15:24 PM, 19th April 2017, About 4 years ago 7
I have finally had a response to my FOI request. I asked the city council to breakdown the seriousness of each of the 4500 “complaints” they have received about PRS over a 4+ year period. This is their main justification for imposing the £600 fee on every PRS property in the city (not HA or AMLO property of course!) – £25 million from private landlords to deal with the “problem”
They say that they do not have this basic data and that it would not be cost effective to extract it from the 4500+ complaints to meet my request. Just as you would expect!
Councils across the country continue to use the “not cost effective” argument to avoid providing information and data they should have to hand with 42 officers based in the housing compliance section.
If they have not interrogated the 4500+ complaints they purport to have received to determine what action was necessary (enforcement / dismissal etc) then they have no justification to create a licensing scheme to address a perceived and not actual problem.
All they are using is another “feeling” that there is more anti social behaviour in areas of PRS property. Even if that were the case anti social behaviour is a matter for police and not housing departments. It is certainly not a landlords responsibility to control the behaviour of their tenants outside the property boundary!
Bear in mind as well that the city council’s own social housing complaint level is significantly above the pro rata 4500 figures being used by them to penalise private landlords.
The key bit of the response is below:
In relation to your specific queries, the Authority’s response is as follows:-
You are currently going through a consultation on a proposed licencing scheme for private rented houses in the city. In order to respond fully to this consultation I need the following information.
You have quoted 4500 recorded complaints about private landlords over 4 years. Please provide a breakdown of these complaints as follows.
1. How many complaints required immediate enforcement notice / action?
2. How many complaints lead to prosecution of landlords?
3. How many complaints lead to prosecution of tenants? (anti-social behaviour etc)
4. How many landlords were complained against? I am assuming there are landlords / organisations with multiple ownerships in the city
5. How many complaints were dismissed? (vexatious etc)
6. How many environmental health / enforcement officers / administrators does NCC currently employ?
7. Does the 4500 complaints include complaints about Nottingham City Homes properties? If so how many over the 4 years.
8. How many complaints were received for other publicly owned rented property in the city? Ie Housing Association, Almshouses, Registered providers etc.
In accordance with section 1 (1) of the Act, the Authority has a duty to confirm whether it holds the information of the description specified in the request, and if that is the case, to have the information communicated to the requester.
Regarding questions 1, 4 and 5 of your request, whilst the Authority can confirm the information you have requested is held, it is not held in a reportable format. Officers would have to interrogate the free text action diary for each of the 4508 complaints, in order to identify:
• The number of complaints at required enforcement action.
• The number of different landlords who were complained against.
• The number of complaints that were dismissed.
It has been estimated this interrogation would exceed the appropriate limit.
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