Friday 13 August 2010

Sheriff reduces property factors bill by 55%

In the case of Walker Sandford Property Management Ltd v. Mushtaq, Sheriff Ross ruled today that a property factor was not entitled to charge a Glasgow consumer monthly interest at 2.5% (equating to 30% APR) as the consumer had never agreed to the factor's contractual terms and conditions.  

Terms and conditions needed to be expressly or impliedly agreed at the outset of the arrangement or adopted by the parties' clear, specific, unequivocal actions. Simply adding the terms and conditions to an invoice was never a way of having conditions adopted. Accordingly, the factor was only entitled to payment in terms of the title deeds, and no interest was chargeable at all in terms of the title deeds.  Such charges therefore fell to be deleted.

Sheriff Ross also reduced the sum charged for second and subsequent monthly reminder/demand letters by one-third from £12 to £8.  Overall the sum sued of £2,678.55, was reduced to £1,213.13, resulting in a 55% reduction in the customer's bill. The action was dismissed with no expenses due to or by either party. The defender was represented by GLC's Iain Nisbet, solicitor and partner, and the pursuer's by Messrs Peacock Johnson Solicitors.

In cases highlighted by BBC Scotland last year, Sheriff Rae expressed concern at the amount of penalties levied by Walker Sandford Property Management Ltd, and in the end the company agreed to drop all penalty charges and interest.  In the past, Walker Sandford had previously issued remider/demand letters on a weekly basis, but now do so on a monthly basis for customers in arrears.

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