Is the Council being reasonable with enforcement notice?

by Readers Question

16:11 PM, 23rd February 2021
About A week ago

Is the Council being reasonable with enforcement notice?

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Is the Council being reasonable with enforcement notice?

I need urgent advice on the following; I have had tenants in the flat below since August 2018 where I have been served the following enforcement letter from an enforcement officer. The tenants have continuously been complaining about things in the flat all of which have been dealt with.

When the property was first rented to the tenants, there were no pests, and it is stated in the tenancy agreement that it is the responsibility of the tenant to eradicate pests after the first month of tenancy.

After the tenants moved in, after the first month, there have been mice where I have had contractors block all holes to the flat and have also had contractors to eradicate mice however, the tenants keep the flat filthy. Surely, they should be responsible for this and bed bugs which have only just come to my notice in the last month or so. Once again, the tenancy agreement states that the tenants are responsible after the first month of the tenancy.

More recently, the Tenants have complained about mould for the first time which, I have arranged to have cleaned, however, it is black mould that I am sure is caused by condensation. I had given the tenant a dehumidifier, a washer dryer and the double-glazed windows have air vents to prevent mould growth.

They have also had a blocked sink which I arranged to have unblocked although, this again has been for the first time and the tenancy agreement says that after the first month of the tenancy it is the responsibility to clear the blocked pipes. As far as I am aware there are no blocked pipes at the moment.

The following clauses are in the tenancy agreement:
The Tenant agrees with the Landlord as follows:
• To be responsible for the eradication of all pests such as rats, mice, cockroaches, bugs, etc after the first periodic month of the initial Tenancy
• To be responsible to clear any blocked drains, pipes, toilets, sinks, wash basins, baths, showers and any other sewage blockages after the first periodic month of the initial tenancy.

The letter below is what I received from the council:

Dear Mr xxxxx,
It has been brought to our attention that there are defects at the above dwelling which could potentially give rise to health and safety hazards including:
1. Domestic Hygiene, Pests and Refuse – bed bugs
2. Personal Hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage – blocked drainage
3. Damp and mould growth
Documents to provide within the next 21 days:
1. A pest control report carried out by a qualified pest controller and if necessary, following up with a recommended treatment programs to eradicate the pest infestation.
2. A plumber’s report to trace and remedy the source of continuous blockages.
3. A detailed damp survey from a contractor who must be a member of the British Chemical Damp Proofing Association or another suitably recognised organization or suitably qualified person.

For enforcement purposes, the hazard Rating System is concerned with those matters which can be considered the responsibility of the owner or landlord.

As the above dwelling is rented and you are the person in control of the premises, you are responsible for managing or arranging its management and maintenance.
xxxxxx
Housing Enforcement Officer

Many thanks

Clint

Comments

Neil Patterson

16:15 PM, 23rd February 2021
About A week ago

Hi Clint,

I would definitely make contact with Landlord Licencing and Defence in this scenario.

Please see their latest article >> https://www.property118.com/salford-city-council-orders-landlord-to-re-instate-gas-safety-hazard/

David

18:20 PM, 23rd February 2021
About A week ago

Sounds like the tenants are clued up about revenge eviction legislation.

Anthony Hawes

10:35 AM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

Has the enforcement officer visited the property or are they just taking the tenants word? I had a very similar experience with a council last year but after explaining what I had already done to address issues and assist the tenant they were perfectly reasonable.

My first response would be to go back to the EO with a very detailed history along the lines of what you have given above and to ask on what grounds they feel you are responsible for these issues, particularly cleanliness and personal hygiene. In the interests of just being helpful I would also provide the tenant with details of where they can obtain the services of pest controllers and drain clearing companies and let the council know that you have done this.

Good luck

michael@mjproperty.co.uk

10:57 AM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

It’s difficult to work with awkward tenants, although is the flat in a modern block or is it a conversion? Do you own just the flat or the rest of the building.
I think it’s reasonable to state after a month in your agreements but rodents / bed bugs / mould aren’t always straight forward and each individual circumstance should be taken
I would arrange to meet the officer there and provide all the proof that you have carried out your obligations before making further decisions

DGM

12:06 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

When I had a issue with bed bugs caused by the upstairs flat and owned by the freeholder not me. I spoke with the council and they didn't want to know, they said bed bugs are not a concern and use there registered pest control company to fumigate the property. They have come back now for the 3rd time, the pest control company say it is definitely coming from the flat above. I spoke to the landlord of the flat who is the freeholder of the building and he will do nothing about it - the stereo typical horrible greedy landlord who does no maintenance etc.
I spoke to the council again and again they do not care, so I am surprised the council are saying you need to provide a pest control report.
This is an extract of an email from my local council when discussing about bed bugs
"I am unable to assist you or your tenants in regards to bedbugs, suspected to originate from a neighbouring property, as bed bugs are not classed as a public health risk due to there being no significant risk of disease from them. There is therefore no legislation we hold that can require an occupier/property owner carry out pest control measures for bed bugs. "
It seems different councils have different rules.
I paid for the treatment 3 times and seems ok at the moment. The tenants should pay, but they are good long term tenants so I always look after my tenants, it is two way thing.

Trapped Landlord

13:29 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

I have an near identical case on my hands at the moment , with the exception the my tenants are stealing the universal credit payments. I have found that very often, the environmental health officers usually just type out these vague, heavy handed letters without little thought or investigation and so long as you show some form of acknowledgement and care, they should back off with little more involvement. I think most of the time they bank on these threatening letters into bullying the landlord into doing enough to get the tenants off their back. As for the tenant, id just get the eviction case going. My feeling is that gradually, with such a good choice of new tenants, these problem tenants will all end up sofa surfing after the local authorities turn their back on them aswell.

terry sullivan

14:52 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

get rid asap

Clint

20:37 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 23/02/2021 - 16:15
Thanks Neil and all others for their advice. I think, I will take your advice as a starter Neil and see what "Landlord Licensing & Defence" have to say.

I had contacted the tenants today and they agree that the mould and the blocked pipes are no longer a problem and agree that these have been dealt with.

It appeared, that they did not even know about the letter of enforcement.

Clint

20:45 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 23/02/2021 - 18:20
The tenants are not worried about a revenge eviction. They in fact want to be evicted as they say, the council will provide them with a council property. They had in fact in the past asked me to evict them although, they have CCJs through me for not paying their rent initially.

I had served them a section 8 and section 21 notice before the pandemic however, these have now expired and I have not had the time or inclination to go through all the new legislation in respect of evictions as I am getting the rent paid directly to me from UC as they are benefit tenants and generally, although a nuisance, I have been coping with their demands.

Clint

20:51 PM, 24th February 2021
About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by DGM at 24/02/2021 - 12:06
Thanks for the info about the bed bugs. I am rather surprised though that the council state that it is not a health and safety issue.
The council I am dealing with is Croydon Council.

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