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Tribunal upholds ruling against £123 million stamp duty avoidance scheme

19th December 2014

A tribunal has upheld a legal ruling against a stamp duty avoidance scheme that has been protecting up to £123 million in unpaid tax. Scheme user Project Blue Ltd had appealed against an earlier First Tier Tribunal decision relating to its purchase of the Chelsea Barracks in London. The appeal has now been rejected by the Upper Tribunal. The stamp duty sub-sale alternative finance scheme was used in an attempt to eliminate all of the stamp duty due on the purchase of the barracks. The U...

£75,000 fine for ALMO after engineer found dead in boiler house

19th December 2014

An ALMO has been heavily fined for safety failings following the death of a heating engineer at one of its housing estates. Alan Young’s body was discovered in the Grahame Park estate boiler house in August 2011. The 68-year-old had been working alone at height when he fell, and sustained severe head injuries. Barnet Homes, which manages 15,000 home on behalf of Barnet Council, was investigated by and eventually prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety breaches over Mr...

Rogue 'beds in sheds' landlord fined £20,000

16th December 2014

A rogue landlord has been ordered to pay more than £20,000, following an investigation by Hillingdon Council's beds in sheds team.  Shalini Largey, of West Drayton Road, Hayes, appeared for sentencing at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court last week after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing for failing to comply with an enforcement notice requesting her to cease the illegal use of an outbuilding.  The district judge fined her £18,000 and ordered her to pay costs of £2,500....

Social landlords get stark tenants' rights legal lesson

15th December 2014

By Christine Land, housing management solicitor, Croftons Solicitors LLP The recent Supreme Court decision of Loveridge v Lambeth LBC [2014] UKSC 65 provides a stark warning for social landlords looking to recover possession of premises other than by way of a court order. Even where it would appear that the tenant has vacated the premises, acting in any way incompatible with the tenant’s rights continuing could be a costly gamble. When assessing damages for unlawful eviction under sections ...

Call to ban cannabis smokers from social housing

12th December 2014

A London councillor has called for cannabis smokers to be barred from council housing – which he claimed should be set aside for “decent people” instead.  Gary Poole, a Labour councillor for St Mary’s ward in Islington, said that it is “a scandal” pot smokers are allowed to live in social homes while 10,000 non-cannabis users sit on the local housing waiting list.  A prison governor, cllr Poole’s comments followed the revelation at an Islington ...

Council's ‘beds in sheds’ raid finds illegal immigrants

12th December 2014

A dawn raid on several suspected illegal bedsits and occupied out-buildings was carried out by dozens of officers from Hounslow Council, Police, Home Office Immigration Enforcement and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) this week. Several suspected illegal immigrants were also discovered during the raid – believed to be the largest of its kind in the country. The swoop, which took place in the early hours of Monday morning, was led by the council’s rogue landlord and housing enforcement team...

Pensioner jailed for £69,000 benefit fraud

10th December 2014

An 80-year-old who fraudulently claimed almost £70,000 in benefits will spend Christmas behind bars. Pensioner Richard Denby swindled housing and council tax from various local authorities over an eight-year period. Last week at Oxford Crown Court, the crook was sentenced to 40 weeks in prison and ordered to repay more than £55,000 compensation to the affected authorities. Between 2000 and 2008, Denby, who is originally from Barrow-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire, rented properties in th...

Abusive council tenant set to lose home unless behaviour improves

9th December 2014

A council tenant who has threatened and been abusive towards her neighbours faces eviction unless her behaviour improves. Vanessa Fitton, of Barrie Road, Southey, has been told by landlord Sheffield City Council that she could also lose her home if she allows her partner to enter her house. Fitton, 27, has lived at the property since December 2005, and throughout that time her partner has committed various criminal offences in the area, including possession of a shotgun with intent and wounding, fo...

Borrowers warned to steer clear of loan sharks this Christmas

9th December 2014

A project set up to crack down on loan sharks is warning people not to turn to illegal money lenders this Christmas. Through enforcement action, awareness raising and education, the Stop Loan Sharks Project has a clear message: what may seem like a small loan to tide people over for Christmas could end up costing them well into the New Year and beyond. And the organisers warn that the effect is not just financial - the impact on the lives of victims and their families can be horrific. To highlight the misery ca...

Property company fined £25,000 after putting tenants at risk

3rd December 2014

A property company which let out a three-bed house that it had crudely converted into a seven-bed property has been heavily fined.  Four Seasons Property Ltd was found guilty of five breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006 at Willesden Magistrates’ Court last week, and was ordered to pay the maximum fine of £25,000, £2,466 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge. The prosecution was brought by a joint venture between firm Capita and Barne...