20 Nov 2020
A LONG READ – Well Worth it. Especially if you were born between 1950 and 1980 and, you are a LANDLORD.
A client Of Landlord Licensing & Defence who has lived in abject terror for months due to bullying and ridiculous Local Council action had a Happy Outcome at Court today!
Terrified by Council Enforcement; a client who had been summoned to court by an overly aggressive local council for housing offences got a fantastic result today.
They had issued 10 summonses against them for Housing Offences which appeared rather overzealous.
With 10 summonses you might think this person was a terrible landlord doing terrible things.
Actually, they are very similar to you and me, just not perfect enough for a heavy-handed enforcement officer – who clearly has no respect for the older generation and their education, when of course they think that “showing their might” is a better option than guidance and time to implement it.
Like most landlords of a certain older generation so much has changed in the last 10 years it is quite a shock when the council appears at the door of your rented property with good loyal and happy tenants and it is obvious their sole intention is to find fault and culpability – even when there had been no complaints from the happy tenants to investigate nor check the property.
It needed some things doing, definitely, and some time to do them, but like the parking warden standing over the car waiting for the meter time to expire, this officer was waiting to pounce on the said date when He’d demanded the things should be done.
Most were done and the other things were in the process, but still let’s attack and enforce with no regard to the circumstances, and not explaining that they can protest.
Just turning up placing the landlord under caution and marching around like a desperate soldier from war looking for anything to accuse them of.
The landlord is someone’s parent.
If this officer was a Police Officer he would be suspended.
In a council, he is a glorified leader who takes no excuses from anyone.
There were no complaints from the tenants and they were living happily and had been for many years, many issues were results of tenant neglect and not reporting as is so often the case.
The property was pretty much like it has been for the last 20 years with regular maintenance when required, all of the things that that we all need to certify, were in order, so statutory items like gas, electric, etc were all in order.
Of course, every one of us; even in our own homes does not have everything perfect and compliant with Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 requires, but of course, if we are not in a rented property, they don’t pursue us.
But, if someone wants to find something wrong they will find something wrong, just like the thug who looks for trouble can always find it or create it.
Nowadays many power-hungry enforcement officers seem to have watched too many episodes of the 1970s-90s fictitious police and crime dramas and mimic those police from the television in their actions, attitude and nonsense.
The landlord with more than 60 years alive, with no criminal record or blemishes to date, was facing criminal charges and enormous fines (possibly unlimited) because of this situation.
The Council’s solicitor had no regard for the person, their fixing everything and ongoing maintenance plans and management plans, no consideration, just we must prosecute and get them in court.
THE GOOD NEWS
Today, what was expected to be a quick plea hearing when our client would simply state “Not Guilty”, became a long court case where Good Counsel (Yes that is Counsel not council ) A senior Barrister employed by us, worked like an Alchemist; and magically had 5 charges completely dropped and the other 5 left as cases to answer sometime next year.
This legal magician saved our client a fortune in potential fines by getting justice where it was immediately needed – and setting a good ground to answer the remaining charges and over the coming months, which I do believe they will all be dropped too.
This is great news, yet cases like this come across our desks every day and sometimes the client is wise, as this one was and others place the cost of the representations over and above the liberty and possible dismissal of all claims charges and fines.
This is a case where the Landlord was wise to take action and get help and we see many who attempt to self-defend and make things worse.
The Housing Act 2004 and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 are quite frankly complex and have many consequences that are second nature to firms like ours and the councils and that is why councils are so successful against landlords dealing with them directly when a firm like ours outsmarts them and establishes their incompetence, failings and vileness.
Landlords who choose to self-defend, we generally find self-incriminate and the more they say, the worse it gets, the more they explain, the worse it gets, the more they protest, the more they self-incriminate and so it goes on the more they say, the worse it gets.
Today’s hearing has seen the council fail to secure five nonsense convictions and as a result we have saved the client the landlord from fines probably between £15,00 and £40,000 as the charges have been withdrawn in those 5 cases.
Please, if you are a landlord and you are in the older generation where so much was different when you started out, as to what it is now, do seek help to check your portfolio is compliant in all areas of the Housing Act 2004, so you do not fall foul of the many laws which are being used against landlords who are relatively good at what they do but not perfect.
They have provided good service for many years and now find themselves not up to date and hence being prosecuted and fined more than most thieves and crooks would be fined, mainly because they have not kept up with housing legislation.
As a landlord myself, I know there is so much to do. Also as someone who serves other landlords when they make those mistakes that we have all made; it hurts to see the fines, the prosecutions, the mental strain and the damage to families these overzealous enforcers create when there are so many better ways to achieve the same result for the landlord and tenant and not use up valuable court time and rectification time and money.
As a landlord, please know the law, know what you’re doing and if you don’t, please seek help and from those who are qualified and that includes agents, property management companies and specialist consultancies such as our firm. Only use those who understand what they are doing, because some just do not.
Yes, and many are excellent too.
In the coming weeks, we will do a webinar with one of our barristers and share with many of you, some of the things we hate about the Housing Act, Council Enforcement and How many landlords can avoid all of this by following some simple rules.
Today justice was done in part and still some way to go.
Our thanks go out to the barrister and to our client for what has been a fantastic day in some respects and still leaves a lot of work to be done in the coming months to clear up what is left.
Rest assured the client is happy, the barrister who went to what he expected to be a short plea hearing, fought so well and after 5 hours he had successfully crushed the council nonsense and in the coming months will attempt to do the same to the rest of it. It is so important to have all the preparation done as he did.
As you can appreciate this is an ongoing case and we will be able to fully report in the future when clear justice is done.