York Council has teamed up with Justice for Tenants (JFT) to help more residents claim rent repayment orders from errant landlords in what is claimed to be a 'ground-breaking partnership'.
Councillors agreed the deal with the campaign group, which represents tenants during tribunals and takes a cut of the financial award if they’re successful.
JFT claims to be involved with more than half of rent repayment cases in England and already has service level agreements with many other local authorities, through sharing intelligence to support enforcement activities.
York Council’s health and sustainable homes manager, Anthony Dean, told a housing executive decision meeting that JFT provided tenants with the ability to make an application which was often time-consuming and costly.
“From the local authority’s perspective, it will assist us in terms of identifying properties that are problematic and try to encourage local residents who live in poor quality accommodation…to make a complaint because they’ll have the financial recompense should they be successful in the application,” he said.
Tenants who complain will be directed to the group.
Executive member for housing, councillor Michael Pavlovic (pictured), explained it would replace the council’s less efficient method of checking landlords.
“As a ward councillor with a lot of HMOs in my ward, one of the things that we rely on, frankly, are residents to be our eyes and ears effectively,” he said. Pavlovic added that he wanted to see the authority and JFT working together to make sure that tenants knew the partnership exists.
“It’s great having it as a system but if nobody knows it’s there, they can’t have recourse to it. And if we are trying to encourage landlords who are not aware they have to licence – there may still be some – this might be a prompt for them to register.”