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Monday, March 14, 2016

Councils told to stop advising tenants to 'stay put'

The Housing minister, Brandon Lewis, has written to all chief executives of local councils to ask them to stop advising tenants to 'stay put' when faced with eviction by their landlord. 

Many councils' have routinely advised tenants to wait until the bailiffs turn up at the door before leaving their rental property so that they can be accepted as officially 'homeless'.

Mr Lewis has tried to clarify on a letter to council chiefs, stating

“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.”

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.

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 Section 21 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.

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.”

Well... let's see if any councils change their tune.

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