Councils told to stop telling tenants in process of eviction to stay put

Local authorities must stop routinely advising tenants to stay put until the bailiff arrives before they can be accepted as homeless.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has written to all chief executives of local councils saying that households should not be put in this position, and clarifying the guidance about homelessness.

In his letter he says: “Authorities should not routinely be advising tenants to stay until the bailiffs arrive; there is no barrier to them assisting the tenant before this. By doing this, local authorities miss a valuable opportunity to prevent homelessness.”

The letter follows pressure from ARLA, whose managing director David Cox has repeatedly raised the issue of local authorities advising tenants to stay in their property beyond the notice period, compelling the landlord to go to court to gain possession, running up considerable costs.

In his letter, Lewis says: “Landlords and tenants continue to raise concerns about local authorities advising tenants to stay when issued with a Notice seeking possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy under Section 21 (1) or (4) of the Housing Act 1988.

“I receive a large amount of correspondence on this.”

He continues: “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 S21 notice.

“It says 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.

“The Guidance states that if the landlord intends to seek possession and there would be no defence to an application for a possession order, then it is unlikely that it would be reasonable for the applicant to continue to occupy the accommodation.

“Unless a local authority has very good reason to depart from the statutory guidance, then they should not be placing households in this position.”

Lewis says that he will specifically be looking at the way local authorities deal with S21 notices.

Cox said that he hoped that the letter would end what has been a “real problem” for the industry, but added that ARLA would continue to press the minister on the issue.

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  1. sanjeev

    About time. Long over due.

    1. SarahPercy33

      Clearly hasn’t made it to Southend or Rochford Council as they are still giving out the same old advice.  The Tenants’ seem to be under the misapprehension that in staying put they will get a nice shiny Council property.  In reality there is no social housing available and these tenants are simply stuck in a hostel for 28 days, generally losing their deposits as costs are awarded against them during the court process!   So very short sighted of the local authorities – just putting off the inevitable.  They don’t even listen to their housing minister.

  2. kittygirl06

    He also needs to inform C advice and Shelter to stop advising tenants to stay put .

    Many will still wait for the bailiff in the hope of avoiding hostel accommodation and that they will be given temp accommodation in a flat or house.

    He also needs to ensure that the 280.00 eviction fee and 110.00 bailiff fee is recovered from the tenant before social housing or help with housing is given.  These fees are rarely recovered from the tenant and if they were made responsible for them and knew that a social house dfepended on them paying the fees many would leave on correct date.

    This would ease the pressure on the  courts and help the landlord



    1. ray comer

      I agree, I think defendants should pay the court costs into Court before the hearing and recover them if they win

  3. Ding Dong

    I think the Housing Minister needs to read his own statutory guidance first!!!

    The obligation to deal with a section 21 relates to those tenants who were placed in the private sector by the council initially and then then would have a duty to treat the section 21 as described above.

    For most tenants who enter the private rented sector off their own back, then the guidance as stipulated above does NOT apply.



  4. pierce

    Personally I think it will have little or no impact. The reason being is that the council are obliged to rehouse those that are homeless or are “In Danger Of Becoming Homeless”

    Brandon Lewis can write all the letters he wants but the LA won’t take notice if they don’t want to. they justify their actions somehow.

  5. pierce

    ^^^ Should read “They will justify their actions somehow.”

  6. Will

    ROGUE COUNCILS encouraging tenants to put themselves in contempt of court.  Council officials and other clearly being  HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL.  Need one say more!

  7. Will

    MAYBE these rogue councils and other organisations should be named and shamed.

  8. jad

    Named and shamed – what a good idea ………… let’s see if they like a dose of their own medicine on a daily basis. Altho’ not a user of Facebook or Twitter it would appear to be the best place to reach Tenants who are minded to ‘Stay Put’.

  9. David Lee

    I am not sure why Brentwood Council (Essex) have completely ignored this instruction. They have clearly advised my tenants to stay put until the actual eviction date  in order to secure themselves social housing. This is despite the fact that they have not paid rent for the last 5 months. Brentwood council are clearly encouraging squatting. This action is costing me a further £700.00 on top of the lost rent, court costs and other associated expenses. They claim the information provided is lawful but are unable to tell me exactly what law they are referring to.


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