Check Your Contract Of Employment

It is crucial to carefully read your contract of employment, which might set out the notice period your employer is obliged to give you or more generous redundancy terms. You are entitled to work out at least the notice period or be offered pay in lieu of notice.

Notice Period

When you are made redundant, you must be given a notice period as set out in your contract or according to statutory regulations. You must be given at least one week’s notice period if you were employed between one month and two years, one week’s notice for each year if you were employed between 2 and 12 years and 12 weeks’ notice if you were employed for 12 years or more. Your contract can only be ended without a notice if your employer pays you in lieu of notice.

Consultation with Employer

If you are being made redundant, you are entitled to a consultation with your employer, where they have to...
With high unemployment rates and a rather unstable economy, many British employees have experienced or are worried about redundancy. According to Credit Action, a UK charity, 1432 employees were made redundant every day between June and August this year. Being made redundant can bring emotional as well as financial problems, but if you make sure that you know your rights and have some alternative plans for redundancy, you can certainly reduce its negative effects. As Philip Fisher, Head of Employment Taxes at accountancy firm, PKF advises: “Be prepared, know your rights and understand what is likely to happen and when.”
 

Redundancy & Dismissal

 
Being made redundant is not the same as being fired for unsatisfactory performance. Redundancy means that your employer is reducing its workforce and your job disappears as a result of your firm being reorganised, overtaken or simply having financial problems....
According to a recent consumer study by Which?, over a quarter (26%) of British homeowners with mortgages are worried about their homes being repossessed and 50% find rising mortgage rates worrisome.
 
Those most concerned are typically aged between 30 and 49 and have recently purchased a property. Many are even younger and are struggling to buy their first home. Recent home buyers have to pay high mortgage interest rates and feel trapped in their current rates, unable to find a better deal. The average weekly housing-related costs are over £50 more for recent property owners than for the average UK household that pays £135 a week.
 
Rising rents, flat wages and increasing living costs also mean that many potential home-buyers in their early 30s or late 20s find it increasingly difficult to save up for the first deposit and get a foot on the property ladder.
 
Executive...
According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), mortgage lending in September was 10% lower than in August, reaching only £11.6 billion, compared to £12.9 billion last month. This figure for September also shows a 15% fall compared to £13.7 billion in September 2011. Gross lending for the third quarter of 2012 at £37.3 billion shows an 8% increase compared to the second quarter, but is a 5% fall compared to the third quarter in 2011.
 
Decreased demand for new homes and languishing remortgage activity have contributed to the decline in mortgage lending, despite better mortgage availability. Besides this report by the CML, a recent Bank of England survey has also pointed out the possibility of a further downturn in lending in the coming month.
The recently introduced Funding for Lending scheme was one factor that contributed to the wider availability of mortgages. The Funding for Lending Scheme launched in...

According to an investigation carried out by the housing charity, Shelter, complaints against landlords have increased by 27% over the last three years. Shelter submitted freedom of information requests to 326 English councils and the responses from 310 local authorities have shown that complaints rose from 67,283 to over 85,500 since 2008.

From the more than 85,500 complaints, 62% regarded serious and life-threatening hazards, and health services had to be involved in over 780 cases. The number of successful prosecutions against landlords was 487 last year, which is a 77% increase and reflects that local councils are being more pro-active in following up on complaints against landlords.
 
Chief Executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb added that there could potentially be many more living in homes that are not safe and commented: “Some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining...

According to new research by Moneyfacts, mortgage fees have increased by 70% in the last four years and have reached a record high of £1514, which is a significant rise compared to the average fee of £889 in 2008. Between August and September, fees for example have increased by an average of £42.

The average fee for a two-year fixed mortgage is £1565, while the average fee for a five-year fixed term mortgage is just over £1000. The highest fee, however, is significantly higher than average fees at £3,990, and offers an interest rate of 3.79% for a five-year fixed rate mortgage. Mortgages offering more favourable rates for home buyers are typically the ones that have the heftiest fees, but it’s still possible to avoid paying too much in fees. The Post Office for example offers an interest rate of 3.59% for a five-year fixed rate mortgage and has no fee at all.

Sylvia Waycot of Monefacts.co.uk sees no logical reason behind this...

Squatting in residential properties is a criminal offence since the beginning of September. The new regulation means that those found squatting in residential properties will face a prison sentence of up to 6 months, a fine of £5,000 or both.

Ministers said that the new law would offer better protection of the rights of homeowners, but some campaigners have pointed out that the new law would further criminalise vulnerable people and would lead to an increase in homelessness. While the protection of homeowners is certainly crucial, even the Law Society has expressed criticism regarding the new regulation, pointing out that the new squatting offence puts further strain on legal aid resources.
 
Previously, the owner of a residential property that has been occupied by squatters had to start court proceedings in order to lawfully evict squatters, which often took up to three months to conclude.  Homeowners were still quite well...

Mortgage lending has increased by 8% compared to June, to its highest level since September, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Gross mortgage lending rose to £12.7bn and is up by 2% compared to the £12.5bn lent out in the same period last year. While July’s figure still doesn’t reach the levels of the summer of 2007 when the housing market was at its peak, it is a positive sign for the UK market.

Mortgage lending so far in 2012 has been up and down, due to a variety of one-off factors, such as the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee and the end of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers in March; which contributed to an increase in purchases at the beginning of the year. As Caroline Purdey, market and data analyst at the CLM comments: “Interpretation of recent trends continues to be challenged by one-off effects. We look forward to the September figures when the distorting effects of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics should...

Renting one or more of your properties can be a good investment and an additional stream of income. It’s important to know that landlords just as tenants have responsibilities and rights and some of these may not even be included in the tenancy agreement. A breach of the tenancy agreement or property law can even lead to the tenant suing the landlord. In this post, we have outlined some of your basic rights and responsibilities as a landlord. If you are looking for more specific legal advice, contact us for more information.

A Landlords’ Main Obligations and Responsibilities

  • Maintain the property and make repairs when necessary, including the exterior of the property and the structural components.
  • Maintain and repair electrical, plumbing and heating systems where necessary.
  • Ensure the safety of gas and electrical appliances.
  • Remove an animal insect infestation.
  • To...

HSBC has announced that it will be dropping the controversial CQS scheme following a high volume of complaints from both customers and lawyers alike. As of August this year, HSBC will allow all members of the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme to act for HSBC as well as its mortgage customers.

This move will increase the number of law firms that customers can choose from to more than 1,400. Previously, HSBC mortgage borrowers were forced to instruct one of a panel run by Countrywide to act for the lender. The panel consisted of 43 firms chosen by the bank to do their legal work. Alternatively consumers could opt to push forward and use their own representation. However, this would mean that they would have to pay more for their conveyancing as there is an additional charge of £192 plus £160 VAT for HSBC's lawyer. There have also been reports of...

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