Council takes responsibility? Guess again!

by Readers Question

16:28 PM, 1st March 2021
About a month ago

Council takes responsibility? Guess again!

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Council takes responsibility? Guess again!

In January 2021, Reigate and Banstead Council declared a property to be a House in Multiple Occupation and served a Section 255 Notice under The Housing Act 2004, against one property. The Council correctly advised the Landlord that any appeal against the HMO Declaration must be made through an application to the First-tier Tribunal and not directly to the Council.

Reigate and Banstead declared that the owner was running an HMO at this particular property and because the landlord was providing emergency accommodation, it meant that the property was a House of Multiple Occupation. As such, due to legislative changes in October 2018, the property was required to obtain a Mandatory HMO Licence. The Council also chose to rely on the provisions of the Homeless Code of Guidance.

The Landlord sought professional advice and representation.

It was found that the Council had made no thorough or proper investigation and had no evidence to warrant the issue of the HMO Declaration. Had the Council had taken the time to fully investigate the situation, they would have found that the property was the residential home of the landlord, who was the sole occupant.

The Landlord followed the process that was set out by the Local Authority under the HMO Declaration, and an Application was made to the First-tier Tribunal, to challenge the Council’s decision.

This stunned the Council, so much so that they turned their incompetent actions on the Landlord.

Officer Quote 1
“It is unfortunate that (The Landlord) was not clear during my conversation with him…”

Officer Quote 2
“If he had spoken to me on receipt of the HMO declaration Notice, as would be normally expected, we could have revisited which property/properties he uses.”

Officer Quote 3
“I served a declaration on the property which I understood from him to be the one which he uses for temporary accommodation.”

Officer Quote 4
“…which is not the original information given by him when I served the Notice.”

Officer Quote 5 (My favourite!)
“(The Landlord) should have contacted me if I had the wrong address.”

So, Reigate and Banstead, you were asking the Landlord to do the following:

1. Incriminate himself.

2. Tell the Council that the HMO Declaration they (investigated?!) and issued was incorrect so that the Officers could reissue the correct Notice. (though this is another subject and matter for another day!)

3. Tell the Council how to do their job!

Like most Councils, Reigate and Banstead Council have taken no responsibility for their actions. They have issued no apology to the Landlord. Shockingly, the response from Council’s Officer was “I will be investigating further and will inspect.”

The Council are now being watched; this behaviour is not acceptable and there is no basis for the intimidating approach adopted by the Authority.

The matter continues to cause the Landlord a great deal of stress, anxiety, and frustration.

The Council did revoke the HMO Declaration and the Landlord agreed to this, based on the Revocation and that the Council is not going to continue harassing the Landlord. Unfortunately, this appears to be exactly what they intend to do.

Shaun

Comments

TheSwan

10:21 AM, 2nd March 2021
About a month ago

That is absolutely shameful. Why are all these councils able to continue causing all of this stress and angst. They drop a bomb, then they go home and don't give it a second thought whilst they are leaving landlords with many sleepless nights.

Who exactly are the "first tier tribunal" are they another government body? Are they like the trading standards of the property world and more importantly, are their services free to landlords who are defending themselves against councils? I may need to access their services myself soon.

Chris @ Possession Friend

20:19 PM, 2nd March 2021
About a month ago

Sounds like a Complaint to the Council and when they just defend themselves, refer it to the Local Govt Ombudsman.

Freda Blogs

11:40 AM, 3rd March 2021
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris @ Possession Friend at 02/03/2021 - 20:19
I agree. Letters to Chief Exec and local member to start with. Maybe FOI enquiry to see if there are other examples?

Officers should be doing their job properly and not wasting time or resources inappropriately, and the landlord should seek recovery of his abortive costs as a minimum.


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