 09042816) should contact their tenants immediately and stop any further rental payments being made to Becky Westby and Aspire Lettings in Warrington and make alternative arrangements.

Affected landlords are also being encouraged to contact The Property Ombudsman and their local trading standards offices.

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Bank Of Scotland Accused Of Mortgage Fraud

Bank Of Scotland Accused Of Mortgage Fraud

Northern Ireland Attorney General Accuses Bank Of Scotland Of Committing Mortgage Fraud

John Larkin QC, Northern Ireland’s Attorney General, has accused the Bank of Scotland of committing mortgage fraud in relation to the way that the bank has treated customers who fell behind on their residential property mortgages.

An earlier court hearing had previously ruled that the Bank of Scotland had unfairly re-billed some of their own customers who had fallen into arrears with their mortgage payments.

The Bank of Scotland had decided to appeal the verdict of the earlier court hearing but decided to drop that appeal on Monday morning. The Bank of Scotland then rejected Mr Larkin’s claims, saying it strongly takes issue with the allegations.

A barrister for the bank, Stephen Shaw QC, said Mr Larkin’s view of mortgage fraud was “based on a misapprehension”.

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Beware Of Rental Properties Being Turned Into Cannabis Farms

Beware Of Rental Properties Being Turned Into Cannabis Farms

New Government Guide On Cannabis Farms Launched

The UK Government have launched yet another guide for landlords and their appointed lettings and property management agents warning of the consequences of investment properties being used as cannabis farms.

The launch of the new Home Office Cannabis Farm guide comes as the number of cannabis plants seized by UK police forces across the UK in the past two years exceeds 1 Million.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have stated that its landlord advice team have received calls from a high proportion of private rental sector landlord members who have been affected by criminal activity in their rental properties by drug gangs using them as cannabis farms.

Among a number of concerns that the RLA have is that private landlords can be affected on multiple levels;

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UK’s Biggest Ever Female Fraudster Jailed

A female property investor, who posed as an a South African heiress to build up a portfolio of luxury properties in London, was jailed for nine years on the 9th November, after being caught with thousands of fake identity documents.

Female Fraudster gets 6 year sentence for multi million property & mortgage fraud

Female Fraudster gets 6 year sentence for multi million property & mortgage fraud

Mauritian-born serial con artist, Maria Michaela, was convicted for defrauding high street banks of almost £15 Million (GBP) in mortgages, making her the UK’s largest ever female fraudster.

Her main accomplice, Mary-Jane Rathie, a Chelsea-based surveyor, was given a six-year prison sentence after being found guilty of overvaluing properties that Michaela was purchasing in exclusive prime central London locations, including Chelsea and Belgravia, with some valuations reportedly double their true worth.

Other accomplices, Stephen Hunter-Scott, Guy Steel and Saba Humadi, who were involved in other property scams worth approximately £2 Million (GBP), also appeared with Michaela in the dock at Harrow Crown Court.

Hunter-Scott and Guy Steel were sentenced to six and four year prison terms respectively while Humadi was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.

Detective Inspector Andy Fife of City of London police told the press, “We think she (Michaela, whose real name is believed to be Bruna Louise) is the UK’s biggest ever female fraudster. We have not had any female previously commit fraud on this scale before. Maria Michaela created a web of deception that duped banks into handing over vast sums of money and then perpetuated her crimes by assuming a new alias to try and secure more loans. False identities and a corrupt property surveyor were the tools she used to make millions, turning herself into one of the, if not the, most prolific female fraudster the UK has ever seen

Harrow crown court was told that Michaela had used a number of fake identities to secure four loans totalling £10.5 Million (GBP) from HBOS bank with a view to acquiring eight properties. She also managed to obtain £2.5 Million (GBP) from the Royal Bank of Scotland to acquire five more homes.

Michaela, who will be deported after her release from jail, admitted to eight counts of fraud, had defaulted on the loans and vanished with the money until she was caught and arrested in January this year. However, millions of pounds of stolen money have yet to be recovered.

Jailing her last week, Judge Graham Arran said, “You were a very experienced, highly skilled and exceptionally well-equipped fraudster.”

Chelsea-based property surveyor and accomplice, Mary-Jane Rathie, was convicted and jailed for six years at the Old Bailey last year after being bribed by Michaela.

Rathie received £910,000 (GBP) in cash, a £143,000 (GBP) Bentley Continental and a £49,000 (GBP) Range Rover Sport, to significantly overvalue a house in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, South West London. The property was valued by Rathie at £6 Million (GBP), with a rental value of £270,000 (GBP) per year (4.5% gross rental yield), but the property was actually worth £3.5 Million (GBP) with a rental income of £180,000 (GBP), giving a 5.1% gross rental return.

Read the full BBC article here

Major clampdown launched on ‘beds in sheds’

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

UK Government act to end bad practices of rogue landlords

Prior to the Government reshuffle, ministers last week launched a major clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to suburban shanty towns that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.

Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green, (who have since been replaced by Mark Frisk and Mark Harper respectively) launched new guidance for local authorities making clear the wide range of powers at their ministerial disposal to shut down so-called ‘beds in sheds’ that blight entire neighbourhoods and take action against other bad practices by rogue landlords such as overcrowding and poor maintenance.

Mr Shapps in his then post as housing minister and Mr Green as the then immigration minister saw the evidence for themselves when they attended an early morning visit on a suspected rogue landlord’s properties, and witnessed the squalid conditions the so called tenants lived in, despite paying the landlords hundreds of pounds a week.

While visiting six properties, officials from Ealing Council and the UK Border Agency encountered 39 individual tenants, 22 of whom were illegal immigrants:

  • Of those 22 illegal immigrants encountered, 19 were detained (3 were required to report to a Reporting Centre because they were a couple with a young child);
  • Of those 22 encountered, 14 were found in the outhouses (this includes two adults with a young child). The remainder were found in the houses;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 16 were Indian nationals and 3 were Pakistani nationals;
  • Of those 19 detainees, 9 entered the country without leave, 8 were overstayers, one was a failed asylum seeker and one was working in breach of his visa conditions.

    Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

    Ex Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Ex Immigration Minister Damian Green outside a rogue landlords property

Power to tackle rogue landlords

The new guidance highlights the range of actions councils can take to clamp down on rogue landlords once and for all. These include:

  • Proactively identifying problem properties and effectively working through complaints;
  • Taking action using a full range of legal powers to stop rogue landlord activities;
  • Working with other organisations including the police and UK Border Agency to tackle linked criminal behaviour;
  • Prosecuting rogue landlords who persistently let illegal property;
  • Providing evidence of landlord’s earnings to magistrates to ensure they receive an appropriate level of fine for offences;
  • Naming and shaming prosecuted landlords by publicising successful cases;
  • Working with the new national taskforce which has been set up between Whitehall departments, the police, the UK Border Agency and local government. The taskforce is exploring all possible options for closing down ‘beds in sheds’.

Thousands of sheds and outbuildings have been being rented out illegally to vulnerable migrants by ruthless rogue landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

These tenants can often find it difficult to return home quickly with some having destroyed their passports to avoid removal often leaving them to either live in these outbuildings or face living on the streets.

Outgoing Housing Minister Shapps said: “It’s simply unacceptable that people are living in squalid, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords more interested in a quick profit rather than their basic responsibilities. The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working and benefit fraud and creates a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as community relations. I want to see all agencies from local authorities, the police and the UK Border Agency using the full range of powers at their disposal to work together on a national clampdown towards ridding our communities of this problem once and for all.”

Whilst former Immigration Minister Green said: “Operations like this show our determination to do whatever is necessary, working alongside local authorities and police, to enforce our laws against those who are in the UK illegally. The UK Border Agency continues to gather intelligence about those illegally in the country. Those with no right to be in the UK must leave the country. If they need help to leave the country voluntarily we will offer it but if they refuse we will enforce there removal.”

The latest guidance is backed up by the recent allocation of £1.8 Million (GBP) to local authorities earlier this year to tackle the issue and flush out rogue landlords renting out ‘beds in sheds’.

The Government have stated that they are commited to targeting rogue landlords and any change in ministerial representation will not affect their policy on this or any other matter.

The full report can be downloaded here

A convicted mortgage fraudster has been ordered to repay over £9 Million (GBP), in what is the largest ever confiscation of assets by a UK police force.

Jean-Paul Bestel pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud in September 2010 and was sentenced to three years imprisonment in March 2011, although he has since been released.

The fraudster, who owns a portfolio of around 70 buy to let properties, was ordered to pay £9,427,123 by Maidstone Crown Court after it was found that he benefitted from his criminal activity by the same amount.

Kent Police have used “The Proceeds of Crime Act”, to order Bestel to pay back the full sum, within six months, or serve a further ten years in jail.

Detective Inspector Mark Fairhurst commented on the case stating: “This demonstrates the committed approach of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate in ensuring criminals do not benefit from the proceeds of their criminality. Offenders will be pursued even when released from prison to ensure their assets are taken from them.”

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