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Nice one Jonathan, we should have you fighting on landlords behalf against councils, shelter and the government
Believe me, I have very extensive experience with council incompetence and mistakes of law. That forms a large part of my practice and I could tell stories that would make your hair curl. Your list is frankly not unexpected, and relatively mild in its effects. You haven't had an open sewer running through your living room for three years, for instance.
But incompetence is not policy. The original post was based on this alleged advice being Shelter and/or the council's policy approach, rather than the cock ups of an individual. That was my point - this advice was not given by Shelter or the local council.
On your specifics -
4 - Cat 2 hazards can be mandatory in the sense that an LA *can* lawfully serve an improvement notice on them. The non-mandatory bit is that on a cat 2 hazard, the council doesn't *have* to serve some kind of notice, but can choose to. Compliance with the notice is mandatory (subject to appeal).
6 - no, but this is a surprising omission from the regulations and may change soon.
9 - this is not wrong advice or incompetent. It is not good practice and against the statutory guidance, but the council can certainly lawfully tell tenants to stay put and that their homeless application will not be dealt with as homelessness, rather than 'threatened with homelessness', until there is a possession order. I joined with the RLA and NLA in arguing for legislative change to this in the Homelessness Reduction Act, but the government decided otherwise.
12 - Actually, they don't, though you could sue for resulting cost from a failure in service if they are obliged to provide it under the lease.
13 - Councils do not have any obligation to house a tenant. They might have a duty to secure accommodation for homeless in certain circumstances. That is not quite the same thing.
19 - Depends when the benefit overpayment condition was discovered.
Anthony Gold Solicitors
``But incompetence is not policy``.
Incompetence is not policy you say - but a policy itself can be described as incompetent.
Staff and the policy they implement are both intrinsically linked
Some competent council operatives try their best to deliver an incompetent policy drafted by incompetent people
Often incompetent operatives try to deliver an incompetent policy . Double disaster
Policy often is ambiguous in its nature. Often its written badly
Sometimes the training of staff is inadequate, sometimes staff interpretation of the policy is left wanting
So its a mixed bag
There are forms I am asked to fill in by them which are not properly constructed . They contain flaws .
I`ve fought and managed to get their incompetent policies changed in the past
On your specifics
4- The letter I received and conversation i had with them left me with the clear instruction that stuff was required for me to do or else . I could easily have rolled over and assumed that i had to comply. It wasn`t an improvement notice but the letter was formatted in such a way that the recipient would think they legally had to do stuff . They serve it with a notice exercising power of entry and slap Housing Act all over it with legal speak thrown in . Its deliberately designed to frighten you into submission . That is their standard policy from the outset. But I stood my ground . They eventually admitted they would have served me an improvement notice on just 2 of the issues but crucially not on all 10 of them. Not making that clear in their initial letter in my view is underhand and incompetent and would have cost me 1000`s of pounds if I hadnt been so vigilant and combative .
If they had picked up a phone and asked me to meet them there to discuss I would of . But they `trespassed` into my property behind my back and then sent me their list . Common courtesy would be to engage with me first. I complained about that policy and they said their policy would now be changed. Another incompetent policy changed to be competent as it was exclusive not inclusive . But of course when the next one came along they did exactly the same because they hadn`t retrained their staff . So their training policy is also incompetent
6 - . What surprises me far more is that the current regulations do not include my own residential . I can go to prison as a landlord for not protecting an adult tenant from killer carbon monoxide or smoke from a fire but the law does nothing about a residential owner not providing detectors to protect their 1 yr old baby daughter from an open log fire in their living room . Its an incompetent policy. It sends a message to say in effect an adult tenants life is more important than my or any other home owner`s own daughters
9 - hmm sorry i dont buy that - if you say something to a customer which is not good practice and against statutory guidance that is incompetent and wrong advice in my view . Not sure how you see it otherwise They should give a neutral view about the pros and cons of going to the wire on an eviction . All they are doing though is trying to protect budgets and buy time as they have no where to house them . They hope that i will relent and not spend £1000 to get a possession order. They dont talk about the tenant getting CCJ`s and bad credit ratings and being on a tenant / mortgage blacklist which affects their future for a long time to come . Their advice is so heavily weighted to suit their own ends i would deem that incompetent advice even if its 50% factually correct . As we all know its sometimes the things you don`t say which effect lives more .They only tell the tenants half the story about what an eviction means in terms of how it negatively affects their future life. They paint a picture that suits their selfish agenda . A Sec 21 should be treated with respect . Its a simple form with a clear indication of what i want . The council should act in good faith on that document I believe if they have good reason to believe its valid
12 - I`m sorry but their policy said they did have to supply alternative heating . Previously they didn`t and I challenged that and they changed their policy as a result . Ironically on another subsequent occasion a different operative had no clue that their policy had changed. Lack of training . I dont sue as a rule too much hassle . I normally get compensation in the end from them though when it gets to senior level or 3rd stage complaint
13 - hmm playing with words rather me thinks - a nervous vulnerable tenant who goes to the council seeking help when they have been served a sec 21 and faces being out on the streets really is not that interested in the technical legal difference between ` housing` them and `securing accommodation` for them. They just want a roof over their heads for them and their kids as they are scared . And the council has statutory obligations there. If a council operative makes them upset and feel abandoned because of the slight technicality in their language then that is not only cruel but also incompetent in my view.
19 - yes agreed - but when they get it wrong its incompetent
Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com
Interesting to read this thread.
Giles, while Shelter and the council don't offer that advice, it is indeed very possible that there are people that work for them, who do give that advice (especially in the council where there is no accountability).
James, Chris, are you able to obtain the names of the people offering the poor advice and report them to the organisation? Whether anything is done is another matter but at least it would raise awareness of the poor practice within the organisation.
On the subject of ' Nobody would give that advice ' and my version of 'evidence ' I produce, Exhibit A.
Daily Mail, 19th February, 2019. article," One little prang that led to 100 nuisance calls : ...
Driver of very minor accident, uninjured continues .. " Despite this, I was called by an Ambulance-chasing solicitor who suggested they could get me £1,500 compensation for seat belt discomfort. "
Kinda makes my point about the scruples or lack thereof, of Legal Aid solicitors faced with minor Tenant complaints ! using or trying ( they're gonna get paid by Tax-payers, win or loose) to use FFHH.
Oh Chris, this is getting embarrassing for you.
Those calls were from claims farmers - 'Claims management companies' - not solicitors. They were also in breach of MoJ regulation of personal injury claims farmers. They had nothing to do with solicitors. Solicitors can't cold call.
These claims farmers also can't actually bring claims, or defend or counterclaim in possession proceedings. They are just like those 'Evictions R Us' set-ups that claim to act for landlords in possession proceedings, and we know that incompetent 'landlord advice' set-ups lose landlord's cases by conducting litigation unlawfully, when they have no right to.
And legal aid hasn't been available for personal injury or RTA claims since the 1990s. So you are only 20 years behind the times.