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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Friday, 17 September 2021

TENANCY NOTICE PERIODS: in England, old periods are coming back with new forms

FIFTH 'RETURN OF BREAKING LAW' UPDATE  - TO CHAPTER 67 ('AT WAR WITH YOUR HOME LANDLORD')

01 October 2021. A Friday. Remember it well. It is the day on which residential landlords in England will be screaming in ecstasy. Those temporary notice periods which were brought in to provide some respite for tenants being booted out during the pandemic for defaulting with their rent or other transgressions - at one time, six months' notice! - are coming to an end and the pre-pandemic notice periods are coming back. When? On 01 October 2021, of course. A Friday. I know you have already remembered that. So it's generally back to at least two months to 14 days' notice depending on the type of tenancy (and for much more on that, take a butchers at my latest book what I wrote 'The Return of Breaking Law'). 

Notices already served and proceedings already underway on the strength of them are unaffected. It is only notices that are given to tenants on or after 01 October 2021 - a Friday - that will be governed by the changes. Some landlords who have more recently given notice to their tenants for the longer temporary periods may well be tempted to withdraw those notices and serve fresh notices on or after 01 October 2021. They will need to get out their diaries and calculate whether they will be better off doing so.

So far, then, a boost for landlords. But a trap too. That's because the prescribed notice forms are changing to reflect the reintroduction of the original notice periods. A landlord who serves an old form on or after 01 October 2021- a Friday - does so at their peril.

The actual new regulations with the new forms are waiting for you at the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies) (Amendment and Suspension) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/994). The forms that change are form 3 for notices under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, form 6A for notices under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and the part 2 notice under section 83 of the Housing Act 1985 which was given a couple of injections of Botox so very recently (see https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/2021/08/council-repossessions-in-england-new.html).

I almost forgot. The legislators' right to bring back the longer temporary periods is retained right up to 25 March 2022 just in case too many of you go into Waitrose without a face covering.








COMPULSORY PURCHASE: displacement compensation about to rise in England

 
There's nothing to beat a nice bit of development - unless you are being thrown out of your home to make way for it. Where you are out because of a compulsory purchase order or public redevelopment, one of the heads of compensation to which you are entitled is for the distress and inconvenience which displacement will cause. There are limits to that compensation which are reviewed annually. The limits are going up for England when you are thrown out on or after 01 October 2021.  You can bless and curse the Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/841).

An owner-occupier can collect 10% of the market value of their property under this head of compensation. The minimum will be £7,100 which is an increase from £6,500 and a maximum of £71,000 which is an increase from £65,000. For a tenant, there is a flat rate which will be set at £7,100 and increases from £6,500.  




Saturday, 11 September 2021

LAW WATCH: Free video on legal rights of cohabitees with ex-judge Stephen Gold

 



You've broken up with your partner. You thought you had absolutely no legal rights against them? You may be pleasantly surprised. Take a look. And remember to subscribe - no charge - so that you will be alerted to my future free videos and  be able to check whether I have changed my shirt. 


Wednesday, 8 September 2021

WAITROSE STAFF UNMASKED

 



That's an 'A' board you see. It is outside the Havant, Hants branch of Waitrose at which a relatively large proportion of staff will not wear face coverings while on the shop floor. Management say they encourage them to do so. Indeed, they give the same encouragement to shoppers and, from my experience, most shoppers positively respond. There is not unanimous agreement on the effectiveness of face coverings in enclosed spaces. But I suggest that in shops, at least, there should be respect for the wishes of the owners and face covered shoppers who believe that protection is afforded by the wearing of coverings by all customers and staff for whom wearing a covering does not raise any health issue.  Here's a summary of my recent email exchange on the subject with the Waitrose executive office. If you bear with me, you will find out more about the 'A' board.

Me to Waitrose
13/08/2021
Good Afternoon
I have shopped in your Havant, Hants store every day this week. I am appalled to see a material number of staff - three of them today were supervisory - without face coverings and without any displayed indication that they were exempt from wearing such a covering. What sort of message does this convey to shoppers who are civilly asked to take various health precautions and, from what I have observed, are in the vast majority of cases doing so? In short, your shoppers are behaving more responsibly than your staff. Why do you not prevail on staff at the store to be masked or, at the very least, withdraw from client contact if they refuse? By virtue of the large proportion of unmasked staff, it is highly unlikely they were all exempt in any event.

Waitrose to Me
13/08/2021
Dear Stephen
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
....In line with government guidance, we will recommend that our customers and Partners in England continue to wear a face covering unless exempt, from 19 July. The decision over whether to do so or not, when in our shops, will be for each individual to take, based on their own judgment.
I do appreciate your concern, despite the relaxation of Government restrictions. Across all our stores we will be retaining perspex screens and hand sanitising stations, We will also maintain all of the hand hygiene and store cleaning disciplines which have served us well since the start of the pandemic.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns and I will ensure your comments are fed back to the branch manager at Havant.
....

Me to Waitrose
14/08/2021
Dear Josh
Thank you and noted. But that is a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs, is it not? What is the legal impediment to you taking a Partner who refuses to wear a mask off the shop floor to discharge other duties so that customers are not exposed to them and the danger they present? There is none of which I am aware.

Me to Waitrose
14/08/2021
Dear Josh
An update, Just back from waitrose, Havant. The lady on 'customer services' is unmasked. Customer disservices?

Waitrose to me
16/08/2021
Dear Stephen
Thank you for getting back in touch and for your suggestion.
I'm very sorry that you're unhappy with our response and I do understand how you are feeling.
Unfortunately this isn't something we would be able to do with our Partners due to operation of our shops - the majority of the tasks take place on the shop-floor and there aren't dedicated 'back of house' teams.
I will continue to pass on your feedback to the branch manager as well as to our leadership teams to review.

Me to Waitrose
17/08/2021
Josh
...
I observe today that the safety guidance to customers is displayed close to the store entrance but inside so you have to be inside to read it whereas my recollection is that it was formerly displayed in the front window (possibly, as well as inside). For the obvious reason, exclusive display inside is not sufficient, is it?

Waitrose to me
17/08/2021
Dear Stephen
Thanks for your response.
...
I'm sorry to hear that some of our safety guidance is positioned inside the branch. I will speak to branch management about this to make the signage visible to customers outside of the branch. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  

Me to Waitrose
21/08/2021
Josh
...I would have hoped - as I am sure would you - that this particular complaint could have been put to bed but, alas, I have more depressing news. The signage and the positioning have not changed and so it would seem that your direction or advice (as the case may be) has not been heeded. I have started on the task of producing a notice that can be prominently displayed in a front window and which follows the wording of the covid notice to be found within the store. If the branch management team can take  a few minutes off from encouraging staff to wear face coverings and contact me, arrangements can be made for me to affix the notice to a suitable position. I would not make any charge for my services.
On my visit to the store this afternoon, only two cashiers were face covered which then increased to three. One of the uncovered was the young lady on the fast 'baskets only' till. I would have thought that this was unsatisfactory as this till surely needs to be well patronised to take the pressure off the other tills but I did observe that customers, as did I, were unsurprisingly keeping their distance from her. Perhaps those members of management who are singing the praises of mask coverings need to raise the volume of their voices or take a course in the powers of persuasion.


Waitrose to me
24/08/2021
Dear Stephen
I'm very sorry to hear that the signage has not been moved to a clearer position outside. 
I have spoke with...the branch manager who has arranged for a sign to be placed outside. They have also ordered a new signage display which will sit outside to display the safety message to customers. I apologise that this wasn't in place previously.

Me To Waitrose
04/09/2021
Dear Josh
Yes, it is me again. The signage outside is an 'A' board: one side has advertising material and the other side is devoted to covid health precautions. During the week commencing 23 August 2021, the board on successive days was situated so that the health precautions side could only be read by customers approaching the store along the pavement outside in one direction or so that the health precautions side was only visible from inside the store and facing out (see photograph above which was sent) and on one day it was absent.
I think that Waitrose, Havant is having a laugh. Don't you?

Waitrose to me
06/09/2021
Thanks for getting back and I hope you are keeping well.
.... I will raise this with.. the branch manager so he can address this with the team and look to resolve this.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I hope you have a lovely rest of the day and rest of the week.

Safe shopping.





Tuesday, 7 September 2021

BEAT COURT FEE RISES:UPDATE

I recently warned of imminent court fee increases. See https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk I can now report that those increases will be coming into force on 30 September 2021. They are introduced by the Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2021 (SI 2021/985) which were laid before Parliament yesterday 06 September 2021.

I have kept this update short so that you can get on with preparing paperwork to beat the rises instead of wasting time reading my attempts at humour. But, for the avoidance of any doubt, these rises are positively not a joke. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

BEAT COURT FEE RISES

As predicted in 'The Return of Breaking Law'  a wigful (to fit an enormous head) of court fees will soon be introduced. To be precise, 129 of them in civil and family proceedings as well as in certain cases in the Court of Protection. To avoid paying the extra, you need to take the step which will attract the fee as soon as you can. The Ministry of Justice has said that the increased fees will be brought into force in early Autumn 2021 which means we could be looking at the start of October 2021 or shortly after.  You can find full details of each and every increased fee at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/increasing-selected-court-fees-income-thresholds/results/court-fees-increasing-consultation-response.pdf

Here are some of the increases -

To start a divorce, nullity or civil partnership dissolution case  - up £43 to £593

To issue a county court or High Court application notice (form N244) - up £20 to £275

To issue a county court or High Court application notice BY CONSENT (form N244) - up £8 to £108

Hearing fee (otherwise called trial fee) for county court small claims case for £300 or less - up £2 to £27

Ditto for case for more than £300 but no more than £500 - up £4 to £59

Ditto for case for more than £500 but no more than £1,000 - up £5 to £85

Ditto for case for more than £1,000 but no more than £1,500 - up £8 to £123

Ditto for case for more than £1,500 but no more than £3,000 - up £11 to £181

Ditto for case for more than £3,000 - up £11 to £346

Hearing fee (otherwise called trial fee) for multi-track case in county court or High Court - up £85 to £1,175

The Help with Fees system which can mean no fee or a reduced fee survives. It will benefit you if you are on benefits. If not on benefits but a low income, have a go. The income thresholds for applicants not on benefits will be slightly raised at the same time as the fees go up.




Sunday, 29 August 2021

CHILD DISPUTE SCHEME BOLSTERED: £500 on offer towards mediation cost: no means test

FOURTH 'RETURN OF BREAKING LAW' UPDATE

I looked at alternatives to court proceedings at chapter 09 of my book. One of the alternatives is mediation. That's the process by which somebody independent who has been trained in getting parties at war to settle disputes will apply their skills to hostilities between you and your opponent. Those skills sometimes extend to the connection together of the parties' heads until peace prevails. This is sometimes known as head bashing. 

One type of mediation covered by my book is the pilot scheme set up by the government to pay £500 towards the costs of a mediator assisting in couples reaching an agreement over a child dispute and to avoid it going to or continuing in court (see https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/search/label/mediation). I predicted that if the scheme was initially successful then more money would be added to the £1m made available to issue vouchers to cover this £500 a dispute. 

It's happened. Yesterday 28 August 2021, the government announced the investment of a further £800,000 in the scheme which is sourced through a mediator conducting the information programme in which anyone wishing to take a child dispute to court must generally participate  before the case can be started.

The scheme does not involve a means test. It's open to millionaires.