Friday, February 23, 2007

Housing law in crisis

The Law Society Gazette was rather a worrying read this week. Amid tales of criminal legal aid solicitors going on strike, and DCA leadership not being fit for purpose, was this news item on plummeting legal aid housing contracts which have fallen from 840 to 587 – a drop of some 30%. A bet that there are quite a few housing law deserts out there – 587 firms cannot cover the whole country, particularly as I suspect quite a few of those are in London.

I attended a housing conference last week. The speaker on unlawful eviction confirmed that in his experience the police simply refuse to take any action when someone is illegally evicted - despite that fact that it is a criminal offence. And yet being unlawfully evicted from your home must be the most traumatic experience.

So if the poor old illegally evicted tenant can’t get any help from the police and there are hardly any legal aid housing solicitors for him to consult – how is he going to be able to enforce his rights to re-instatement (if he wants it) and compensation? Drafting a decent court claim for compensation for unlawful eviction is not easy as there are so many different causes of action – it would be a difficult job for most litigation solicitors, let alone a litigant in person.

Its not fair is it? And what is the point of making something a criminal offence if the police refuse to deal with it?

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

I see that my very first blog entry was on Friday 17th February last year - so this blog is now one year old! Its been quite fun so I expect I will continue.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Feed me!!

Eminent legal blogs have predicted that RSS will explode in 2007, so who I am to argue? We have now finally added a RSS feed to my Landlord-Law site, which gives links to new items recently uploaded.

Not without a certain amount of angst from me, as I continue to find this really simple technology a bit difficult to follow sometimes. However my web-designer Gill did admit that not all of it is really simple, which gives me some comfort (although perhaps she was just being polite).

I am now using RSS feeds on my Google personalised home page which means that I can easily view and keep up with news, legal blogs, and of course the Doctor Who news page and outpost Gallifrey! I find I use it all the time now, and have five tabbed paged of links!

There is also a feed for this blog which you should find right at the bottom of the screen if you scroll down. Although if you use Mozilla Firefox, the feed icon on your toolbar should go red and you will be able to subscribe by clicking that. This doesn’t work with the Landlord-Law feed though - I have no idea why not, another one of the 'really confusing' things about this 'really simple' system.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Merger Mania

The word on the street is that ARLA (the association of Residential Letting Agents) and NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) are to merge. See this report. The official verdict is that this is a 'major step in the protection of the consumer, the professionalism of the residential property industry and a benefit for all those employed in residential sales and lettings'

However others are not too sure. A later report expresses grave concern. A major letting agency, Leaders have issued a press release on the subject. I myself have spoken to another letting agent who was very worried that ARLA will be subsumed by the estate agents organisation and the needs of letting agents, which differ, will less well catered for. His company is a member of the Guild of Letting and Management. If the merger goes ahead, I suspect that the Guild will do rather well out of it.

Another merger on the cards is between two landlords organisations, the National Federation of Residential Landlords (NFRL) and the Southern Private Landlords Association (SPLA). See this press release. This will mean that there will be two large landlords organisations – The National Landlords Association, and the merged NFRL and SPLA.

Interestingly the National Landlords Association has been awarded a contract to run one of the two insurance based tenancy deposit schemes, the one which is supposed to be aimed at landlords. However the NFRA/SPLA is offering its members a scheme using the other insurance based scheme, provided by the Dispute Service Ltd, which I understand was aimed primarily at letting agents. Could this mean that the two landlords associations do not like each other?

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