The Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has written to all local councils in England to underline government guidance on the advice that councils give to tenants when seeking re-housing on the grounds of “homelessness” when faced with an eviction notice.
The landlord associations have been lobbying the Minister for some time about what they see as erroneous guidance given by many local councils to tenants when they are seeking re-housing.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) say they have conducted research earlier this year that confirms what many landlords have been reporting for some time: that an alarming number of private tenants are being told by their local council to ignore eviction notices served by their landlords. They are often told to stay-put until bailiffs to turn up before moving out, otherwise they will not qualify for housing assistance and rehousing support.
The NLA says it has consistently warned that this advice was wrong and is increasingly being offered because councils refuse to accept tenants’ housing applications before an order for possession has been granted by a Court. This is despite guidance from central Government that confirms that all housing applications should be accepted from the time notice is served on the tenant, provided the notice is legitimate and has every chance of resulting in a successful eviction.
Mr Lewis told councils that 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.
The guidance states 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. Unless a local authority has very good reason to depart from the statutory guidance, then they should not be placing households in this position.”