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Watch Out For Councils Pursuing Landlords for Tenant’s Rubbish

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tenants rubbish easy cleanersWe’ve come across a great blog post here regarding potential changes to the way in which local authorities chase culprits who don’t correctly use refuse bins. This was from the Housing Minister amidst changes for HMOs generally, and is regarding rented properties.

Typically, the tenant occupier is responsible for using bins correctly, however these potentially new-found powers could allow a local authority to go after a landlord as well.

The writer of this piece, a property specialist, believes this is actually over the top and unworkable. From a cleaning perspective we have to agree, as it’s already difficult enough to actually deal with potential rubbish issues rather than complicating this with more input.

The focus should actually be on other angles, for example effective communication with everyone as to how they use these areas, and making it clear in any tenancy agreements and documents. Also, to focus on the consequences of this being misused, for example penalties and cost-recharges, and who will help resolve any mess and issues.

We have blogged in the past about issues with communal bin store areas and how to get these back in shape.

Although nothing solid is agreed yet, and this is more a focus from the Housing Minister, there’s a few issues that the author here raises as practical problems with involving a landlord:

1. Enforcement

How any breach would actually be controlled and enforced by the local authority, whether that’s looking at the actual penalty or how to determine an effective situation.

2. Local Authority Departments

The procurement of refuse facilities is different to that involved with property matters, therefore forms of overlap and delegated authority will need to be determined.

3. Shared Issues

When you’re dealing with collective refuse areas with a variety of different occupiers and maybe an overall landlord, it becomes increasingly difficult to catch the culprit and then implement effective sanctions.

4. Tenant Action

For a guilty tenant, knowing what a landlord can do will need clarifying, whether a valid ground to restrict lease renewals and having the ability to issue charges and enforcement of conditions.

It’s also worth noting the three existing powers and opportunities to deal with tenant-rubbish issues that are also mentioned here:

i. Statutory Powers

Councils have power under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to notify landowners to resolve dumped rubbish in garden issues or pay the cost. Although this can be practical to use, it may be a grey area as to whether general bin-rubbish and recycle material comes under this.

ii. Works in Default

This is another power for Councils to clear a landlord’s area and recharge the cost to them with an administration cost on top.

iii. Direct Penalties

This is another option for direct address with occupiers causing issues.

Therefore, although this is only hearsay now, it’s a subject worthy of looking at for those with rented properties. There are the existing powers above for local authorities to be able to use for messy tenants, and even if this new-found landlord power did come into play there are many practical issues to iron-out.

In the meantime, keep it simple and make sure this is crystal-clear with all occupiers as to how rubbish is dealt with. Then have a clear plan to monitor and manage this, with courses of action to rectify any issues and provide feedback to those causing this.

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Guest Monday, 22 October 2018

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