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I haven't had first hand experience of Shelter giving this type of advice, but I catagorically have had it with local authority staff. which is why I'm afraid I say that you're being naive.
I know you're decent and well-meaning and that, like the rest of us, you want an efficient court system but your statement, " for tenants to be magically worth suing for the money. That is beyond the powers of legislation", shows that you've missed the point.
Most landlords accept that their losses due to unpaid rent, legal costs and repair to their property is a write-off after a bout with a bad tenant.
What I'm saying is that there should be effective legislation to give landlords the opportunity to remove non-paying, disruptive or destructive tenants at an early stage.
I know this is whinging about legislation, but it needs to be said to balance the forceful arguments from 'the other side' for removing S.21 evictions.
There is legislation to do just that. That is why a section 8 notice only has a requirement for two weeks notice in those circumstances. That it is not very rapid in practice is back to the efficiency of the courts.
And what advice from a local authority? 'Stay put till you are evicted' - certainly, yes. Councils insist on that and threaten tenants with intentional homelessness decisions if they do otherwise. That is so the council can avoid any homelessness obligation for a long as possible. And they can legally do that. I along with the RLA and NLA argued strongly that this should be changed in the Homelessness Reduction Bill (as was) but the Govt would not agree.
'Save money for a deposit on a new place if your landlord is going to evict you'? Sure - makes sense, perfectly reasonable advice, and also means the council can hope that the tenant won't be making a homeless application. This is not advising a tenant not to pay their rent.
I have never come across a council advising tenants not to pay their rent, or that they will help the tenant make a counterclaim (let alone under the H(FFHH)A), as per JohnB's post. If they advised the tenant not to pay rent, they would lose their chance to find the tenant intentionally homeless - which they really, really don't want to lose. They don't assist tenants in bringing cases.
I've known councils give poor or wrong advice. I've never seen one advise against its own interests.
Anthony Gold Solicitors
Agreed especially on point B - as nil point litigating against a "man of straw" which in practice will be almost all benefit tenants.
For those who are concerned about the issues raised in this thread, there is a new type of insurance available that covers this off:Protect against legal action by tenants
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**