How we helped tenant get compensation – and more punishment for a rogue roofer
In December, Sarah Burgess investigated how a tenant was being landed with demands for large energy bills because an estate agent had switched her energy supplier without telling her – or her landlord!
A clause deep in a contract appeared to allow this, but when we raised the issue with the estate agent – William H Brown – and the energy supplier SSE – they both said they were investigating.
Now the tenant has been given £500 compensation and an apology by the estate agent, but she wants them to go further and remove this “underhand” clause in contracts completely.
The Property Ombudsman says the clause to switch energy suppliers should always be an “opt in” rather than “opt out”, so there is absolutely no excuse for this continuing, especially when we are all trying to find ways to reduce our energy bills.
A roofer who ripped off his customers was back before the courts this week after some of his victims read about his antics in the Eastern Daily Press.
Last February we reported how Wesley Theobald, from Swaffham, took money for work which he never carried out.
After reading that article, two more of his customers contacted Norfolk Trading Standards and their investigators were then able to charge him with further offences.
He has now admitted four more frauds and on Wednesday at Norwich Crown Court he was sentenced for those crimes.
Most shockingly was the fact that he continued to rip-off one elderly couple after pleading guilty to his earlier frauds. The pandemic had delayed his sentencing which meant there was five months between him admitting the frauds and actually being jailed. In that time, he took another £2,500 from a couple for materials which he never bought and work he never carried out.
Lots of councils have been tempted in recent years to borrow cheap money to buy commercial property and then use the rent to provide public services.
But this strategy is far riskier than traditional council investments and is controversial.
For an example of how wrong this can go, look no further than Barnham Broom Golf and Country Club.
It was bought by Breckland Council in 2006 for £7m, plus £1.2m for taxes and cost another £2m of public money to renovate.
However, the investment has gone south. We understand the council is now trying to sell the venue for a mere £2m. That is a 70pc fall on the initial purchase price 17 years ago.
It could have done pretty much anything else with its money (including sticking it under a mattress as one council source points out) and got a better return.
The council has handled the whole affair in private and not told the public a thing. We think that’s wrong because it is public money it is betting on these potentially risky investments.
An £8m loss (if you include the taxes and renovation costs) is very significant for a small council like Breckland. Its leaders need to stop hiding behind closed meeting room doors and explain to its taxpayers fast how it got things so badly wrong.
That is all for now. We hope you’re having a great weekend and we’ll have lots more for you this time next week. If you are finding our newsletter interesting, please pass on to a friend. They can sign up here and do get in touch with any comments or issues you would like us to look at.