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

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

11:48 AM, 5th October 2020, About 2 years ago 18

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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.



Comments

John Frith

14:34 PM, 6th October 2020, About 2 years ago

The reality is that, for many, getting a council house is like winning the lottery, and so the council policy is set up to stop the flood by creating obstacles - and obviously they turn a blind eye on how that harms tenants and landlords. The fact is that policy decides the budget, and at the front lines it doesn't matter what "should" happen, the budget inevitably dictates that only a few will be rehoused.
It does seem to me that the council's legal Achillees heel is if they say that a tenant is making themselves intentionally homeless if they leave before the bailiffs come. This discriminates against someone who wants to honour his contract with the landlord.
Shelter, do you fancy taking this on as a test case? Now that would be something I'd consider a win-win.

Rudolph Banton

14:55 PM, 6th October 2020, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 06/10/2020 - 10:27
Hi Terry
Thank you!

Any more information or help on how to proceed for the safety of all residents in these blocks?

Stay safe.

Rudolph

terry sullivan

12:43 PM, 7th October 2020, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by John Frith at 06/10/2020 - 14:34
in fact councils are disobeying a court order--is that not a criminal act?

Able Services

15:00 PM, 7th October 2020, About 2 years ago

I think, if Tenants go to the Council and ask for a property because they have been given paperwork to leave the property they currently live in. It is the Councils duty to inform them they do not have a housing stock and they would be put into B&B or a hostel till they find something for them. My Tenant has told the Council he can no longer afford to rent privately. If they look at their payslips they would see that in fact they can. They think, if they say they have babies (13 & 7 years old) they would be priority. Something needs to change.

Mark Prichard

15:00 PM, 10th October 2020, About 2 years ago

While there is undoubtedly an issue whereby council officers do not always have due regard to the statutory guidance (as demonstrated by this critical Ombudsman report), the headline to this article ("must...") and the characterisation of the report as "groundbreaking" is misleading.

As such, you're not doing landlords any favours, certainly if your aim is to accurately inform landlords of what the law actually requires of councils in this context.

John Frith

16:48 PM, 10th October 2020, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 07/10/2020 - 12:43
Terry, not sure what you mean by "court order"? The original article refers to a judgement by an ombudsman - which I don't think is the same as a court order.

In any case, I suspect that councils will have some sort of "exemption" from criminality. I mean, they're the good guys, aren't they?

terry sullivan

17:13 PM, 10th October 2020, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by John Frith at 10/10/2020 - 16:48
read it again--the court has ordered tenant to leave--thats a court order????

John Mac

11:28 AM, 2nd August 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Prichard at 10/10/2020 - 15:00
I agree Mark, this "guidance" has been around for years, but AFAIK it is simply that, "guidance". Where is the Law that says Councils are Legally bound to rehouse, when T has been given notice, and not wait until Bailiffs arrive?

Hope to be proved wrong !

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