A landlord who leased his flat to the council for more than 15 years said that had experienced the equivalent of a “revenge eviction”.
Brighton and Hove City Council initially agreed to renew its contract with the landlord, who asked to be identified as Liam Keough, although this is not his real name.
But the council withdrew its offer after he raised concerns about his most recent council tenant, who eventually moved out of the recently refurbished flat but left it filled with belongings and left surfaces covered with mouldy food.
The flat was refurbished between 18 months and two years ago when a new boiler was fitted along with LED lights.
When a new tenant moved in last year, Mr Keough’s other tenants in the Lewes Road property complained. They said that the new arrival was dealing drugs from the flat and that the police were regular visitors.
The nightmare tenant also ran an extension lead from the communal hallway into his flat.
Mr Keough said that over the years that he had leased the flat to the council, he had experienced “good and bad” tenants, with one person living there for 10 years.
Some have flooded the building, stolen electricity and removed the boiler. Mr Keough said: “I’ve had a lot of hassle but I’m quite happy it’s a good agreement. I get less rent but it’s guaranteed.
“I’m helping people out and giving them the benefit of the doubt. Whatever happened, that money is coming in. Whatever damage is caused, if it is a problem, it gets rectified.
“Then I wondered why they weren’t renewing it. They told me they don’t want properties any more but I went on their website where they’re saying they do want properties.
“If I phone them up saying I’m a new landlord with a property in Brighton, they say they’re interested. I told them they’re handing it back but don’t know why – and neither do I.
“The council has probably had it for 20 years. If there’s a problem, the council isn’t slow in contacting me to deal with it.
“If they came to me and said there was a problem, I would sort it out straight away. Now they will not give me a reason.
“I had an email saying they’re not taking on properties but that’s not the case because they are taking on properties. It’s on the website.
“When I went down to inspect the property and found the mess, the council said, don’t worry about it. We’ll sort something out. It’s sorted. Then I was shut down and ignored. They’re handing the keys back.”
He added: “Revenge is the word for it.”
Mr Keough said that he would rather help house someone than rent the flat out as a holiday let which he described as a “hassle”.
His frustrations included noisy tenants when the flat was supposed to be listed as a “sensitive let” because it is next to a funeral director and chapel of rest.
The council said: “It is normal when properties leased for use as temporary accommodation are due for renewal that we assess their suitability for re-leasing.
“In this instance, we have decided that due to its size, layout and energy efficiency rating, the property no longer meets the needs of our more vulnerable homeless clients who are accommodated through private sector leasing.
“We have offered the owner the opportunity of being part of our Direct Lettings Scheme instead as a means of continuing to use his property.
“Direct Lettings is used for clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access settled accommodation in the private sector.”
The council said that the advantages of this scheme over and above leasing included
- Offering the owner a no-fee solution to match tenants
- A free tenancy sustainment service
- Free inventories and access to the council’s rent deposit guarantee scheme
- Achieving rents closer to market rents than they would receive through the leasing scheme
Mr Keough was unimpressed with the council’s response, calling it “cut and paste”. He said: “They send this out to everyone who makes a complaint. That’s the straight reply. They haven’t identified any points raised.”
He added that no energy-efficiency tests had taken place but the boiler was two years old and the flat had energy-efficient LED lighting.
Nothing to see here….
So, it was reassessed as not suitable for vulnerable residents, but offered as a normal renting solution?
So no problem? This is a bit of non-story.
The stste of the flat in the picture is a right mess.With rubbish left everywhere. It’s not nice to find out your flat looks like a doss-hole. Anyone would complain you are well in your rights to do so. Someone’s belongings left in the property I don’t know what the legal issues are there. We know that properties are needed and those who are homeless do need accommodation but with support to go with it. Such as over the phone support for the homeless tenants, access to mental health support and financial support such as benefit entitlement. People who are vulnerable need support. Furthermore, people who deal in drugs are breaking the law and so are people who take them for example: anti-social behaviour. The Councils do have specific powers and can have a housing officer to visit, or warn the tenant and go through the courts eventually.
Indeed. Flats being left in states like these are why there are delays in getting empty flats back on the social housing register.
Comparing this to an actual revenge eviction (being thrown out of your home for asking the landlord to maintain their end of the contract) is an insult and just shows how out of touch and over privileged landlords are.