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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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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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Superstrike Case Causes Confusion

Superstrike Case Causes Confusion

Lord Justice Lloyd delivered judgement on an appeal from Wandsworth County Court for the case of Superstrike Ltd v Marino Rodrigues on the 14th June 2013 and since then conflicting advice has been offered by different landlord associations.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) told its members that they will be issuing updates shortly, after they have sought advice from its deposit protection partner the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

By contrast, the National Landlords Association (NLA), who have business links with MyDeposits and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) have condemned the speculation and online reporting of the case.

The NLA issued advice to members stating that the Superstrike case also only relates to landlords within a particular timeframe, who used Section 21 notices. In reality the case will have little effect on landlords and insist that the ruling only pertains to tenancies started before April 6, 2007, and which have subsequently become periodic.

The NLA are discussing the matter with officials responsible for tenancy deposit protection (TDP) legislation within the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and legal professionals.

It is important to understand that appeal judges only consider the case presented to them, not a similar set of circumstances, or a variation on a theme.

The precedent they set is therefore only applicable to cases subject to the same set of circumstances. This fact is crucial in this instance as the case of Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues is not representative of all landlords or private tenancies.

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NLA and UKALA Call For Clarity Over Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA and UKALA Call For Clarity Over Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA And UKALA Call For Clarity Over
Tenancy Deposit Protection Law

NLA / UKALA press release:

The National Landlords Association (NLA) and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) are jointly calling for clarity amid speculation about the impact of the recent Court of Appeal judgement in the case between Superstrike Ltd and Marino Rodrigues.

The judgement of 14 June 2013 is the latest in a long line of appeal cases to cast doubt on landlords’ responsibility to protect tenants’ deposits.

In the case of Superstrike Ltd and Marino Rodrigues, the Lord Justice Lloyd’s conclusion has raised significant questions about the status of long-term periodic tenancies which began prior to the introduction of tenancy deposit protection (TDP).

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said: “It is understandable that landlords are concerned about this case, and the potential impact it could have on those who find that they have unintentionally failed to comply with tenancy deposit protection legislation as a result of Lord Justice Lloyd’s ruling. However, they must remember that this judgement only applies to a very specific set of circumstances, meaning that most landlords will be unaffected. Although it is likely to affect relatively few tenancies, the NLA’s real concern in this matter is that, once again, professional landlords, following government guidance on how to comply with the law, have been caught out by the unintended consequences of the Housing Act 2004. The Government must act swiftly to reassure the industry that law-abiding landlords will not face sanctions as a result of this new interpretation of the rules. We’ve written to the Housing Minister calling on him to take urgent action to re-assert the spirit of the law on tenancy deposit protection and restore fairness to the system which was designed to ensure it.”

Caroline Kenny, UKALA Chief Executive, said: “UKALA is troubled that once again tenancy deposit protection rules appear to have been thrown into disarray by the Court of Appeal. Landlords and their agents simply trying to understand and comply with the law will be rightly disillusioned by yet another reconsideration of ‘the right way to protect a deposit’. We hope to see this matter taken to the Supreme Court so that clarity can be achieved once and for all. In the meantime, the industry is in desperate need of guidance from the Government about how to treat affected deposits.”

Despite the 2010 landmark ruling, where the OFT secured a High Court order against lettings agent Foxtons, forcing them to change the terms and conditions of their contracts, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that some letting agents are still using unfair terms and conditions for landlords.

The OFT has urged letting and managing agents to ensure their terms and conditions are fair and transparent. In some cases the office has written to a number of agents and industry associations to re-emphasise the results of the legal case.

The OFT secured a High Court order against Foxtons last year after High Court Judge, Mr Justice Mann, said “Some of its fees were like a trap for landlords, many of whom were buy-to-let investors. Such important terms should be flagged up prominently not just in the contract, but also in any sales literature, as consumers would not expect important obligations to be tucked away in the small print and not be specifically brought to their attention

Mr Justice Mann highlighted a number of terms and conditions that he considered to be unfair, including

  • Landlords to pay commission of 11% of the annual rent if a tenant remained in a property beyond the initial term (even if Foxtons played no part in persuading them to stay, or was no longer collecting rent or managing the property).
  • Commission of 2.5% of the property’s price if the landlord sold it to the tenant, even if Foxtons had not helped to broker the deal, (in some cases landlords had to continue paying commission even after the property had been sold).

Research conducted by the Office of Fair Trading showed the ruling had saved landlords at least £4.4 Million (GBP) a year.

However, many landlords and lettings agents were still unaware of the 2010 ruling and potentially unfair terms were still appearing on contracts.

OFT chief economist, Amelia Fletcher, said: “This research clearly demonstrates that there has been an immediate financial benefit for consumers from our intervention, and also evidence of knock-on benefits from making this market more competitive. However, there is evidence of continuing poor practice by some letting agents, which need to go further to make their contracts transparent and fair.”

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