Is this council letter to tenant legal?

Is this council letter to tenant legal?

9:09 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago 43

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This is what the local borough sent to my tenant after I had sent her a Section 21 notice:

“I have requested that you be assigned an officer who will go through the next stage with you.

“Please be aware that due to a backlog of cases, this may take a little while but you will be allocated an officer.

“In the meantime, you are advised that you have a legal right to occupy your property. Your landlord will have to go through the proper legal process if he wants you to vacate the property.

“He must issue you with Section 21 notice as he has done, a Possession Order and a Bailiffs Warrant. This process can take some time.

“Therefore, you are advised NOT to vacate your property until your landlord has issued you with all 3 notices, the last one being the bailiffs warrant. If you do vacate the property without finding alternative suitable and reasonable long-term accommodation for yourself and your family you will be making yourself homeless intentionally.”

Kind regards
Triage Team

Is this legal?

Debbie

Editors Note: Check out Property118’s investigation report on councils telling tenants to stay put here


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Laurence Stevens

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9:29 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

It may be Legal but it’s immoral!
Another example of ‘broken Britain’

Cider Drinker

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9:29 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and the Homelessness Code of Practice should have ended this practice.
Of course, Local Authorities are overwhelmed with demands for accommodation. Your tenants should try to find somewhere else but it will not be an easy task.
You just need to plod on with the path to bailiffs and employ an eviction specialist to assist you. Eviction specialists will be in high demand right now and will be in even higher demand after the forthcoming elections.
You also need to pray that the incoming government doesn’t scupper your plans entirely.
Do any of the Grounds under Section 8 apply?

Ray Guselli

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9:31 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Simply ignoring the message from the then Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, in 2016, advising councils not to adopt this approach.

Reluctant Landlord

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9:32 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

They are telling her the process and also explaining to her that they wont house her until she is evicted by bailiffs.

They do this so they don't have to house her until the last minute.

What I suggest you do is write back to them telling them they are in breach of their duty under the Housing Act by telling the tenant to remain in situ - as they have an obligation to take action when there is a THREAT of eviction and not just the at the end of the legal process.

Remind them that they are also by issuing this 'advice' they are ensuring the tenant is personally liable for all possession costs as a direct result of their duty failure. Tell them that a copy of their letter is being sent to your MP to make it clear of the breach of the Council's homeless duty, and also a letter going to the tenant to explain the direct position the council has put her in and their failure to explain that she will be personally liable for all costs until possessionis gained. Give her the figures now for what the anticipated cost will be, plus and indication of the process after to seek costs if she is unable to pay and has a CCJ awarded. You could then offer her a surrender of the tenancy if she wishes to avoid all this (if you want her out asap)
Remind the tenant to contact the MP too saying you have already raised this with the MP yourself as the council is in breach of their duty.

Fight fire with fire!

You are lucky in a way - most people don't get this in writing from their council so there is no evidence of what they are doing.

Heres some info I found online...

What should a local authority do in these circumstances?
Local authorities should be treating a tenant as threatened with homelessness if they have been served a valid Section 21 notice that is expiring within eight weeks.

During this period, the local authority should assess the applicant, and work with them to prepare a personalised housing plan.

This will normally include:

making sure the tenant pays as much rent as they can
telling them whether to apply for private or social housing, and
potentially offering to pay off debts or check whether there are any defences to the possession claim.
They should also speak to the landlord to see if they can prevent the end of the tenancy. If they can’t prevent the end of the tenancy, then they should be working to help secure alternative accommodation for the tenant in the run up to the possession claim ending.

This doesn’t mean the council must always house the tenant themselves, of course. But it does mean that the local authority should be taking reasonable steps to find suitable accommodation if there’s no chance of sustaining the tenancy.

Once the notice period expires, the local authority should assess whether the tenant is homeless, or whether they can remain on in the property while suitable accommodation is found.

A person is deemed to be homeless if they have no accommodation it would be reasonable for them to stay in. The homelessness code of practice takes the view that it is unlikely to be reasonable for a tenant to stay beyond the expiry of a valid Section 21 notice where there is no defence.

The code also states that local authorities should not consider it reasonable for an applicant to remain in occupation up until the point at which a court issues a warrant or writ to enforce an order for possession.

Given this, local authorities should not have a blanket policy of telling tenants to stay put and wait for the bailiffs to arrive.

While this may be appropriate in some cases, for example where the notice is invalid, most of the time if a tenant is entitled to be rehoused they should be as soon as possible.

What to do if this happens to you
If your notice is valid and there is no reasonable prospect of allowing the tenant to stay on, then you should inform the housing officer of this when they make contact with you.

If you have a particular reason as to why you are ending the tenancy this should also be explained to the local authority, as they may be able to help fix it.

You should also explain any financial costs that are likely to be incurred by you and the tenant as they will need to be considered.

For example, if the tenant is continuing to accrue rent arrears, or you are entitled to claim court costs from your tenant then this needs to be taken into account by the local authority.

If you and your tenant continue to have a good relationship, and they qualify for emergency housing, then you can provide them with information that would help them make the case they should be housed when the notice expires.

In particular, if the property is no longer affordable then this should be made clear to the local authority. The tenant may also wish to raise 6.28-6.38 of the homelessness code of practice with their housing officer if they feel it is not being considered properly.

Finally, if you feel the local authority has not properly considered the case or failed to comply with their duties then you may wish to consider making a complaint.

Complaints should be made to the local authority initially but, if their response is unsatisfactory, then you can raise the complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO). This must be done within 12 months of the issue arising. Help on making a complaint can be found on the LGO website.

Monni

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9:33 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

If not ilegal It is definately bad practice. The officer should explain to the tenant that they will incur court costs if court order and Bailiff are needed.

Instead they should encourage tenant to find alternative housing.

Unfortunately Local Authorities take this approach and it is not helpful to anyone as it prevents the tenant from moving out.

Cyril Moseley

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9:37 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Section 21 is a legal means of terminating a tenancy. I’m not sure that what the council is doing is illegal, but it is an immoral way of evading their responsibility to house those made homeless through no fault of their own. The council would do much better to work with Landlords and try to build some trust. Unfortunately, councils think all landlords are rogues and treat them all the same.Generally, most landlords think that councils are incompetent and impose on landlords to evade their responsibilities.

Peter Fisher

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9:41 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Monni at 27/06/2024 - 09:33
It may be legal but as someone else has stated it is immoral.

Had some go further verbally with tenants. Saying just ignore everything and that is can 6 months or more to get you out and you don't have to pay any rent n the meantime.

It saves them having to work in the mean time to re house.

They simply don't care, have no real commercial perception of how matters of business work and do not realise WE pay their wages.

The stories I could tell about them ......well you couldn't make it up.

Pete England - PaTMa Property Management

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9:42 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

From ChatGPT.

In England, councils can advise tenants to stay put even after a Section 21 notice has been issued. Here are some details to consider:

### Understanding Section 21 Notices

A Section 21 notice, often referred to as a "no-fault eviction," allows landlords to regain possession of their property at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) without needing to provide a reason. However, certain legal protocols and timeframes must be followed for it to be valid.

### Council Advice

1. **Legal Validity of the Notice:**
- The council will first check if the Section 21 notice is valid. Common reasons for invalidity include incorrect form, not giving the required notice period, or not following the proper procedure (e.g., not protecting the tenant's deposit in a government-approved scheme).

2. **Tenant Rights and Options:**
- The council may advise tenants of their rights, such as the right to remain in the property until a court order is obtained. This is because a Section 21 notice does not immediately end the tenancy; it simply means the landlord can apply to the court for possession after the notice period.

3. **Homelessness Prevention:**
- Councils have a duty to prevent homelessness. By advising tenants to stay put, they can ensure that the tenants do not leave prematurely and become homeless before the council can assess their situation and provide support or alternative housing solutions.

4. **Time to Find Alternative Accommodation:**
- Staying put can provide tenants more time to find alternative accommodation. Immediate departure could lead to inadequate time to secure new housing, especially in tight rental markets.

### Legal Considerations

- **Eviction Process:**
- After the Section 21 notice period expires, the landlord must apply to the court for a possession order. If granted, the court will set a date for the tenant to leave. If the tenant still does not leave, the landlord must apply for a warrant of possession, which allows bailiffs to evict the tenant.

- **Advice on Staying Put:**
- Councils often advise tenants to stay put until the landlord has obtained a court order because until then, the eviction is not legally enforceable. This ensures that tenants are not leaving their homes unnecessarily and potentially facing homelessness.

### Practical Example

Suppose you receive a Section 21 notice. You go to your local council for advice. The council might:

- Review the notice to check its validity.
- Explain that you do not have to leave until a court order is obtained.
- Offer support services or help you find new accommodation.
- Advise you on your legal rights and possible next steps.

### Conclusion

Councils in England can and often do advise tenants to stay put after receiving a Section 21 notice to ensure their rights are protected and to prevent homelessness. This advice helps tenants navigate the eviction process and provides them with the necessary time to secure alternative housing.

If you have any specific details or documents regarding your situation, feel free to share them for more tailored advice. Do you have any particular concerns or questions about this process?

Gabriella Van Jennians

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9:48 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Hi, you can check out Property118's investigation report into are councils acting illegally telling tenants to stay put here >> https://www.property118.com/are-councils-acting-illegally-when-telling-tenants-to-stay-put/

nekillim200

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9:53 AM, 27th June 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Reluctant Landlord at 27/06/2024 - 09:32
Very useful.
Thank you

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