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Local Authority advice to HB tenant


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I've heard that when an HB tenant is served Section 21 notice their local authority housing department advises tenant to overstay termination date up until forced out by court eviction from landlord. Obviously this incurs landlord with otherwise possibly avoidable legal costs and considerable lost rent for extra months occupation, typically three or more depending on speed of court procedure. This attitude does little to encourage private landlords to help LAs provide housing.

Has anyone had similar experience from LAs in this way?

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Hi Chestnut,

It does seem to be the case that local authorities or rather individual officers within those organisations actively encourage tenants in arrears or tenants that landlords want removed to stay put until a court order or the bailiff arrives. This adds to the misery of the private landlord.

I have never seen this written or spoken about as 'policy' - has anyone else?

This behaviour seems to encourage some tenants to deliberately not pay rent and assume they will be re-homed by the council. I'm not sure all authorities take that as being so and I personally know of 2 LA's who have placed tenants in homeless shelters rather than give them a council house or flat.

I do think the rules should be re-written for all to see and comply with rather than this maverick way of carrying on. Do you think D. Cameron will give us a job?!


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Hi Chestnut (and Mortitia),

If you have served a valid Section 21 then the only court action needed is Accelerated Possession ... and that only takes 28 days, not a number of months, and costs about £150.

Also ..... if a tenant is more than 8 weeks in arrears .... you can demand that the Council pay the Housing Benefit directly to the landlord ... and they cannot refuse your demand! Indeed, many Council's switch benefit payments to landlords when the arrears are more than 4 weeks.

Additionally, as part of the reduction in Housing Benefit rates (that is being phased in from April 2011) - Councils are now prepared to pay the Housing Benefit directly to the landlord from the very start of the tenancy (without any arrears being in place).

So ... the point I am making is ..... if the tenant "stays put based on Housing Officer advice" ..... the landlord should not lose out on any rent whilst the Court issues the possession order. The cost of any possession order can be deducted as a cost from the tenant's deposit.

I know of many Housing Officers who advise the tenant not to be intimidated by the Section 21 notice and not to give up their tenancy until they have found somewhere else to live as they will be making themselves "intentionally homeless". I know landlords don't like this advice ..... but - from a tenant and legal perspective - it is good advice!

In my experience, very few tenants stay beyond the Section 21 notice as tenants don't like living in a property "illegally" ...... and for those who do stay .... an accelerated possession order (paid by the tenant or the Council) usually does the trick.

In 10 years of renting to HB tenants across 200+ properties ...... I have only needed to apply for accelerated possession orders to remove HB tenants twice .... and I have never had to involve the bailiffs!

Hope that helps ...


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Your experienced advice about Accelerated Possession is essentially same as mine was to the landlord when the Section 21 notice expired. However the reality was that, with the tenant deciding to overstay, the LL was obliged to resort to solicitors (as also advised on this forum) and the court eviction process took about three months, not 28 days. I await to hear whether the local authority has agreed to reimburse LL's losses and costs incurred.

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