Category Archives: ILC Casework

Another Win for ILC!

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Congratulations are in order to the Debt & Consumer and Housing Units of ILC!

Both units have worked together closely in resolving a dispute regarding a housing association’s mishandling of billing tenants for the use of the district heating system.  It was a hard earned fight, but we received word from the Housing Ombudsmen Service last week that they have decided in favour of our clients.

Background

A group of tenants approached ILC early last year after receiving utility bills backdated 2 years (some bills were as high as £1,000!).  The reason for these arrears was due to the fact that ‘gas for heating and hot water’ was listed in the tenants’ service charges and as such, the tenants believed they were paying for this service as part of their rent.  The housing association attempted to back pedal and removed the ‘gas for heating and hot water’ aspect from the service charge; however, remained in their position that tenants were responsible for the past 2 years’ worth of utilities charges.

As social housing tenants, the majority of our clients are unemployed and/or in receipt of low income and not in a position to pay such a large amount out of pocket.  Their landlord is of course fully aware of these circumstances, but has paid no mind to such factors and continued to ask for payment.

A unique aspect of this case is the utilisation of a district heating scheme by the housing association.  District heating is a relatively new initiative and rather than draw energy from the city’s pipelines, these systems generate their own energy for a predetermined set of properties.  Such a network can be incredibly beneficial in terms of reducing the carbon footprint and costs for end users.

Unfortunately, the economic benefit of this system was lost on our tenants as the housing association failed to fully understand the scheme and bill their tenants properly.  This matter is further exasperated by the fact that district heating systems are not yet regulated by a governing authority.

After numerous attempts of settling this matter with the housing association itself, ILC lodged an application to the Housing Ombudsmen on behalf of 20+ tenants.

We are pleased to report that after a lengthy waiting period, the Housing Ombudsmen have decided in favour of our clients and have instructed the housing association to write off the backdated payment amounts.

Although a final outcome in this matter is still pending, the decision by the Ombudsmen is incredibly encouraging and we will continue to fight for the rights of our clients.

ILC Debt Win – Limitation Act

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ILC’s Debt Unit secured a win for one of its clients who was being pestered by a creditor for a credit card bill she (nor the creditor) had acted on since 2007.  Our client had been dealing with some personal issues and has been managing depression and severe anxiety.  She received a judgment against her for over £1,000 for this debt and came to the Law Centre in October 2014 for assistance.

The Debt Unit applied to have the judgment set aside and entered in a defence via the Limitation Act 1980.  The Limitation Act imposes time limits on claimants to enter in a claim against another party, and for our client, the creditor had 6 years to make a claim against her for this money.  The creditor’s solicitors attempted to circumvent the Limitation Act by presenting screenshots as evidence that our client had paid towards the debt in 2010 (and therefore, the time limit of 6 years would run from 2010).  We submitted evidence of our client’s bank statements and drafted a strong defence that the claim should be struck.

Our client was apprehensive about attending court and was anxious for the hearing.  Thankfully because of the hard work our Debt Unit put towards the defence, the creditor dropped the claim recognising that they are barred from pursuing our client in court for this debt.  This was a wonderful result for our client and helped to ease her stress and anxiety!

Limitation Act 1980

Many creditors will attempt to pursue individuals for old debts.  If you have not made a payment towards a debt in over 6 years, and the creditor has not corresponded with you regarding the debt in 6 years, they may be ‘statute barred‘ from pursuing you in court.

However, you must note that the debt does not simply go away.  Rather, a debt being statute barred means that certain types of actions (including court proceedings) are not available to the creditor anymore.  They may continue to write to you and demand payment, but a court judgment cannot be made against you for this amount.

For more information, please see the National Debtline’s Fact Sheet.

ILC Fights for Tenants’ Rights

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Our Debt and Housing Teams are currently in the middle of a potential class action, representing a group of tenants against their social landlord.  Tenants were lead to believe that their rent included payment for gas for heating and hot water via service charges.  So when they were issued with bills almost 2 years after moving into their flats for thousands of pound, the tenants were exceptionally shocked!  

Investigation into this matter found that the landlord had been wholly responsible for this mistake but yet were not accepting liability.  The Islington Law Centre has taken an active role in supporting these tenants to ensure that they receive the appropriate compensation by the landlord.  Watch this space for any developments and updates into this matter.

For general enquiries or to make an appointment: Call 020 7288 7630