The cost of bad eviction advice by councils

The cost of bad eviction advice by councils

15:13 PM, 14th September 2016, About 5 years ago 29

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The average cost to a landlord of their tenant being advised to ignore an eviction notice stands at nearly £7,000, according to a recent survey of landlords.  bad advice

Private tenants are often advised by local councils and agencies to ignore eviction notices served by their landlords – and to wait until evicted by bailiffs – in order to qualify as homeless and thus eligible for rehousing.

The latest findings from the National Landlords Association (NLA) reveal that the mean total cost of a tenant being advised to remain in a property is £6763.

In addition, 47% of tenants who have been served a section 21 eviction notice by their landlord say they have been told to ignore it by their local council or an advice agency such as Shelter or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB).

The news comes as the National Landlords Association (NLA) is due to give evidence to the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee today (Wednesday 14 September) on the Homelessness Reduction Bill.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill, as introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, amends the Housing Act 1996 to expand councils’ duties to prevent homelessness by:

  • Providing that Section 21 Eviction Notices are proof an applicant is threatened with homelessness
  • Doubling the definition of threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days

The NLA has long campaigned against councils advising tenants to ignore eviction notices and in March, 2016, the then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis wrote to all local councils in England to clarify homelessness guidance.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the NLA, said: “We have consistently campaigned on this issue, but despite many warnings to councils and agencies, this damaging advice is still being given out to tenants.

“Possession cases can take a very long time to resolve, and aside from putting an unnecessary strain on everyone involved, not to mention the Courts, these findings demonstrate just how costly the advice can be.

“Bad, or incorrect, advice hinders rather than helps landlords and tenants who are often already in a desperate situation. It will inevitably damage landlords’ confidence in the local authority and tenants may be put at much greater risk of having nowhere to live.

“We hope that this Bill will achieve its aims of reducing homelessness by giving tenants the support they need while incentivising the good work that landlords already do in communities across the country.”


by David Price

12:39 PM, 15th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sharon Betton" at "15/09/2016 - 11:21":

Sharon I am not conversant with all the legal obligations of councils when a person is intentionally homeless but from a moral perspective I believe that intentionally homeless people should not be given any assistance at all, not even temporary accommodation.

Osborne and his cohorts have made me hard as nails with respect to DSS tenants. Behave or be homeless.

by Sharon Betton

12:50 PM, 15th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "15/09/2016 - 12:39":

I think I am quite conversant with the Councils obligations, having worked for a council for years. My stance was always to make sure prospective homeless people were aware of the 5 hoops Governments and councils wanted applicants to jump through - I was usually then, and always now, am on the landlords side.
I know what you mean about the morality of the situation, but not offering any temporary accommodation raises the spectre of yet more street homeless. Believe me, in the North West, temporary accommodation is not a nice hotel. It is a hostel and not pleasant.

by Sharon Betton

12:54 PM, 15th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "15/09/2016 - 12:24":

I would expect Homeless Officer to investigate, but rent arrears almost always can be put at some failure on the part of the tenant - failure to pay rent, failure to sign on, failure to complete paperwork or on-line claim. For the exceptions where there is a genuine reason, then allowances should be made - but how many of them will there be?

by Andre Gysler

13:18 PM, 15th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "15/09/2016 - 08:35":

Or maybe from the tenancy end date on a properly served Section 21 unless the tenant applies to the Court. This should take huge amounts of pressure off the Courts and LLs as well as significantly reduced and unjustifiable losses.

Perhaps it could even pave the way for LLs to take the Councils to court to recoup losses encountered as a result of failing to resolve the tenants' housing needs (where it can be proved) within the timescale prescribed under the Housing Act?

by Andre Gysler

13:37 PM, 15th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Scott Davison" at "14/09/2016 - 16:00":

A while ago, I started a thread on LHA and its misappropriation by some in receipt of it.

by Tony White

13:57 PM, 16th September 2016, About 5 years ago

My understanding is that if a Tenant is evicted for non payment of rent he/she is deemed to have deliberately made themselves homeless , and the council has no obligation to house them unless they have children. So the main issue for the councils is presumably having access to hostel accommodation. The problem could be addressed if rents were paid directly to the landlord, and if that was done it might be accompanied by the requirement to allow regular council inspections to ensure that the landlords responsibility to provide adequate accommodation are met. It would also , perhaps, put a stop to the problem that occurred in the past when this direct payment was the norm of crooked landlords continuing to receive payments after tenants had left. The problem of Councils telling tenants to stay put isn't a new one. I had it on a property I owned in Penzance twenty years ago. The press and MP's get themselves in a frenzy about landlords and housing benefits , ignoring the inconvenient truth that if it wasn't for these private landlords the homeless would be numbered in the millions, and that there are a good number of crooked tenants out there as well.

by Andre Gysler

15:13 PM, 16th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony White" at "16/09/2016 - 13:57":

This may be a local issue but I have to disagree with you on some of the points you made. We have had personal experiences (yes multiple) where Basingstoke & Deane BC's Housing Services have rehoused tenants who have been helped to secretly abscond owing us thousands of pounds even after managing to intercept LHA due to the tenants being over 2 months in arrears. These tenants are usually placed with unsuspecting private LLs without declaring their poor payment history with the previous LL. No doubt, history then repeats itself all over again.

Just because a LL is paid directly doesn't mean LHA is always paid. Some instances we have personally experienced where arrears have accrued despite being in direct receipt of a tenant's LHA are a) claim forms not completed on time, b) requested evidence to support a claim not being provided c) tenants not declaring income, d) over-paid LHA resulting in claw back, e) a tenant only being entitled to partial LHA funding and not making up the difference, f) fraudulent claims e.g. not living alone or letting a room undeclared. The list goes on......

There is no perfect solution but it is time that Councils need to be held accountable for aiding and abetting. Also it is time for them to stop hiding behind that old chestnut of "we can't tell you the tenant's forwarding address due to Data Protection". If this requires a change in the law to protect 'theft' (I use the term loosely as apparently it is not 'theft' it is 'civil'), then so be it.

by Mandy Thomson

15:41 PM, 16th September 2016, About 5 years ago

While I welcome Bob Blackman's bill, and I don't like housing departments telling people they can't help them until they're evicted, in many cases councils are taking this position because they simply have nowhere to put these people.

If the bill is made law, where is the accommodation (by which I also mean grotty bed and breakfast "hotels", and not just proper housing) supposed to come from? I appreciate there's more housing capacity away from the SE, but this isn't infinite and even if vulnerable and disadvantaged people can be housed in other areas, it then puts a burden on the host communities which not only have to house these incomers, but provide healthcare and schooling etc and in some cases deal with challenging behaviour from those who are unable to contribute much in return (through poverty, lack of education or vulnerability).

Councils are going to need private landlords even more, because realistically, where else is the housing coming from? However, as Rosalind has commented, I doubt many councils will be waking up to this fact any time soon.

by David Price

16:36 PM, 16th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "16/09/2016 - 15:41":

(by which I also mean grotty bed and breakfast “hotels”, and not just proper housing)
I have seen some of these bed and breakfast “hotels”, and they are a disgrace. Why are hoteliers allowed to provide sub-standard accommodation while landlords are expected to meet a high defined standard for a far lower reward?

by Mandy Thomson

17:10 PM, 16th September 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "16/09/2016 - 16:36":

My thoughts exactly. It seems standards fly out the window when desperation takes over. I actually know some people who own one of these "hotels" (I can't identify the hotel or them for obvious reasons).

They own the place outright, which at least initially, also took regular guests. Since they took the hotel over, it has received the worst reviews on Tripadviser I've ever read (e.g. bedroom doors that can't lock, dirt, filth, bedding apparently not changed between guests, etc).

These people are also the landlords of at least one property let under an AST, and I know of at least two legal obligations they haven't complied with, as well as a history of serious arrears with service charge payments to the freeholder of that property.

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