Councils are the next Post Office scandal, says landlord expert

Councils are the next Post Office scandal, as they are guilty of severe maladministration, excessive enforcement and unfair licensing conditions against private sector landlords.

That is according to Des Taylor, a director of Landlord Licensing & Defence, a company that helps landlords comply with regulations and defend themselves against council actions.

He said that tenants are treated in a substandard way by local housing authorities, while he claimed they fail to implement repairs and deal with anti-social behaviour for their own housing stock, while imposing criminal liability on landlords in the private sector for matters beyond their control.

Taylor said: “Councils are the next Post Office scandal – the makings are all there.

“Tenants are human beings who deserve decent living conditions, but they are let down by councils who make nonsense PR statements about learnings and not meeting their own high standards, when they are found guilty by the Housing Ombudsman for severe maladministration.”

He pointed to the recent £18,800 compensation order from the Housing Ombudsman for Waltham Forest Council failings in three different cases, where the council closed a file on a tenant’s desperate repair request and did not do the repair for 11 months, despite the property having severe issues of mould and damp.

Taylor added: “It is disgraceful that they would ignore a tenant’s plea for help and not do the repair.

“In the private rented sector, a landlord would be hounded by enforcement operatives from the council, have Abatement Notices, Improvement Notices imposed upon them, and face serious trouble and legal action if they did not act promptly or dared to challenge the council’s demands, even if they were incorrect.”

He also accused councils of subcontracting tasks to firms that misadvise landlords and tenants, and of imposing licence conditions that are entrapment and unfair.

Taylor said: “One of the council advisors asked a landlord if he would consider letting the tenant sublet, which would make a HMO, even though the area is both Article 4 (Planning Restricted) and a HMO Additional Licensing area, which would entrap the landlord if he had unwittingly agreed.

“Of course, they work for a landlord adversary, tenant loving company.”

He added: “Waltham Forest is a very regulated borough with Selective Licensing across the borough, with licence conditions that impose on licence holders the responsibility for ensuring compliance with its conditions at all times, and the criminal liability for anti-social behaviour, which the council and the police have proven themselves incapable of controlling.

“The council are not held to any standard and a Public Enquiry into this must happen for this and all local housing associations.”

He said that there are thousands of landlords who have been punished far more for far less serious matters, and that this will continue until the public enquiry takes place.