Watch Out for Cowboy Letting Agencies

2 12 2012

My partner and I recently moved out of one property and are now in the process of getting out deposit back. We’ve been informed that £105 is being taken off for professional cleaning services!!! While the tenancy agreement does say that they can take this money off us to make sure that the property is in the same standard as we received it in, we never received it clean in the first place! The letting agency fully agree that we received the property in a disgusting state and paid us £85 to clean it ourselves – after telling us that it would take some time to get a cleaner in so we wouldn’t have been able to move in for a few days! Because we took the compensation, they say it means that they can take the money off us.

I hear stories all the time about letting agencies taking money from the deposit for unfair reasons. We’ve had money taken off us in the past from another letting agency but we had no way of proving that they were in the wrong. This time we definitely do! Especially since they have agreed that the gave us the keys while the property was in a disgusting state! Compensation means that they acknowledge that but certainly does not mean that they can break the tenancy agreement afterwards.

After doing some research into the letting agency – you know what, I’ll name them! Blackwells Letting Agency in East Kilbride – I’ve found that they don’t actually have a research. They only operate through RightMove.co.uk! I really wished I’d have looked into this before agreeing to rent the property from them because I definitely wouldn’t have bothered. There are also no reviews about them online at all, which makes it very difficult to check if they are reputable.

For anyone looking into Blackwells, I’m going to tell you not to bother for numerous reasons:

1. The fact that they are breaking the tenancy agreement. We handed the keys back with the property in a much better state than they gave it to us in. We made sure the cupboards were cleaned out – we found spatulas in cupboards when moving in!!! – and even cleaned the loft hatches out where leftover food from previous tenants was.

2. They failed to fix a leak coming through the roof for eight months. They claim that the landlord would need to have a reasonable amount of time to rectify the problem – are you really telling me eight months is reasonable? We couldn’t turn the bathroom light on because the leak from the roof was coming through the bathroom lights! Surely eight months is not reasonable when health and safety is involved.

3. They talked about charging us for broken skirting boards that we never reported. These were broken when we moved in and had poison mouse traps behind them (with dead mice in that decayed while we were in the house because we didn’t know about them!). Surely, it was reasonably to assume that they knew about it. They haven’t mentioned about the cost of this coming off our deposit so I’m guessing they’re backing down on this one.

4. They never informed us that the deposit would be moved into a deposit holding scheme. The money was moved and we were only informed after numerous emails and a call to find out about why we had not heard about our deposit after six weeks! Now I can’t even find the company online that they tell us the money has been moved to!

Next time, I will definitely do my research. I will find out about the letting agency before even thinking about handing money for a deposit. For this one, we will be disputing the amount that we will have taken from us. Please do your research so that you do not suffer from this problem. I’m doing a law degree through the Open University so I know about tenancy agreements that they have to stick to their terms or else the agreement is voided but not everyone is so lucky. If there are no reviews online and they do not have a website (especially in this day and age) please stay away, no matter how lovely the property is. There is something better elsewhere!

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Stop Your Employment Rights Being Violated!

24 08 2012

There has recently been another case with a certain employer which has led to researching into employment law again. This involves discrimination, changing a contract and forcing someone to work more hours than they will be paid for. I will not go into the details as the case is still open and is not about me but I just want to share with you the steps that you should take if you think that you are being treated unfairly at work or you think that your rights have being violated.

Research Employment Law

There are a number of websites that offer information on employment law. For those in the UK, direct.gov is the best website to visit for your legal needs. This website breaks down parts of employment law so that each one is easy for anyone to understand. I have used this website a lot and it is something that has helped me in previous legality problems.

Talk to Your Employer

If there are problems, it is worth talking to your employer. Managing directors, company owners and managers will attempt to get away with anything since not that many people know and understand employment law – you will be surprised by just how many rights are violated in workplaces around the world! If your employer knows that you are looking into employment law and your rights, it is likely that they will fix the current problem.

Seek Legal Advice

This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money. In Britain, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau is there to help with legal matters. When cases are too complex, they also have a legal team that they are able to refer the case to. All of this is free of charge. The CAB can also help with other elements, such as benefit rights and other legal issues.

Of course, talking to a solicitor may help. Take the time to find a solicitor who will offer a free initial consultation as this will help you find someone who will be able to handle your case. Finding the best solicitor for the best price takes time, please check out my post about finding an employment law solicitor to find out more.

Don’t Just Resign or Take It

Resigning or just accepting issues will not help them go away. Resigning will mean that the problem will not usually be fixed – unless this is something that a solicitor has advised you to do! – and just accepting it will mean that your employer will continue with his or her work practises. An employer has no right to dismiss you because you are seeking your legal rights – that would also be a violation of your employment rights!

Take the time to research and stand up for yourself if you think that your employment rights are being violated. This is the only way that something positive will be done. This will also help others in your workplace too, which will make the whole environment much happier and stress-free.





Why Vandalise My Car?

10 06 2012

This morning I woke up to find that both my wing mirrors had been damaged. The driver’s side just had the glass removed and the passenger side mirror was damaged beyond repair. If it was the first instance of this happening, it would be annoying but this is the second time someone has damaged the wing mirrors on my car in the last nine months or so. It begs the questions why are these people vandalising my car and what are they getting out of it?

My car is now no longer roadworthy since I only have one mirror. I think the law will allow me to drive the car to somewhere to get the mirrors fixed but I have found that I won’t need to do that (all I can say is, thank God for eBay!). I’m now just waiting for the replacements and should have a roadworthy car in two or three days, which makes me happier.

Now usually, my car being classed as unroadworthy wouldn’t bother me too much; I hardly use my car. However, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I could end up going into labour at any time but transport has become an issue. I just have to hope that I don’t go into labour over the next couple of days until the car is back to being roadworthy.

Since this is the second time that this has happened, we’ve decided to think about moving. We have two months left on our lease but if we do move, it means we’ve moved six times in the space of three years; it’s starting to get a little excessive! We’ll be moving with a newborn and the last thing I want to do is end up moving too far. I’ve been on the hunt for places close by (within 15 miles or so) and within budget. There are some nice places but it will stretch our budget – possibly a little too much. All I can do is wait for my partner to get back home from work to go through what I’ve found to see if he agrees that the budget can be stretched. Granted, stretching the budget means an extra bedroom, closer to the train station for my partner (some with a change of station and a shorter commute to work) and some with a garage for the car. I think they’re worth the extra money…

Anyway, enough of the rant. I just had to get that off my chest before I exploded. While I say thank God for eBay, I should also say thank God for my blog! A place I can get my thoughts out so I can get on with the rest of things on my to-do list.





Is Profit Everything for a Business?

10 06 2012

While running a business is about earning a profit, there are other things that need to be thought about. One of those, and probably the most important, is whether you are running your business legally. If not, then guess what, you’re going to lose more money by finding yourself being taken to court.

So, why am I writing this? A company (which I am not going to name the name of) has decided that they are going to force somebody out of his job by discriminating against the degree that he does and has started advertising for a position in-store but breaking UK employment law by not advertising it externally.

Both of these could end up with this store getting into a lot of trouble and unfortunately the directors have rubbed me completely the wrong way that I am going out of my way to make their mistakes known. Not the first one – there is nothing that I can do about that – but definitely the second one.

What I don’t get though is that in a world where employment law can be found easily on the Internet and the company have their own lawyers to offer advice, they are still going about everything (and I mean, everything) in completely the wrong way. When will they learn?

I no longer have anything to do with this company; I no longer work there. The problem is my partner does and that is where I end up hearing about everything that is going on in the store. The place is no longer safe for anybody to work there.

Since initially writing this post, my partner has moved from this store to another one – under the same company but run by a different director. This new store is run legally and still manages to make a profit on a weekly basis. The staff are extremely happy and my partner has started to enjoy his job again, which naturally makes our lives much happier and easier.

 





Why Are Some Companies Thinking?

10 06 2012

I’ve got to wonder what’s going on in this company’s head and I’d love to hear from them just what they think they’re doing. This could have a lot of people panicking about paying bills and ruining their credit rating when really there was no need for it.

In the end, this problem did temporarily damage my credit rating because of the company’s mistake. They put a late payment notice on my account after agreeing that they were in the wrong and waiving the bill total. Luckily, I spotted this fairly early on while checking my credit – which is something that everyone should do on a regular basis! I contacted the credit check agency of the mistake and let them solve the issue for me so I have been able to get credit at a later date.

On another note, I’ve got to question the ideas of another company. This one is a website that I’m on while currently finding houses to rent in the Glasgow area since my partner and I are planning on moving there next month/July.

Anyway, this website has a house on there to rent that is actually rent to buy. Why? Why not state that in the details of the house. Saying “must be in full time employment only” does not mean that it’s a rent to buy – there are plenty of estate agents that ask for full time employment as a requirement to rent for them just to protect the chances of them getting the money and to prevent the chances of constant house parties.

Also, why do some estate agents think it’s fine to advertise a house as 0pcm? Are you really going to let someone in the house for free? No, don’t think so. Shouldn’t it be a requirement on these websites to put the cost of the rent on there? If it’s negotiable just pop that in the details.

Oh and a final one; a cottage flat is not a house; it’s a flat. When I’m looking for a house, I don’t want to find cottage flats (even if they are 3 bedroom and look great) instead. I want to find houses. If I wanted a flat, high rise or of the cottage variety, I’d put that in the search.





Stand Up for Yourself

10 06 2012

I am a great believer in standing up for what I believe is right. Sometimes this gets me into trouble but at other times I find that it is the only way to get something done. I never complain about the way something is going because I always voice my opinion to the people that can do something about it.

Just one example is a workplace. I knew that it was being run completely wrong and that I was being treated in the wrong way. What did I do? I took it straight to the director of the business and asked her to sort it out (it was a manager so that was the only person I could go to).

In the end, I was fired, partially because of the complaint that I put it so I went straight to the head office of the franchise to sort it out that way. Still nothing has been done and I’ve been back and forth with letters of complaints and threatening to take legal action that I know I am entitled to take – I know my rights! As an update, nothing ended up happening. The head office refused to answer any of my letters and even the owner of the franchise ignored me. I’ve not completely given up but I have noticed that a few changes have been made. While that does not help me, it has helped others. Also, because of this mess, it has given me the kick that I needed to start my law degree and move into being a corporate law solicitor.

The problem is, I’m happy to make official complaints and stand up for myself but there are plenty of people in the same store that I once worked in that complain about their job and the way they are treated. Just recently many of the part time students who do not do a certain course have found out that they are going to be losing their jobs. They have no idea when but they just know that it will happen. If that was me, I’d be going straight to finding out my rights but they haven’t. Instead, they complain and then search for a job elsewhere.

Now, I can’t complain at them for doing that because they are taking matters into their own hands. They are finding other work and are doing something positive about it. At the same time, they are all going to be leaving the certain store in trouble because there will not be enough staff.

What I am angry about is the fact that the store thinks that they can get away with discriminating, not just against part time staff, but against those who are doing certain courses! That is not right at all but they are all letting those in charge get away with what they are doing. If that was me, I’d be going straight to head office and questioning what the hell they think this store is doing! Either that or threatening to take legal action. In the end some of the staff did take the issue up with the directors and proved that they do know their rights and that the law is on their side.

Yes, it is a business and yes, they need to make money. The difference is, getting rid of your part time staff that generally work all the weekends so the full time staff don’t have to is not going to save money – especially when those members of staff work a lot harder than some of those who do work full time, including managers.

If the directors really wanted to save money, they would have gotten rid of two managers when they had the chance. Instead, they kept them on. They would also be better getting rid of the members of staff that aren’t actually doing their jobs right and are causing more money to go out instead of in the store. Something tells me that these directors have no actual sense of business and are looking for easy ways to get rid of people without having to pay them off, which is the wrong way to go about it.

 





Want to Write About Anything

10 06 2012

Sometimes the problem with being a full time writer is that you are writing about what your clients want rather than what you want. I hate having to do this at times because it makes my head scream at me to write something that I know about and that I have fun writing about.

It’s not always possible though because the work builds up and there are so few hours in one day. Although there are times that I’m thankful for it. Just a recent piece of work that I had to do pointed me in the direction of this place to start blogging. It was then that I realised something – there was a place for me to write about whatever I wanted.

So, this is going to be my new little home to start writing about anything that I want – thoughts for the day, little articles and even just daily stories that I find interesting enough to write about.

This is the start of me moving all my old posts from my WordPress blog to here, so that all of my blogs can be in one place.