16:54 PM, 12th February 2024, About 2 weeks ago 5
A housing legal expert says that councils are guilty of severe maladministration, excessive enforcement and unfair licensing conditions against private sector landlords while neglecting their own housing stock and ignoring tenants’ complaints.
That’s the view of Des Taylor, a director of Landlord Licensing and Defence, a company that helps landlords comply with regulations and defend themselves against council actions.
He says that the antics of councils in the private rented sector will lead to the next Post Office scandal – the highly publicised campaign to highlight the wrongful convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters over alleged accounting errors.
Mr Taylor said: “Councils are the next Post Office scandal – the makings are all there.
“Tenants are human beings who deserve decent living conditions, but they are let down by councils who make nonsense PR statements about learnings and not meeting their own high standards when they are found guilty by the Housing Ombudsman for severe maladministration.”
Mr Taylor points to the recent case of Waltham Forest Council, which was ordered to pay £18,800 in compensation for failing to carry out repairs and deal with anti-social behaviour in three different properties, despite repeated requests from the tenants.
One of the properties had severe mould and damp issues, but the council did not fix them for 11 months.
He said: “It is disgraceful that they would ignore a tenant’s plea for help and not do the repair.
“In the private rented sector, a landlord would be hounded by enforcement operatives from the council, have Abatement Notices, Improvement Notices imposed upon them, and face serious trouble and legal action if they did not act promptly or dared to challenge the council’s demands, even if they were incorrect.”
Mr Taylor also accused councils of subcontracting tasks to firms that misadvise landlords and tenants, and of imposing licence conditions that are entrapment and unfair.
He said that one council’s advisor asked a landlord if he would consider letting a tenant sublet, which would create a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), even though the area was subject to planning and licensing restrictions, which would entrap the landlord if he had unwittingly agreed.
He added that Waltham Forest is a heavily regulated borough with Selective Licensing which imposes criminal liability on landlords for anti-social behaviour, which the council and the police had proven themselves incapable of controlling.
Mr Taylor explains: “The council are not held to any standard and a public inquiry into this must happen for this and all local housing associations.”
He said that there were 10,000s of landlords who had been punished far more for far less serious matters, and that this would continue until the public inquiry took place.
Mr Taylor said: “These articles show that the CEOs of these authorities are asleep at the wheel and incompetent, and at the same time the council staff in another department can punish private sector landlords who do the best they can, and spout lies and misinformation about landlords in the private rented sector, this is scandalous.
“How councils deal with private sector landlords is the next Post Office scandal, and they will be exposed and held accountable for their actions.”
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