9:49 AM, 14th December 2020, About A year ago 1
Landlords can have useful and symbiotic relationships with some councils providing accommodation where the area and property suit.
There are vast differences between local authorities in their attitude and relationship with landlords and the ever-increasing pressure to turn to the private rented sector to relieve the strain on their Emergency Accommodation lists. This can lead to some ‘less than ethical practices’.
I’m sure many landlords have had tenants suggested or proposed by a Local Authority and of course, the responsibility for verifying – referencing such potential tenants rests with the Landlord. However, the LA will often have detailed knowledge of the person – family they’re trying to get the PRS to ‘take off their hands.’
A landlord in Somerset and West Taunton Council area had been provided with a verbal reference for an applicant tenant, upon which he granted a tenancy.
The tenant quickly went into arrears and caused numerous instances of Anti-Social behaviour. The tenant had to be evicted and the landlord’s losses were £4,428.11p!
The landlord’s initial approach to the council was obviously fruitless and understandably led him to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who carried out an investigation.
The council accepted it was at fault and agreed to pay the landlords full costs!
Somerset West and Taunton Council also state they ‘have undertaken a major review of its housing options operations… and officers are to receive comprehensive training with a focus on building and maintaining effective working relationships with partners including private sector landlords. ‘
The full background detail behind the case isn’t available on the Ombudsman’s case investigation (see Reference 19 013 805 here ) but it makes me wonder if the landlord might have had a witness (or maybe a recording) of the council officers verbal reference, otherwise, a simple denial would have left the matter indeterminable.
Questioning Local Authorities can lead to either eliciting useful information in deciding whether to accept a Tenant or else financial redress, as the case above demonstrates(and don’t be fobbed off by Data Protection, as a landlord would have a legitimate interest in receiving the information).
Equally, a refusal to answer any questions by a Landlord can also be considered in their decision of whether to accept that tenant.
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