Local authorities must stop advising tenants to stay in their rental properties until the bailiff arrives during the eviction process, insists the Housing Minister.
Last month, the National Landlords Association (NLA) spoke out against councils telling private tenants to ignore eviction notices from their landlords.
Now, the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has announced that he has written to all chief executives of local authorities, advising that households should not be put in this position and clarifying the guidance on homelessness.
His letter reads: “Authorities should not routinely be advising tenants to stay until the bailiffs arrive; there is no barrier to them assisting the tenant before this. By doing this, local authorities miss a valuable opportunity to prevent homelessness.”
The letter follows pressure from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), whose Managing Director, David Cox, has continuously raised the issue of local authorities advising tenants to stay in their property beyond the notice period, forcing the landlord to go to court to gain possession.
Lewis continues: “Landlords and tenants continue to raise concerns about local authorities advising tenants to stay when issued with a notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy under section 21 (1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988. I receive a large amount of correspondence on this.”
He explains: “The statutory Homelessness Code of Guidance, which local authorities are required by law to have regard to, is clear on this matter.
“It contains guidance on how authorities should treat homelessness applications in circumstances where a tenant has received a valid s21 notice.
“It says that housing authorities should not, in every case, insist upon a court order for possession and that no local authority should adopt a blanket policy in this respect.”
He adds: “The guidance states that if the landlord intends to seek possession and there would be no defence to an application for a possession order, then it is unlikely that it would be reasonable for the applicant to continue to occupy the accommodation.
“Unless a local authority has very good reason to depart from the statutory guidance, then they should not be placing households in this position.”1
Lewis insists that he will look at the way local authorities deal with section 21 notices.
Cox hopes that the letter would end the problem for the industry, but adds that ARLA will continue pressing the Housing Minister.
If you are going through the eviction process with your tenants, remember that Rent Guarantee & Legal Expenses Insurance will protect your rental income if your tenant defaults and covers your legal costs for gaining possession.
If your tenants have damaged the property on purpose, you can look after your investment with Landlord Property Insurance.