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Issue:- Sunday, 31 January 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 5 news items.    Page - 13.

Do Councils tell tenants to wait for bailiffs before moving out?

ALEX Brent from National Landlords Association (NLA) has said that an alarming number of private tenants are being told by their local Council to ignore eviction notices served by their landlords; and to wait for bailiffs to turn up before moving out; in order to qualify for re-housing support, according to new findings.

The findings have been published within the NLA Quarterly Tenants Research Panel; Q4 2015, that had 950 respondents.  The NLA who work with 65,000 landlords said:- "49% of tenants who've been served with a section 21 notice by their private landlord say they have been told to ignore it by their local Council or an advice agency such as Shelter or the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB)."

If true, these figures shine a light on the scale of the issue, which was recently highlighted by the UK's Telegraph newspaper and has been exacerbated by the increasing use of private landlords, by local authorities, to discharge their housing duties.

"The advice is increasingly being offered because Councils are refusing to accept tenants' housing applications before an order for possession has been granted by a Court, despite guidance from Central Government that confirms all housing applications should be accepted from the time notice is served on the tenant."
says the NLA.

NLA Chairman Carolyn Uphill also commented:- "We've always known that tenants receive this kind of advice and it's a huge problem because it damages the confidence of landlords who work in the community to home those who aren't able to access social housing. There is no justification for prolonging the stress and uncertainty brought by a possession case. Advice like this creates unnecessary strain on tenants, landlords, and the Courts Service, which must first hear the case and order possession before Councils are prepared to carry out their statutory duties. Nobody should ever be told to wait until the bailiffs turn up; it makes an already unpleasant situation much worse for everyone and creates a vicious cycle of misery and spiralling costs for all involved."

Please let us know your views on this, via emailing us to:-, as we would like to know if the claims are correct!

 Game over for football fan fraudster

A Liverpool man who evaded over £91,700 of VAT and then fled to Benidorm to hide from the taxman, has been jailed after returning to the UK to attend an Everton home game.

Routine checks by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed that Damian O'Hagan, 60, of Norris Green, the director of Foodservice Interim Management Limited, had kept the VAT he had charged one client between 2009 and 2014, even though his business wasn't VAT registered.

When he realised his fraud had been discovered O'Hagan tried to register his company for VAT to cover up his crime. Before the application was processed, he moved to Benidorm to run a bar but couldn't resist returning to watch his favourite team play in August 2015. He was arrested at the turnstile as he tried to enter the ground.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:- "O'Hagan knew his business transactions were under scrutiny and the game was up. This was one match he wasn't going to win. He chose to pocket the VAT he had collected from his client, at the expense of UK taxpayers and because of his dishonesty he has been jailed today. He now faces a full confiscation hearing to recover the money he stole from the public purse. If you know of anyone who is committing Tax Fraud, you can report them by calling our 24 hour Hotline on:- 0800 59 5000."

On 27 January 2015, O'Hagan was sentenced to 18 months jail after pleading guilty to VAT fraud at Liverpool Crown Court during an earlier hearing in December 2016.

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