All entries for Friday 18 January 2008

January 18, 2008

Landlord fails to pay back rent after not licensing property legally

Frustration with landlords is a major problem for many students at Warwick University. With many students living off campus in the Leamington Spa and Coventry areas in non-university run property, thousands of students rely upon individual landlords and estate agents. Last year saw problems for 2 houses of students living in the Leamington Spa area under part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 which is concerned with Mandatory HMO Licensing. Both lots of students were living in multiple occupation household, which are properties containing 5 or more persons who do not live as a single household and consisting of at least 3 storeys, but in both cases neither properties were licensed.

The landlord of the particular housemates, a Mr Bahi, had failed to license the corresponding properties as HMO’s and was therefore at fault of up to a possible fine of £20,000 as well as repaying up to 12 months rent. Warwick Student’s Union intervened on behalf of the students living in the properties and reached a compromise between the landlord and the tenants, where Mr Bahi would repay 50% of the rent paid in two instalments, one in December 2007 and in the following months. However, the landlord, whose assets were found to be around £2.5 million mark in a recent tribunal, has since reneged on this deal and no has not returned the £18,500 involved..

In a press release, Ed Callow, Welfare and Equal Opportunities Sabbatical officer at the Union said, “We are all disappointed and frustrated by this landlord’s attitude towards these groups of students.” He continued to say, “Other landlords should take note that this Union is not willing to simply stand by and watch whilst any of our members are treated in this way.” The Union now fully intends to pursue Mr Bahi through the courts in order to fully recover the rent costs and payment for any costs incurred in doing so.

We spoke to many students around campus today, one student commenting that “It really makes you worry about your second year off campus. In our first year everything was sorted out by the university, and I think people really need to be careful about their landlords, especially in cases like this.”

Chris Beckett
Business Correspondent

Union Election nominations open

“Get involved”, a pretty forward command from the Union on the day of the nominations open for the Presidency of the Union, Full time Sabbaticals and Part time Executive Committee members.

Collectively these make up 30 positions that are open to election. Key Full time Sabb positions open for elections are the Presidency of course, Societies Officer and Sports officer. There are also contests for the Executive Committee Officers, 8 in all, who work alongside the Sabs and are responsible for the day to day running of your SU. There is evidently not enough time to go into every role and its respective duties but there is bound to be plenty democracy about campus over the next few weeks so there will be no shortage of information.

So you decide you want to stand, well you would have needed to have attended the question and answer meetings held this week on Wednesday and Thursday. But if you didn’t, no matter. Use the website and emails to gain as much information as you can and your next few steps are as follows: candidates would nominate themselves online, complete the form online but also hand in a hard copy to the Union’s Democratic Services Office (with a £20 deposit, which should be a mark of candidate’s commitment)

Nominations close, again, at noon on Friday the 25th January, that’s week 3 and the day after candidate names are displayed. Manifestoes will ensue, so look out for a flurry of those. Official questioning of candidates will be held in February so think, ask questions and see which candidate could be delivering what you want from the Union next year; no doubt the Raw News will be teaming with questions too.
But what voting system does the Union use? It is a form of proportional representation known as the Single Transferable Vote, where you rank which candidate 1st, 2nd and 3rd and so on…The winning candidate needs to eventually secure a majority of votes cast, with lower ranked contenders being eliminated along the way.

So when do the students get to vote? The polls open at 9am on Wednesday 06 February. Note it down in your diary but also check the Union website as there appears to be difficulties in voter registration. According to the Union website, a problem that occurs frequently in elections, is that students are told they are not a current student, or that they don’t belong to their faculty etc. We are re assured however that this is a mere technicality because at during the registration process with the University a data protection box has been ticked meaning the Union would have no personal student details. This problem can be rectified upon a visit to the Union website’s elections page, just click ‘University Data Protection’. But apart from that minor issue, candidate information, news, opinion and the voting procedure can all be done online. That, along with active campaigning on campus, there is really is every reason to “Get Involved” in Officer Elections 08.

Rithee Pandya
Poltical Correspondent

Is there a link between Universities and the Arms Trade? – RaW News Investigates.

What could arms companies possibly have to do with universities? Who benefits from links between the arms industry and educational institutions? For a long time universities have been said to be under the sway of large arms production companies such as BAE systems. A recent report from Study War No More/Campaign Against Arms Trade, revealed further information on arms influencing academia. But do the findings hold true? Listen to both sides of the debate in this report.

Report by Rithee Pandya, RaW News Political Correspondent.

Please add your comments on the matter – they will feature in the next programme.

BBC Question Time comes to Warwick

David Dimbleby and the Question time panel came to Warwick Arts Centre on Thursday. The programme, which sources questions from the audience to be answered by a mixture of politicians and journalists, was aired on BBC 1 on the night at 10.30pm. Many students attended the recording of the programme, but most ended up in the silent section where they were effectively told that they would neither be seen nor heard. The recording ended less than hour before going on air.

Amongst the panel were Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, the political editor of the Daily Mirror Kevin Maguire and the author Louise Bagshawe. Of the questions posed by the audience, two came from Warwick students, regarding the alleged failure of the government’s ‘respect’ agenda and the problems revolving Northern Rock. The issue of Peter Hain’s ‘incompetence’ in light of his failure to declare funds was also raised, in addition to suitability of Barack Obama for the American presidency.

James Berragan, a Warwick student in the audience believed that it ‘was an engaging public debate with key public figures’. He thought that Chris Huhne ‘succeeded in dominating the debate’ but also believed Liam Fox did well. The Home Secretary came under attack for the controversy surroung Peter Hain’s position and the Northern Rock crisis. Liam Fox said that the government was a long way from the being tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime. Kevin Maguire also criticised the government for their argument that the government’s decision regarding police pay was to keep inflation under control .However, she fired back and accused Conservatives were accused of flip-flopping, re-iterating what Gordon Brown had said on Wedndesday at Prime Minister’s questions. As for Chris Huhne, he sought to distance himself from a suggestion from David Dimbleby that there was a ‘love-in’ between his party and Labour during the show.

It is the third time the long-running current affairs debate programme has been broadcast from the Arts Centre. The last time was in April 2006 which featured Carol Thatcher, and before that in October 2002. You can watch the programme again on the BBC website.

Or you can click here:

Sam Shirley
News Editor
(who managed to ask a question)

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