Council must re-house when tenant is given notice not wait for bailiffs – Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

by Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

11:48 AM, 5th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Council must re-house when tenant is given notice not wait for bailiffs – Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

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Council must re-house when tenant is given notice not wait for bailiffs – Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

In a groundbreaking decision, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has declared that a council should not have waited until the eviction date to rehouse a mother but should have rehoused her when she first informed it that she was being made homeless.

On 25th June 2020 The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that a local authority did not do enough to prevent a single mother and her family from becoming homeless. Click here

“A mother of six children, some of whom are disabled was asked to leave her privately rented accommodation. When the tenant was given notice she asked the London Borough of Haringey for housing assistance and instead of helping the mother to find appropriate accommodation before she was evicted, the Council told her to remain at the property until the eviction date.

“This was despite a senior housing manager with Haringey telling colleagues that this was not legally appropriate. So the council obviously knew it was acting outside the law.

“The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that Haringey should have helped the mother when she first informed them she was being made homeless, rather than waiting until the eviction date.

“The delay had caused distress and upheaval to the family having to move between hotels. The family received compensation of £1,500 from the Haringey.”

Phil Turtle, a director of Landlord Licensing & Defence commented: “Of course the plight of the poor landlord who like so many when faced with what had now been shown to be illegal action in advising tenants to stay until the bailiffs arrive, has been ignored. Often this process used to take 6-12 months usually with no rent and property damage. In the current climate of Covid-19 regulations, it is more like to be 18 months or more.”

“However, now the The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has made this finding, we must hope that it will set a precedent that Councils and organisations like Shelter are giving illegal advise when telling tenants they will not be rehoused until the bailiffs arrive. Of course, whereas the tenant received compensation, albeit it miserably small, there was no compensation for the landlord.”

Landlords who find that a council or organisation like Shelter has advised tenants to stay put until the bailiffs arrive should remind the council that they are breaking the law and refer them to the “Investigation into a complaint against London Borough of Haringey (reference number: 19 014 008)” where it was judged that then must rehouse immediately.


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Comments

Rudolph Banton

13:38 PM, 5th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

My situation we have a rental flat with our local council. In December 2019 the tenant found leak in the kitchen, then leaks from corroded copper pipe coming from the stack 'the communal area serving the block' reported it to the Council and they said we must pay for all repairs. I wrote to Leasehold advisory board and they advised if it's the communal area it's the Council's responsibility. We emailed a copy of the email from the Leasehold advisory board, to the Council who threatened us, if we don't pay they will do the work and take us to court for none payments! I emailed one of the councillor who did an investigation. In March 2020 the Council's repairs team went to the flat to investigate and found asbestos board covering the stack and said we must pay for those replacement repairs also. In June 2020 after much flooding and the tenant left without the council ever saying they would rehoused the tenants and their young family of one child about 5 years old! After the work done, removing the asbestos and replacing the corroded copper piping around the stack. I received a bill for approx £295.00, not the over £5000.00 requested by the Council. I questioned the £295.00 charge because it came in codes that made no sense to me. Eventually I got an answer maybe to do with the repairs work. But I haven't paid it and I am continually getting threats from the Council for the amount including Council tax and service charges! Due to flooding of the whole floors and lost of rent we made a claim from the service charge insurance. Got two quotes for about £17,000 and above. The Insurance lost adjustor came had a look took pictures said he would send a damp specialist to do some tests. Roughly about a month went by before the damp specialists arrived and carried some tests and found bitumen asbestos all over the floors. These are flats with 58 apartments and there are roughly about 6 of these high rise flats with the same claddings and double glazed windows. The Council also put out a major works programme to change the windows claddings etc. Surely the Council must have been aware of the asbestos stacks and flooring on all blocks and never let on to the residents? And they are still not admitting anything. The claddings could possible not fire proof. Over the many years these flats were built Leaseholders and tenants who lives in these flats has been replacing floors and not realising they were taking in asbestos, damaging their lungs etc and that of their children! What can be done now as these flats are not save to live in and human damage caused? I have sent emails to the housing ombudsman and the Leaseholder advisory board without response, as yet! Not sure if us and tenants haven't been exposed to asbestos because we had the flooring changed to laminate! Stay safe. Rudolph

Ron H-W

9:37 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Does anybody think that Councils would take the (hitherto) usual line of "If you leave before the Bailiff is on his way, then you would be making yourself intentionally homeless and would therefore no longer qualify for Housing Benefit" - even in cases where the Council itself was the landlord? (Ah, those were the days! before the big sell-off)

Lee Bailey

9:39 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

This seems very positive.

Mick Roberts

9:42 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

This has been rules for years now, then more so with the Homeless Reduction act thing.
We all know Councils try to wiggle out of it looking for the tiniest error in Landlords paperwork. Delay the process, hurt the Landlord. Which next time makes it even worse for the next tenant as he she can now not get a house cause this Landlord has packed up or left it with Letting Agent who don't let the 'average' tenant have a house.

Great words Phil giving Landlords the choice to quote this case for their next chat with Council.

terry sullivan

10:27 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

groundbreaking????--this edict was issued 20+ years ago--councils ignored the edict then and probably will now--ombudsman has very few powers--should be able to fine the chief exec of any council defying the rules

Ron H-W

11:27 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 06/10/2020 - 10:27
Terry, could you please give a pointer to this older stuff? (of 20+ years ago) I'm sure loads of people might find it useful. Thanks!

Trisha

11:47 AM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

This awful practice should have been stopped ages ago but they carry on and I am sure they still will. Why?......cos a measly £1500 fine is cheaper than keeping a homeless person in a hotel for 6 months, plus they never have to compensate the landlord. Unless the landlord wins against them for considerable losses nothing will change.

Mike T

12:43 PM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

'Council must re-house when tenant is given notice not wait for bailiffs' ? Given notice as in being served Form 6A / Section 21 ?? Or Only when the landlord has had to go to court to get a repossession order/eviction notice ??

Robert Mellors

13:01 PM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

This article said the same thing two years ago, and also made reference to the letter from the Housing Minister.
https://www.property118.com/best-practice-letter-template-go-eviction-notices/

terry sullivan

13:46 PM, 6th October 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ron H-W at 06/10/2020 - 11:27
hi

i was a cllr 2002-2006 and was able to get hard copy of housing ombudsmans report--it was in one of the reports--i no longer have the report

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