Sabtu, 07 September 2013

666: The Mark of the Debt Collector

I don’t know any debt collectors personally but if you were to shave their heads I wouldn’t be surprised if you found three six’s hidden there. Collection agencies will use any means necessary to harass, bully and intimidate if they think they can shake a penny out of you.

Banished from elitist society, debt collectors are damned to roam the earth and torture debtors throughout all eternity. They have no concept of reasoning because they have no soul. Save your excuses for not paying up, because they will fall upon deaf ears.

If you answer your phone, they’ll terrorize you. There’s no escaping. You can try to hold them off as long as you can but eventually, they’ll start contacting your family and friends. They are relentless in their pursuit…Like modern day terminators. They will not stop until they get their hands on your money.

Only the most experienced debtors have any chance of defeating the beast. There are ways to mount a counter attack but they do not come without risks; however, if you are willing to seek guidance and serve faithfully, you can bring the beast to its knees. You need only call out his name and your savior will appear.

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Kamis, 05 September 2013

Govan Law Centre seeks Trainee Solicitor

Govan Law Centre is seeking a new Trainee Solicitor to join its award winning legal team.  The role will include defending evictions and mortgage repossessions as part of our new Prevention of Homelessness City Rights Hubs in Glasgow City, along with undertaking work in our Govanhill Law Centre office, working with the Roma community and EU migrant workers.

The new post will also have scope to undertake legal work within our national Education Law Unit, which provides expert advice and representation in the field of Scots education law. There may also be an opportunity to undertake Scottish Parliamentary law reform and social justice campaign work. We believe this is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has a demonstrable passion for social justice in Scotland.

Please send CV and a relevant covering letter to: Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor at Govan Law Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow, G51 2BZ or Closing date noon, Friday 27 September 2013. No recruitment agencies necessary thank-you. 

Govan Law Centre is a Registered Scottish Charity SC030193 And aims to be an Equal Opportunities Employer. You must hold, or be entitled to hold, a valid Entrance Certificate from the Law Society of Scotland to apply for this post, in relation to a proposed start date of October/November 2013.

Rabu, 04 September 2013

Govan Law Centre to draft Bill to prevent vulnerable Scots being evicted for bedroom tax arrears

Glasgow's Govan Law Centre (GLC) is delighted to announce that it's 'No Evictions for Bedroom Tax Arrears petition' will now be taken forward as a Member's Bill in the Scottish Parliament. The sponsoring member is Jackie Baillie, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Welfare and MSP for Dumbarton. GLC has agreed to provide full legal and policy support in the drafting of the proposed legislation and accompanying documents.

'Under-occupancy deductions' are losing tenants of councils and housing associations in Scotland £12 per week on average, with some tenants losing as much as £22 per week in housing benefit. Around 105,000 households in Scotland are affected by the bedroom tax, of which 80% contain a person with a disability.

When it comes to Scottish rent arrears eviction actions in sheriff courts, often the success or failure of a tenant in preventing eviction will turn on a few pounds per week, for example the standard payment for arrears direct is £3.55 per week. Accordingly, £12 to £22 per week being deducted from rent payments under the bedroom tax creates the perfect storm for a major increase in evictions and homelessness in Scotland, as tenants are unable to downsize or find extra money from very low incomes.

Govan Law Centre's Chairman, Tommy McMahon said: "Govan Law Centre has suggested a small amendment to section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 which would prevent 'bedroom tax rent arrears' being used to establish or justify a crave for eviction, and instead the landlord could obtain a payment decree for these 'type of arrears', and pursue them an ordinary debt".

"We are very grateful that Jackie Baillie MSP has agreed to champion this law reform proposal, and stand up for Scotland's most vulnerable tenants. It makes no economic sense to evict tenants, disabled people and children for bedroom tax arrears when they cannot downsize to a smaller property in practice, obtain a smaller specially adapted home, or find an extra £50 per month from breadline benefits. The Scottish Parliament has the power to protect tenants from the bedroom tax and it's time to act'.

GLC is also supporting the calls - along with Shelter Scotland and many others - on the Scottish Government to find £50m for social landlords to off-set the impact of the bedroom tax.

Minggu, 01 September 2013

Good Bill Collector, Bad Bill Collector!

You’ve seen it on prime time police dramas before, where one cop comes into the interrogation room and lays into the suspect like a tornado in order to shake a confession out of them. When that fails, they send in the other cop who takes an approach of caring and concern for the suspect in order to gain their trust only to coax them into confessing to the crime. Yep. The ol’ good cop, bad cop, routine.

Well, you might be surprised to know that bill collectors use the same technique to loosen the pockets of unsuspecting debtors. First, they have the tough, hard-nosed bill collector speak to you who does everything in his power to break you down and shake you up. When that doesn’t work, they put the nice guy on the phone to calm your nerves and settle you down and hopefully make you feel comfortable enough to pay the debt you owe.

The point I’m trying to make is to stand your ground and don’t let any bill collector talk you into paying a dime unless it benefits you in some way. Remember, you have what they want and therefore hold all the cards. Their idle threats and scare tactics are just that…scare tactics. They get paid on commission and earn bonuses for collecting the most money. There are documented incidents of some collection agencies holding contests between themselves to see who can make a customer cry first!!!

I’ve heard every threat you can imagine but I didn’t budge. When I did decide to pay them it was on my terms and I made sure I got something out of it by having them agree “in writing” to remove the negative reporting from all 3 credit bureauprofiles in exchange for me paying off the debt. This technique is called “Pay for Delete” or “PFD”, which I will explain in more detail in a future post. If you can’t wait that long, just send me a message and I will forward you a sample “PFD” letter that I have used in the past to successfully negotiate a payment on my terms, not theirs!

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Jumat, 30 Agustus 2013

The Payday Loan Shuffle!

Payday loansare the financial equivalent of a death trap! Before you know it, they’ve multiplied around town like jackrabbits! Multiple payday loans are a lot of work. By the time you get finished running around town paying them off and then borrowing again, you find yourself taking a lunch break between them because it takes up half your damn day! My buddies and I came up with a term for this phenomenon. We call it “The Shuffle.”

The term “Shuffle” came about from the fact that a person has to shuffle all over town every 2 weeks to payback and re-borrow payday loans. The reality is that once you get your first payday loan you’ll most likely end up with 3 or more before too long. Payday loans are easy enough to get into but hard as hell to get out of.

The shuffle does not come without at least some self-perception of embarrassment or shame. Every time you leave your house to start the shuffle, you find yourself hoping that you don’t run into any of your friends or co-workers as you enter or exit the shuffle location. It’s not uncommon to park your car around the corner and walk half a block to the shuffle as to not have your car seen parked right outside the shuffle. Either real or imagined, the shame of having been caught up in the shuffle is still there.

On some days you’ll see a person ahead of you in line at one location and then by the time you get to your next shuffle, you’ll see that same person as they are trying to wrap up their own damn shuffles. Sometimes you’ll acknowledge each other but most times you just go in and try to keep your head down.

Multiple shuffles will eventually turn into a financial nightmare and the only way you’ll be able to wake up from it is to “burn” them all at once by closing your bank account so they can’t collect their money via electronic funds transfer (EFT) when payday rolls around. Now you’re forced to open another checking account at a new bank before the shuffle place reports you to “Check Systems.”

Oh, and don’t forget about the cute girl that works in the shuffle location that you’d love to ask out if not for the fact that you’re in there shuffling every other damn week and it just wouldn’t feel right asking her on a date. But let’s play it out…

Me: Hello Kathy…I was wondering if I could take you out to lunch sometime?

Kathy: Well, I would but I’m always working and with me studying for my masters I really don’t have a lot of free time to hangout, but thank you though.

Translation: Dude, you’re here borrowing money every other damn week. How in the hell can you afford to take me out?

You can see how this probably wouldn’t go over too well.

Part of the problem is that payday loans are everywhere you turn these days. Where I live there must be at least 15 of them within about a 2 mile stretch of road on either side of the street, so the temptation is there. Luckily for me, I’ve managed to break the cycle and get out the shuffle but it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

Take it from me. Avoid the shuffle at all costs. It’s too much work and it’s just not worth it.

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Minggu, 25 Agustus 2013

GLC cautions against presuming non-payment of bedroom tax arrears leads to 'intentional homelessness'

A number of recent housing articles and commentators have suggested that where a tenant is evicted due to the inability to pay rent due to under-occupancy (bedroom tax) deductions, they will 'usually be classified as intentionally homeless', and not be entitled to alternative accommodation as a homeless person. This is not a correct statement of the law in Scotland or England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The statutory intentional homelessness test requires a deliberate act or omission in consequence of which accommodation is lost. This essentially requires local authorities to consider the issue of fault. For example, in the English Court of Appeal case of William v. London Borough of Wandsworth the court expressed this test as follows:

"I accept, of course, that it was for the authority to explain why it took the view that the failure to pay monies due under the mortgage was 'deliberate' within the meaning of section 191(1) of the 1996 Act: or, to put the point the other way, why the failure to pay monies due under the mortgage was not properly to be treated as 'non-deliberate' – in the sense that it was forced upon the applicant through no fault of his own" (at para 36, [2006] EWCA Civ 535).

Where a tenant is paying rent (by way of housing benefit) but accrues rent arrears due to the effect of the bedroom tax and is unable to take any reasonable steps to avoid this, then there would be a strong presumption that this was not the 'fault' of the tenant. If so, a tenant in such circumstances who lost their home should not be deemed intentionally homeless. There is ample authority for this principle, for example:

In R v. Tower Hamlets London Borough Council ex parte Mahmood a council tenant was evicted for arrears.  She was found to have become homeless intentionally. Sir Louis Blom-Cooper Q.C quashed the council’s decision as it failed to indicate whether the council had found that Ms Mahmood deliberately failed to pay her rent – as opposed to being in multiple debt and unable to pay.

R v. Tower Hamlets London Borough Council ex parte Ullah (1992) 24 HLR 680 was a case where an owner occupier in multiple debt sold his house to repay debts: insufficient enquiries were made into the necessity of this course of action and a decision of intentional homelessness was quashed by the court.

Tenants in the South and North East of Glasgow can contact Govan Law Centre's Prevention of Homelessness team for further advice and where possible legal representation: (t) 0141 440 2503.