The final outcome was that the 1st Tier Property Tribunal Quashed the Notice.
This has now finally come to an end when the 1st Tier Property Chamber gave its final decision.
It may be of interest to many landlords.
It was a total Quash! Not a variation of the Notice!
Mr M### was with me for over five years. The following tenant, starting the next day, has now been with me for over four years. Such is the shortage of houses in Maidstone.
As is so normal the Council told Mr M### to sit tight until the Bailiff arrived as the Council would rehouse him. They forgot to say the had nowhere to rehouse him. They had no B & B available in Maidstone. In the end he ended in B & B in another Borough!
In all the cases over the years this was the worst case of a Council losing a perfectly good tenant his home.
IN THE PROPERTY TRIBUNAL FIRST TIER
STATEMENT OF CASE
- I purchased this house approximately 20 years ago.
- The Property has had the roof and chimney checked on three occasions to my knowledge albeit ### have no knowledge of it. The three occasions were:-
- Maidstone Borough Council/Kent Police after Cannabis was found being grown there. The whole thing was filmed by Maidstone Officers from Environmental Health. I suggest Mr ### might wish to check out the film made by the Council. Mr ### says he is not prepared to waste Council resources but the film must surely still be there.
- Application for assistance by Christopher Craddick to MBC and KCC involving the checking of the Chimney. Mr ### might wish to check the report.
- Police Investigation into Cowboy Builders who got £8,000 out of OAP Mr Gudge to repoint the rear of the Chimney. Again Mr ### may wish to check the report. The Council concluded it was not my chimney but Mr Gudges’. I believe Mr Gudge has now passed away. Even were it a shared Chimney I would not have the right to put in a cement fillet on the side. Originally it was £1500 but they returned for £6,500 more.
- I have had water come straight down the chimney of eight houses this last winter all about 120 years old. Never happened before but we have had an extraordinary winter. There is nothing to do. You just let it dry by opening windows. All eight houses are let and up and running. As to the scope of the repair work there is nothing to do.
- There is no hole in the roof contrary to what the Respondent says. There is a missing end of about six inches square at the joining of the barge board and soffit board but as there is no requirement to have either soffit or barge board it is outside the control of the Respondent Council. If however the Respondent holds there is such a requirement I invite him to include the reference in his response and explain how the Respondent’s Planning Department has given detailed planning approval for houses without either barge or soffit. Is Mr ### saying MBC has been negligent?
- There is no requirement to have insulation. If the respondent says there is then please point to it.
- The problem with Mr ### is that he cannot be wrong. Even when he is not right he is never wrong. The loft void has not been inspected by Mr Watts. To do so would have meant he acted unlawfully. As Mr Watts has entered the house to gather evidence without a warrant and hence unlawfully the respondent is estoppled from relying on it albeit he has not entered the loft void.
- This all started with Condensation albeit MBC has gone remarkably quiet. I have just dealt with a very similar case in Ashford at Canterbury County Court. Interestingly the Officers of Ashford Borough Council took the complete opposite view to Maidstone Council. I will include a copy of that Judgement in the bundle and indeed the Application to Set Aside which was refused. To succeed you need to have some meat on the bones. Where is the meat at 24? In non compliance with the directions there are “no data readings”. You cannot bring a case based on “gut feeling”. There must be some evidential basis in terms of data readings. There are none.
- My husband for his sins, and I am certain he had many before I arrived on the scene, worked for the Ford Motor Company as a Metallurgist and headed up a Quality Control Laboratory. He has a background of Objectivity not Subjectivity or gut feeling as the Respondent Council appears to use. He tested metal parts using precise objective tests. Did the metal meet the required Objective criteria or did it not? The basis was data.
- The Respondent does not say what the criteria is and what the readings were. Where is the objectivity? How do we know the standard was or was not met? The Respondent needs to go back to School.
- I attended with my husband the Condensation Seminar at Tonbridge & Malling Council. It is unfortunate that Mr Watts did not attend and listen. The handout formed the basis of my application to Strike Out at Canterbury County Court.
- I must say I was expecting something of the nature “we checked the tyre pressure and the reading was 18lb psi or we checked the Combi water pressure and the reading was 1.4mb and consequently we took the damp readings at (specific location) and the readings was whatever. A little of Who, What, Where, When, Why, How.
- Lord Denning’s Reasonable Man would say you have not taken the readings! How do you expect to substantiate your claim of Penetrating Damp?
- It seems to me that this case cannot go forward with the deficiencies of non compliance that exist at present. The Directions of the Procedural Judge were crystal clear. No readings have been given. Would you hang someone for murder on this level of evidence? I think not.
- Can the Respondent Council’s claim be amended to make it a case they can get home on? I suggest not. It is now warm weather and presumably the wall would now have a separate reading.
- I am rather annoyed about what Mr ### has to write about the tenant being in place. The problem with Councils is that they have a number separate sections and often Officers do not talk to each other.
- Mr M### indicated that the Application was not being defended and he expected a 14 day Possession Order. That is why I said there was no urgency. What Mr ### does not appear to know is that Housing Advice told him to stay in the house until the Bailiff evicted him. The Order was made for 23rd May, 2014.
- Only yesterday yet another Section of MBC contacted myself and referred to Mr M### as an Asylum Seeker. I had to tell the Officer he was most definitely not an asylum seeker and to my knowledge had never been one. I merely make this point to show that different Officers, from different departments, speak at different times on the same subject but individual officers do not necessarily know of the other.
- Mr ### appears to be suggesting I have misled the tribunal. What I wrote to the Tribunal at the time of not being urgent was correct because the tenant led me to believe he merely wanted a 14 day Possession Order. I shall take up what Mr ### has said separately as it is not a matter for the Property Tribunal. Mr M### is no longer occupying due to the very poor advice of Maidstone Council. The house was relet the following day. Mr ### lost the M### Family their home. With the approach of the Respondent Council the tenant is absolutely certain to lose his home. The Respondent is more interested in putting the boot into my husband than saving a roof over tenants’ heads.
- Mr ### says I Appeal every time. Well of course legally there is a Right to so Appeal. When I was doing up 9 houses in Maidstone near Hedley Street and it meant parking flatback vans etc to move bricks and so on. I picked up 9 Parking Tickets and I appealed 9 times and I succeeded at Appeal 9 times! Now who did not learn the lesson Mr ###?
- Mr ### perhaps is unaware that I made eleven applications in relation to CLD to the Planning Inspectorate and succeeded eleven times. No one is suggesting I was being vexatious or frivolous. The Officers took one view and I took another.
- I make the point of how badly this matter has been handled by MBC. Mr Watts knew I was unavailable on 3rd March and should have made an alternative appointment. He also should have advised the tenants on what to do. Instead he acted unlawfully by entering without a Warrant. If I had been there no Warrant is required.
- There is little love lost between my husband and Maidstone Borough Council which seems intent on loosing tenants their home.
- The bottom line is that the Respondent cannot succeed based on “gut feeling” and no readings to support allegations of penetrating damp.
- I will include in the bundle photographs of nearby houses without bargeboards and soffit boards. There is no statutory requirement to have them so I cannot be at fault.
- There is no statutory requirement to have insulation let alone 225mm of insulation. If Mr ### thinks there is then he should point to it. It seems to be an aspirational requirement by the Respondent without any basis in law.
- What Mr Watts says about black mould around the chimney is most unlikely to be due to any water ingress but poor air circulation. I would point out that Mr Watts has not presented me with the required Insurance Documents necessary to get on my roof and photograph or enter the loft space to photograph. It all seems to be the “gut feeling” of Mr Watts.
- My husband is very experienced and his specialist areas are Boilers and Condensation. He clearly knows more about what he is doing than both Mr Watts and Mr ###. There is a competence issue here which I shall raise with the Council in due course.