The criminalisation of landlords by Durham Council

by Larry Sweeney

13:34 PM, 5th September 2016
About 2 years ago

The criminalisation of landlords by Durham Council

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The criminalisation of landlords by Durham Council

Every landlord should sit up and take note of the prosecution and conviction of Nichola Barker. Durham council prosecuted a law abiding citizen Mrs Barker for not having a reference for her tenant, when the tenant took up occupancy of the said premise. durham council

Mrs Barker had indeed demanded a reference however the tenant had not supplied the reference at the time of her moving in. The reference was actually supplied later.

The housing act 2004 is crystal clear and worded in such a way as to avoid situations like this. Landlords have complied with their obligations when they DEMAND a reference. Demand being the key word. Should the tenant fail to, or not wish to supply a reference, the landlord must then make a judgement call as to whether to accept or decline the prospective tenant.

This spurred me on to reviewing Durham”s License conditions. They are absolute rubbish and fail every legal test. Every License issued is illegal.

  • Firstly Landlords are not required to obtain references, they must according to the act, demand references. Upon demanding they have complied with the act.
  • Secondly Durham state that a housing history of 5 years is required. Durham with this condition are forcing landlords to discriminate against vulnerable people, ex offenders, immigrants and kids leaving home.
  • Thirdly Durham are in breach of the Housing act 2004 section 90 (7) by inserting clauses designed to alter the terms of a tenancy.
  • Fourthly Durham are in breach of the DPA by demanding landlords supply them with Dates of Birth of tenants.

I would urge every landlord in Durham to reject their license and demand their fees be returned forthwith.

Finally in conjunction with Property 118 which highlights such illegality, I wish Mrs Barker every success in the action she must now institute.



Comments

Roger Cooper

8:19 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Please note that in British usage the word 'licence' is a noun and its corresponding verb is 'license'.

In American usage both words are spelt 'license'.

Most British speakers find this a useful distinction.

Scott Scott

8:23 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Am I correct to assume, you are referring to the selective licensing brought into very few parts of the county and specified in hotspots of crime, social issues, slum landlords and the like?

Scott Scott

8:27 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Can you elude to specifically what she was prosecuted for? I assume it could be failing to adhere to licensing procedures.

Steven Burman

9:49 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

If Durham's licensing conditions are 'illegal' as you claim, how on earth did they secure a conviction. I can only summise that Ms Barker has some pretty poor legal advisors?

Dylan Morris

10:55 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Could somebody please confirm what section of the Housing Act 2004 requires a "reference" to be demanded. I am also interested as to what actually constitutes a "reference". I have a tenant in one of my properties where I did not demand a reference. Her son was renting the property from me initially, but moved away with his job. His mother who was staying in the property now and again asked whether she could rent the property from me as she wanted to live in it full time. I was happy and gave her a tenancy. (Her income is from disability and housing benefits). She has so far not missed any rent payments and is looking after the house very well and is a perfect tenant.
However should in the future I need to issue say a Section 21 and take the property back, would the fact that I did not "demand" a "reference" prohibit me from taking possession ?
What actually is classed as a reference ? An employer's letter ? A payslip ? Bank statement ? A credit search ? A letter from a friend perhaps ?
What is the point of simply demanding a reference if you never at the end of the day obtain one ? Do you need "proof" that you have demanded one ? Is just simply asking verbally some kind of proof or would presumably this need to be in writing ?
This all sounds bonkers to me !!

The Enforcer

11:16 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Housing Act 2004 ; Schedule 5; para 2 - The reference to demanding a reference, and it only applies to Selective Licencing areas.

A section 21 (currently) is not affected by a reference not having been demanded

Written proof of the demand is always best; be it letter, email or text message.

The prosecution was for not adhering to the licence conditions, one of which is the condition in Schedule 4.

The Durham Council news article is here
http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/7632/Landlord-prosecuted-after-failing-to-provide-references

Old Mrs Landlord

11:22 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

This requirement to demand a reference is also news to me. A couple we know personally through church have rented from us for eight years, since they married. The woman has been known to us since her early teens and the man for eleven years. Both had been happily settled in their respective rented properties (different landlords) for several years before their marriage. We did not ask for references, indeed I would have judged it insulting to do so, but it seems we may have unwittingly fallen foul of the legislation.

Peter Fredericks

11:34 AM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Durham County Council are the original rotten jobsworths. In a County that is so economically run down, it speaks volumes that all that these money grabbing jobsworths can achieve is things like specious landlord licensing schemes and seek to criminalise a landlord on a technicality that appears to be wrong in any event.

DCC are also charging landlords full Council Tax for ANY void period and have removed repairs discounts as well. They are a total disgrace as are most of the established political class that began this current war against landlords and would last all of five minutes in a proper job.

Monty Bodkin

12:41 PM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Guessing there may be a bit more to this;

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/southdurham/ferryhill/14443440.Landlord_fined_for_failing_to_provide_tenant_references/

..did not attend the hearing at Darlington Magistrates Court

Seems bonkers on the face of it though.

Speaking after the case, Sarah Robson, Durham County Council’s head of economic development and housing, said:
“This case should act as a warning to her and other landlords in this area that we will enforce the licensing policy.”

It acts as a warning to all good landlords to avoid Durham like the plague.

Dylan Morris

13:07 PM, 6th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "The Enforcer" at "06/09/2016 - 11:16":

So the demand for references only applies if a property is within a licensed area. Luckily for me my local authority have not introduced one yet so appears I am in the clear. That's a relief.

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