Should Authorities Take More Responsibility When Paying Housing Benefits?Make Text Bigger
All Good Landlords detest the phrase “rogue landlords” but we have to accept they exist, just as rogue Police Officers and rogue Vicars do. The difference is that the Police and the Church take responsibility for their rogues, as do many other organisations.
What prompted me to write this post is that a “rogue landlord” was quite rightly prosecuted this week. He had converted a former hotel in Harlesden, into 26 studio flats without seeking council permission back in 2011. He was issued with an enforcement notice in March 2012, but failed to comply. The flats each measured between 9 meters squared and 20 metres squared, despite the minimum size for a studio flat in the capital being set at 37 metres squared and the building was reported as having poor insulation, thin walls, bad maintenance and insanitary conditions. The landlord has been issued with a £300,650 confiscation order and also ordered to pay £20,000 in fines and £18,268 to cover Brent Council’s court costs. He has been given three months to pay the confiscation order in full, which will be distributed between the government, the courts and the council.
What irks me is that Brent Council reports that the landlord housed over 100 vulnerable tenants, earning thousands of pounds by letting sub-standard accommodation. My natural inqusitiveness leads me to wonder:-
- Why was the payment of housing benefits authorised?
- Did the Council refer any of these vulnerable tenants?
- Should Councils be held accountable for making referrals and benefits payments in such circumstances? They may not know about the conditions of the property from day one but another question which I feel really ought to be asked is whether they continued to pay benefits after they learned about the conditions?
- Also, did the Council immediately re-house all of those vulnerable tenants as soon as they found out about the appalling conditions they were living in, and if not why not?
Perhaps somebody would like to file a Freedom of Information request to check and report back here?
The Council will benefit from the proceeds of the confiscation order, but will they take any responsibility for using the tax payers money to pay housing benefits to this landlord? This is a rhetorical question, OBVIOUSLY!
I look forward to reading your comments.
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