Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Steve Gracey

Private Rental Sector

1. I understand that you are interested in submissions from interested parties covering the regulation of private rented housing. In particular I understand that you are interested in how local authorities discharge their homelessness duty by being able to place homeless households in private sector housing.

2. I am a professional landlord renting out 17 properties in the Aun area. I have done this for some 20 years. I have recently made a complaint to my council regarding their homelessness policy.

3. My local authority has an unofficial policy of encouraging tenants to stay beyond the section 21 date ending the tenancy. They advise them to stay in place until court action for eviction has been commenced and bailiffs instructed, otherwise the tenant will be deemed as intentionally homeless. This is I believe a fairly common malpractice used by some local authorities. It is specifically forbidden in Government guidance (8.32.b). It has been discussed by High Court, Parliament, Local Government Ombudsman and the Local Authorities concerned have always been found to be in the wrong. Shelter, NLA and others are concerned about this and in fact they have specific advice asking tenants to contact them if councils try to pursue this course of action.

4. This course of action serves little purpose as it costs the Landlord money in court costs and lost rent, damages the tenant’s references preventing them using the PRS in the future, and alienates the PRS from taking HB tenants in future. Furthermore it merely delays the inevitable as the homeless person presents as homeless two months later and the council still have the same workload. It only creates a delay and doesn’t solve the problem. It is also morally wrong to interfere with someone else’s legally binding contract and to damage an often vulnerable persons future housing options by putting a black mark against their name.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013