“February—the month of love..?!! No wonder the shortest one in the calendar.” ― Dinesh Kumar Biran
“Though, February is short, it is filled with lots of love and sweet surprises.” —Charmaine J Forde
“February is the shortest month, so if you’re having a miserable month, try to schedule it for February.” ―Lemony Snickett
“I used to try to decide which was the worst month of the year. In the winter I would choose February. The reason God made February short a few days was because he knew that by the time people came to the end of it they would die if they had to stand one more blasted day.” ―Katherine Paterson
February is here! I have always liked February, for no particular reason, its not a birthday month for my family, its not a seasonally special month, lets face it I live in Glasgow, it could be 6 ft of snow, or a tropical heat wave, and that’s just from morning to night! 😊 I think it is because it was a month unlike the others, the one that was the shortest, sometimes with an extra day and the hardest name to spell.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, February is the third month of winter. Meanwhile in the Southern Hemisphere, February is the last month of summer. Between the North and South Hemispheres, February is the equivalent of August.
- Over time, the length of February kept changing. At one point, it had as little as 23 days.
- The length of February was finalized when Julius Caesar remade the Roman calendar and assigned the month 28 days and 29 days. In 713 B.C., February was officially added to the Roman calendar.
- In Welsh, February is sometimes known as “y mis bach” which means “little month.”
- The name of February comes from the Latin word “februum” which means purification.
- February was named after a purification ritual which was like an early Roman spring cleaning festival.
- The Saxons called February “Sol-monath” which means “cake month” because they would offer cakes to the gods during February.
- Of all the words you can misspell, February is one of the most misspelled words in the English language. Even the White House has misprinted the word “February” before in a press release!
- February is the only month where it’s possible to go the entire time without having a full moon.
- February, March, and November always start on the same day of the week unless it is a leap year.
- It was in February 1964 when The Beatles made their first American television appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” Over 73 million Americans watched!
First Ever Award for Wrongful Termination By Eviction order
An Edinburgh tenant has been awarded a first ever Wrongful Termination Order by the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland. In this landmark case, the landlord was ordered to pay £1,350 for evicting his tenant on false grounds.
Jesus Rodriguez-Ortega rented a studio flat from Cesar Dominguez-Lopez. When Jesus asked his landlord for repairs to the property, he was handed a notice to leave on the ground that the landlord intended to move into the flat.
Acting for the tenant, Community Help and Advice Initiative (CHAI) submitted the history of the tenancy to the First-tier Tribunal, as well as evidence that the landlord had threated his tenant with eviction. CHAI also argued that the landlord’s intention to move out of a three bedroom property he owned and lived in with his partner and their child, in order to move into the studio flat, was not credible. However, the Tribunal held that the requirements set out in the PRT regime for landlords seeking eviction had been met and it granted the order for eviction.
Tribunal’s ground-breaking decision
CHAI assisted Jesus further when he applied to the Tribunal for a Wrongful Termination Order. It was then proved that the landlord and his family didn’t move into the studio flat as claimed before the Tribunal in the original eviction action. In fact, the property was found to have been repaired and redecorated within less than a month, and also occupied by new tenants.
Having misled the Tribunal, the landlord was ordered to pay equivalent of three times the monthly rent under the original tenancy.
Commenting on the case, Andrew Wilson of CHAI and Project Manager for Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership, who represented the tenant, said: “Although the tenant was granted the Wrongful Termination Order, he should never have been evicted in the first place. The Scottish Government must act to ensure tenants have access to free expert assistance, but it must also revisit the standard of proof to be met for granting evictions from PRTs and other private sector tenancies. That can be done easily by retaining some of the emergency measures introduced to help counter COVID-19, especially the requirement for landlords to prove eviction is reasonable in the circumstances.”
He added: “Above all, this case demonstrates the importance of tenants being able to access free expert advice and representation. Tenants deserve assistance while good landlords and Scots society as a whole deserve the assurance that the law will be upheld and rogue landlords will be held to account for their actions. Yet the availability of such services is under real threat, especially with local authorities under pressure to cut expenditure.”
Eviction Ban in Scotland Extended
At the end of last year the Scottish Government introduced a temporary ban on evictions between 11th December 2020 and 22nd January 2021. However, due to a surge in COVID-19 case, the eviction ban has now been extended.
To stop people from needing to find a new home or move in with a different household, the Scottish Government has decided to extend the regulations which prevent bailiffs from enforcing eviction notices until 31st March.
The ban on evictions applies to all areas subject to Tier 3 and 4 restrictions, which currently is the whole of Scotland.
Commenting on the news, Scottish Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart said that extending the ban on the enforcement of eviction orders in the private and social rented sectors “will support tenants and offer people protection from transmission of the virus by being able to stay safe in their homes.”
He added: “It will also prevent additional burdens being placed on health and housing services during a time where they are already working hard due to the impact of the pandemic. This is a proportionate response to an extremely challenging set of circumstances.”
Exemptions from eviction ban
It is important to stress, that in any cases of criminal or serious anti-social behaviour, including domestic abuse, eviction notices can still be enforced.
Chief Executive at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Sally Thomas, said: “We are pleased that the government has kept the exemptions in place for such incidences.
“It is absolutely the right thing to do that we look after people’s health and well-being and we protect tenants who are struggling to pay their rent as a result of the financial effects of COVID-19, but it is of paramount importance that our members can act when there are cases of serious anti-social or criminal behaviour.”
The eviction ban is subject to review every three weeks to ensure it remains necessary to protect the public against the spread of the virus.
Is the standard of proof if evidence too low?
Following an award of the first Wrongful Termination Order earlier this month, the Scottish Labour Party is calling on the government to increase protection for private tenants from unfair evictions.
According to Labour, the recent case before the First-tier Tribunal in which the tenant was evicted on wrongful grounds, has exposed inadequate tenant’s protection under the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) regime. The standard of proof required for termination of a tenancy has been set too low for landlords to meet, leaving tenants vulnerable to eviction, claims the party.
Calls for amendments to the emergency measures
Therefore, Labour’s spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, urges the Scottish Government to review the current regulations to prevent wrongful evictions by imposing a duty on private landlords to provide proper, more substantial evidence supporting their decision to terminate a tenancy.
Ms McNeill says: “We simply cannot have landlords evicting people on unfair grounds in the middle of a pandemic.
“The time has come for the Scottish Government to listen to the voices of tenants and act to keep them safe.”
In a letter to Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, Ms McNeill writes: “I’m writing to you today to request that you revisit this issue and raise the standard of proof to be met for granting evictions from PRTs and other private sector tenancies. That can be done easily by retaining some of the emergency measures introduced to help counter COVID-19, especially the requirement for landlords to prove eviction is reasonable in the circumstances.
“Unless the Scottish Government can commit to secure and longer-term funding for housing and money advice, the services will not have the capacity to train and retain workers with the expertise and experience required.
“The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis means that, when periods for furlough and mortgage payment holidays come to an end along with business closures and redundancies, will mean that more people than ever will need the support of these essential services.”
What tenants miss during a virtual viewing
The devil is in the detail, so they say, however when it comes to property viewings, it is not than uncommon for prospective tenants to miss the little things when they are focused on the big picture.
A recent study conducted by the comparison website Comparethemarket, has found that the most common oversights during property viewings were damp and mould, poor electrics and plumbing, cosmetic issues related to walls, ceilings or internal fittings, as well as poor or no central heating.
Other issues missed until moving in were too few or inconveniently located plug sockets, poor water pressure and a lack of sunlight on the garden.
Interestingly, 13% of the respondents admitted that they didn’t feel comfortable doing a thorough check on a property during the viewing.
On the other hand, those who were comfortable, would often do a basic check only, including windows and frames, and cupboards and their doors. They would also ask about council tax and neighbours. However, they were least likely to lift rugs and move furniture to check underneath or video the viewing to play back in their own time.
Good old checklist
Having a checklist of things to inspect and a list of questions to ask a letting agent and/or the current occupier during a property viewing can help ensure that all the details get covered and nothing gets missed.
ARLA Propertymark has created a property viewing checklist which can be downloaded here.
Daryl Mcintosh, Strategic Development Manager for ARLA Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “The checklist is a great resource for Propertymark members to provide potential tenants. Whether it is a first home, or they have arrived from overseas it helps to answers many questions they may never have considered about asking until after they have moved in.
“From an agent’s perspective, not only does it demonstrate an in depth knowledge of the property, it helps in delivering a transparent and honest relationship with the potential tenant from the onset.”
This is the start of February, and it is the school holidays. I am going to take some time off Friday, Monday and Tuesday and do exciting things like paint some pipes and skirting boards and those niggly things that I never seems to get a chance to do while working from home!
Clearly this is a new world, way of working and way to spend annual leave(!)
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