An alternative business structure (ABS) specialising in property recovery and tenant evictions has been acquired by major property industry insurer Hamilton Fraser.
Landlord Action Limited, which became an ABS in autumn 2013, was purchased by H F Resolution Limited, a subsidiary of Hamilton Fraser, and plans to expand its fixed-fee landlord and letting agent-focused services.
Part of the original rationale for becoming an ABS was to help the firm stand out from the unregulated, internet-based competition among eviction specialists that Landlord Action itself helped to spawn.
The ABS claimed to have handled more than 35,000 problem tenant cases and “become a champion for landlords and… played an instrumental role in changing the law to make squatting a criminal offence in 2012”.
Paul Shamplina, who founded the firm in 1999, is an associate director of Hertfordshire-based Hamilton Fraser and has been a ‘brand ambassador’ at the insurer since last year. He fronts Channel 5 series Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords and advises the government on speeding up the eviction process.
Mr Shamplina told Legal Futures the ABS hoped to add to its three solicitors – Justin Selig, Emma Phillips and Timothy Frome – and was currently actively recruiting a paralegal. Additional services would include “legal contracts and other legal assistance that letting agents need with running their businesses.”
He added: “We are looking to introduce other legal services to the private rental sector and supporting landlords and letting agents [in order] to be specialist lawyers for letting agents, who sometimes can feel a little bit isolated
He would continue to “carry on with educating and campaigning for landlords and letting agents in an ever-more testing private rental sector – I am basically trying to raise standards in the sector”.
The intention was that the ABS would complement the services offered by Hamilton Fraser. Alongside property and cosmetic industry insurance products, it runs redress schemes for the two industries and a tenancy deposit protection service. It also provides indemnity insurance to letting and estate agents.
Mr Shamplina said: “Since I set up 17 years ago, a whole host of internet eviction companies have been set up, but they’re not regulated…
“Some of these unregulated providers fill in claim forms for landlords and as soon as there is a problem, the landlord suffers.
“There are a lot of companies that undercut solicitors but my motto is ‘cheap can always be expensive’.”
Eddie Hooker, chief executive of Hamilton Fraser, said: “Landlord Action has built an excellent reputation with a solid record for success and we have enjoyed working more closely with the team over the last few years.
“This next step is an opportunity for both companies to merge their industry experience and skills to provide a comprehensive suite of services to landlords and agents.”