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Bankruptcy in Scotland:  The law is an ass ? 

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I enjoy writing as it can be theraputic. But this is only the 3rd post I have done this year. And it will soon be the end of June. Half the year gone.

This is because I am still horribly limited by my ME and can manage to do very little. Everything takes me ages to recover from. Maybe 90% of the time I’m sleeping, resting or recovering. Some days a bit better.  And some even worse – when in bed 24 hours out of 24.

Resting or recovering isn’t much different from sleep for me. Well, apart from not having nightmares when awake. But I’m usually unable to do anything. Just pretty much non-functional. It feels like attempting anything, no matter how small, triggers off an increase in symptons. Which is miserable.

The Bankruptcy stuff is STILL ongoing. Since 2014. Shock after shock after shock. A constant battering to my health. And my husband’s health. It has been endless.

And is actually getting worse.

In my 2nd last post I had appealed for a solicitor to help. Because I was being sued by a property factor for their factors bills dating back to 2014. These bills were for their regular management charges, plus general repairs and maintenance.  And of course I was very shocked at this.

The property was one of my 14 buy-to-let flats which were handed over to the Trustee In Bankruptcy in 2014. When my health totally crashed.  All correspondence, bills, statements etc have been getting posted onto the Trustee every week since 2014. (By my husband as I have rarely been well enough to get out.)  And the point of this was that the Trustee would deal with everything. Handle everything.

That is what I was told by the bankruptcy Adviser. That was why I was advised that bankruptcy was the best option for me, as I understood it. And why I accepted this. To “give away” the properties and all responsibility for them. I was too unwell to even think about trying to sell them myself. I wouldn’t have wanted to do this anyway at that time. I would have waited until the property values had improved. As to sell then would just have resulted in many shortfalls against the mortgages.

I know I have laboured this point before. In this post – The Bankruptcy Stuff Keeps Getting worse.

And this one – A Long Slow Road. (This is quite a long post about various things. The comments about Bankruptcy are in the 2nd section.)

And this one – Unwanted Visitors.

And this one – My Life So Far – Not What I Expected.

But it is all the more shocking to me the more that happens and the more I find out.

IF I understand correctly what has happened recently :  It seems the original owner of the property (ie. me) is still liable for payment of bills like Factors bills from ONE DAY after their bankruptcy date. Up until the date the flat is either sold by the Trustee or legally taken back (ie. repossessed) by the mortgage lender.  Even if this takes years and years.

In this particular case it has taken years. From 2014 until March 2017 in the case of this flat. Almost 3 years. 3 years for the mortgage lender to repossess a property which was empty. Not tenanted. And no mortgage payments getting paid on it.  And its not just this flat. As I understand it – there are still 2 other flats left.  Therefore it would seem I still legally own these also.

Jesus wept . . . .

Just to talk about this a bit further.

As I understand it – all rents that were paid by tenants are taken by the Trustee. Even if any had been paid to me by the letting agents – the Trustee still gets them. As bank accounts get frozen.

But I am still meant to (legally) pay all these bills. I mean, seriously . . . . ?   And how am I meant to do this ? Or any other ex-landlord in the same situation.

To give a more extreme (but simple) example :

If a bankrupt landlord owned 100 flats. And they were all tenanted. All these rents would be taken by the Trustee In Bankruptcy. And if the Trustee doesn’t sell the flats themselves and the mortgage lender takes 3 years to actually repossess them – the bankrupt ex-landlord is still liable for all these bills. So the Trustee would get 3600 rents (monthly rents for 3 years).  But the landlord would still be legally liable to pay 3600 factors bills (if the factors bill monthly).  Does he/she magic the money to pay these out of thin air ?

IF this is the law – then the law really is an ass.  (I’m in Scotland. I don’t know if it is the same in England.)  I can still hardly believe it. It seems so unreasonable.

I have requested my solicitor to email me the details of where this is wtitten in the bankruptcy legislation. ie. The name of the Act and location (section, paragraph, whatever) of where this be found.  Not that I really know what I’ll do with this once I have it. But I need to be able to actually see it for myself. And it should be made widely known I think.  So that nobody else can be given the advice we were, without being told of these consequences.

Another point is : If any flats have been empty (not tenanted) a while – it gets even worse. As council tax bills build up too after exemption periods have been exhausted. Exemptions usually only last 6 months.

This then implies that utility bills for any empty flats, or empty periods, are my responsibility too. Where the supplier applies a standing charge.

This particular flat had been empty for quite a while before it was given to the Trustee in 2014.  Possibly a year, but maybe longer.  This was because the letting agent could not get any tenants for it. As I think the communal areas had deteriorated and fallen into a poor condition. This was because the previous firm of property Factors (who eventually went bankrupt themselves) failed to deal with any repairs or maintenance.

The irony of this is not lost on me . . .

Now I do realise (or assume) that when most people go Bankrupt they do not have a choice.  Because finances and debts have got to such a position where there is just no way to rescue things.  But my situation was different. As mentioned in previous posts – our assets well exceeded the debts.  But voluntary Bankruptcy was taken purely because the Bankruptcy Adviser clearly said that the Trustee would deal with everything. Take everything off my hands. All mail, demands, forthcoming  threats (once things stopped getting paid),  phone calls, etc,  just had to be passed onto the Trustee.  (And we knew we had to pay a big price for this financially and emotionally. The loss of our home of 15 years and all the equity in it. It was no easy option or get-out.)

At the time of getting the bankruptcy advice nothing was in arrears. Everything was getting paid and there had been no missed payments.  I was even still getting 0% credit card offers thru. My credit score (with Experian) had been 999 (the highest in the Excellent range) for a long time. Although it had dropped down a level by early 2014 – to the Very Good range I think. I suspect because the amount of capital debt was rising, even though nothing was in arrears.  It was getting harder though – but that was more because of my health.  This previous post from Feb 2013 gives an example.

I know they say ignorance of the law is no excuse. And it seems to be no defence either. But seriously – would anyone reasonably expect this to be the case?  Even my administrator at the Trustee said she would dispute the claim because it wasn’t my fault all those factors bills had built up. Plus the fact that I have no income or savings with which to pay, or even make a payment arrangement. (This wasn’t legal advice of course. She told me the Trustee do not have any in-house solicitors that could advise me.)

To add insult to injury – I have no way of knowing if any of the work billed for by these Factors has actually been done. Plus – I don’t even have the bills I am being forced to pay. They were all sent onto the Trustee over the last 3 years. (Everything has been sent onto them. It is what we were told to do.)  Then everything regarding the Factors claim was sent to the solicitor.

Words cannot describe how unjust this whole situation feels.

Now this same firm of Factors have started more court proceedings for “planned maintenance” bills.  The next one is for £4900.00 and has been allocated a claim number for court.  And they have stated they will be further suing for yet another amount for “planned and ongoing maintenance” – this time for a sum below £2000.00 .

In addition, the council for the Motherwell area where this flat is (North Lanarkshire Council) have now sent me a demand for almost £2600.00 for council tax. It was delivered by sherriff officers acting for the council. I  sent it the Trustee right away. As they are still administering my Bankruptcy. They have now sent it back to me and suggested I ask the solicitor about it.

We cannot afford to pay for any more legal help. Husband has been working 7 days a week for a while now to be able to pay for the recent legal fees.  And towards repaying the friend who very kindly gave us a cheque to settle the factors demand. 

Neither of us would be able to obain any loans now as our credit records will be utterly trashed as a consequence of the bankruptcy.  And hubby working 7 days a week is hard – given that I can hardly do anything around the house. And he does almost everything.  Just a week or two ago he had the lovely task of emptying plastic jugs I was having to use in the bedroom – as I was too ill to manage to the bathroom. Too much info I know, but this is how bad it can be. And scrunching up A4 envelopes so I could use them to breathe into (like a paper bag) when I felt panic attacks coming on.

How much more can he be expected to do?

And how much more battering can my health take ? Or husband’s.

Trying to communicate with the solicitor over the last few months has taken a massive amount out of me.  If I was well enough to do this sort of thing I wouldn’t have needed to consider voluntary bankruptcy in the first place.

It was made harder for me as I don’t think they could understand how bad ME actually is, especially when symptoms are severe.  For example : how do you sucessfully communicate how bad your brain fog (aka cognitive dysfunction) is – when this is one of my worst symptoms?

Sometines I wondered if they actually thought I was exagerrating about how limited I am. And how long it takes me to “recover” from the exertion involved in a simple thing like an email or a phone conversation. A simple thing to them but a very exhausting thing for me. Always triggering a big worsening of ME symptoms and being more ill for days on end.  And I found myself trying to explain over and over how badly limited I am. Then giving examples. Not because I was looking for sympathy or anything. But because all this legal and court stuff have time limits set. And I was terrified of what would happen if I couldn’t do things in time. This was so exhausting and I had been hoping for some reassurance that some accommodations could be made if needed.

I don’t know what to do now.

I’m really not well enough to use the internet to look for ideas. Or make longish phone calls. I don’t mean these things are impossible 100% of the time. But I can only manage a very short time doing things without it making me more ill. Then I’m knocked out for days.  And I get nothing done.

I can’t think straight about any of this. The only thing I do know for sure – is that bankruptcy has been a terrible option in my situation.  3 years of Hell for mothing.

Any suggestions would be welcome. (About the forthcoming claims.) Any info that might be helpful would be great, eg. phone numbers, websites, email addresses.

Thanks for reading.

PS.  I haven’t put the links in yet – where I’ve mentioned previous posts.  Will add soon.

A Long Slow Road

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image

Everything is very very slow.

HEALTH/ME :

Trying hard to get a bit better health-wise.
But it’s like walking such a fine line with ME.
Do just that bit too much and the payback is punishing. You crash, so many symptoms go thru the roof, and it feels like back to square one again. Then you rest to recover, try to build up a bit, feel a bit better, physically stronger, some more energy. And you try to do something big – like just go out!
Then wham and crash – all over again.
This condition is such a nasty piece of work. And I have to manage it on my own.
No medical help at all.
Last weekend I managed to get out twice – late on the Friday and also the Sunday afternoon. This was marvellous and I enjoyed both so much. But then “crash” – and I had to spend most of the last 6 days in bed again. I’m not even going to bother detailing all the different symptoms as I’m so sick of them.
But its not easy.
And painfully slow.

BANKRUPCY STUFF :

This is painfully slow too.
I don’t mean the waiting to be discharged from bankruptcy. This can happen after 1 year – or it may take up to 3 years. And of course is on your record for ever. Well, 6 years I think is technically correct. But as good as forever I feel.

That’s not the problem.

The problem for me is the amount of mail, phone calls etc that I still get from people like mortgage lenders, etc. And the adverse effect it has on me every time.
Last week alone my husband posted off 3 big A4 size envelopes stuffed full of letters, demands, threats, etc to our Trustee In Bankruptcy. We try to send any mail on every week. Last week was admittedly worse than usual – but even then.
It’s not ideal.
And this is maybe 18 months after we first took advice from the bankruptcy adviser.
And later decided to proceed. My health had totally crashed to my lowest ever level of functioning in Feb 2014 so I really felt this was the best, if not the only option.
All this time – and still it all goes on and on.
Nobody seems to even acknowledge that we are Bankrupt. The Trustee say Yes they tell everyone. But still I am being pestered.
Getting to the stage (again) that I don’t even want to switch on my mobile phone. Because of missed calls, voicemail messages, etc. This isn’t good because I still want to be able to use text messages at times, or maybe listen to calming music on the U Tube app in the phone. Even if I can do very little else some days.

I think I have said this before – this process has been torture for me. And has had the effect of worsening my ME overall. I have more symptoms now than when it started.
Plus recurring nightmares over the last 18 months.
My automatic stress response to this stuff is very heightened now. Very over sensitive. The smallest of things sends my nervous system into orbit some days. And this triggers off so many debilitating symptoms (eg, the severe headaches). It’s automatic and just happens without any thought about it. Or choice. And it takes ages (sometimes days or more) for me to “come down” again. And for the symptoms to lessen.

Basically, my whole nervous system feels like it is in shreds.

And the point of the Bankruptcy (the WHOLE point) was to give away all control of everything to a Trustee In Bankruptcy. So they would deal with everything and everybody. Most especially all the properties and all the mortgage lenders.
That was what we were told would happen.
If I was able to continue to do stuff like this – then I wouldn’t have chosen voluntary Bankruptcy in the first place.

If I had a pound for every time I’ve said this over the last 12 months . . . .

I do realise that people may read this and think – yeah, but you must have been in a big mess financially ?

And yes, of course debts had accumulated. I had been hemorrhaging money over a few years leading up to Feb 2014 because my health had been getting even worse. I mentioned this in a previous post somewhere.
BUT – if I had been able to keep going then these would have been cleared in a few years by selling maybe 2 or 3 properties. But I couldn’t keep going – as there was no way of getting a reasonable break from everything.
ALSO – if it was just about financial reasons then we could have sold our home ourselves. Rather than handing it over the the Trustee. They sold it at a cheap price (as expected). And within just a week.
And the profit made (or equity released) was approx £150,000.00. No small sum.
Plus our 3 mortgage Endowments were taken from us and cashed in. (This was a total shock.) Producing over £40,000.00. Again, no small sum.
So we “gave away” almost £200,000.00 in “available assets” to the Trustee.
My business debts (property debts) when my health crashed early 2014 were nowhere near this sum. And at this point everything was being paid ok, nothing was in arrears, no missed payments or anything like that.
I was even still getting 0% balance transfer offers from a few of the credit cards that I was using for business cashflow and expenses.

So the issue wasn’t the amount of debt being carried – but more the fact that I could do no more. Physically (and mentally) I had nothing left.

So everything given up in return for Bankruptcy = a Trustee taking over and dealing with everything = total rest and peace of mind for me = the chance of my health improving.

It has been nothing like this.

I have no idea what’s going on. And it’s very hard to get anything in writing.
From day 1 – I begged for everything in writing. From the bankruptcy adviser and then from the Trustee In Bankruptcy.
(Because of my health and most especially the brain fog.)
But it just doesn’t happen.

But I know the only way thru this – is to go thru it.
And short of medicating myself into a stupor with perhaps very strong anti-depressants – I just have to take it.

GP PROBLEM :

After 10 months of trying – I’m not much further on with getting an ME friendly GP or any help or support.
The health centre I was trying to join – I had to admit defeat. And give up. A GP there had been mentioned as being good. But the staff (a nurse and 3 different medical receptionists) had no knowledge or time for people with ME. They just kept telling me to do things I wasn’t able to do. And were abrupt and totally lacking in any understanding or patient care. Every interaction I had (one appointment and 3 phone conversations) resulted in just making me more ill with the upset and stress of it.
These people are being paid salaries to treat people like this.
So it was 9 months of time and energy wasted for me.
As I’ve said before – you need to be much more well to be able to cope with this sort of stuff.

However, I think I am now successfully registered with a new small GP surgery.
I say I think – because I haven’t had any card from the health board or anything in writing to confirm this yet. The receptionist said I should get a card to confirm after a few weeks. Hasn’t arrived yet. But hubby phoned and the receptionist said it was OK.
This surgery is small with just one GP. But there was no in-person appointment with a nurse or GP required to apply to join. Just a form which was fairly simple. OK, it still took me ages to complete with the brain fog, headaches, etc. But fairly simple by most people’s standards.

The only thing is – I have no idea what the GP’s view and attitude towards people with ME is yet.
I will just have to hope for the best . . .
Anyone reading this who has no experience of ME may think I am over-worrying about this.
Here are just 2 examples from folk on twitter very recently of how it can be :

example 1
A sufferer’s GP told her father that he “didn’t believe in ME” and that it was “a charter for malingerers” .
This resulted in a long standing family break up. As it presumably resulted in the person’s father disbelieving his daughter and giving no support.
Which to be honest is absolutely unforgivable. But the GP did terrible damage here.

example 2
A male sufferer changed to a larger health centre to try to get better treatment, more respect.
There were 8 GPs in this health centre.
Over time (probably a long time) he found out that 7 out of the 8 GPs did not believe in ME. And only 1 did.
At least there was one.
But that’s a rate of 88℅ who would treat you poorly at that centre. And just 12% who would be likely to give you any support at all.

I do hope this isn’t reflective of the nationwide average . . . .

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Ok, thats all for now.
Incredibly exhausting to write all this. Much longer than I planned.
But it is therapeutic.

My Work Is Killing Me

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My Work Is Killing Me

Couldn’t get back to sleep – the racing brain again.

Thoughts rushing around at 100 miles an hour, lots of different work ideas, many contradicting each other, cannot decide what best to do over 2 o/s issues from yesterday, lots of other o/s problems rushing into my mind that need dealt with too, all important things (as I deal with Property – everything has a financial effect or knock-on and a financial penalty if ignored too long).
But I cannot focus on anything properly.

My concentration is shot to pieces – and its only 6.30 am. Not even out of bed yet or started my day.

And have the bad headache back again.
It started chewing away at my head as soon as my thoughts turned to my work. But don’t want to take painkillers just yet. (only 4 left in the house – but that’s a separate problem !)
So decided to type a post for my blog instead.
As my hope is that getting this out (of my head) will help release stress therefore help my damned CFS symptoms . . .

Don’t want to go into too much detail here about yesterday’s property problems – as it will be on the boring side. (And I plan to start another blog about this.)

But the No 1 item in my head is the unhelpfulness of the banks.

In particular a bank I spoke to on the phone last night for around 30 mins.  I mean we all know it’s the credit crunch – but honest to god – they could not be more difficult or awkward to deal with if they tried.
I was left feeling that I wished I hadn’t bothered as it turned out to be such a waste of my time and my energy. Both as valuable to me.
Still – I should be grateful that at least it wasn’t India.

I am sure this is the No 1 reason for so many small business going to the wall.

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