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Council is slammed for siding with landlord who ‘illegally’ evicted family

Maidstone Borough Council has been criticised by a government watchdog and ordered to pay in excess of £4,000 after a private landlord unlawfully evicted a family of homeless refugees.

The young family, including two children, had been living in temporary accommodation in Maidstone, arranged by the authority via a private landlord.

However, following a minor dispute, the family, which were granted asylum two years ago, were ordered to vacate the property because the landlord claimed that they had breached their tenancy agreement.

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The landlord was unhappy that the family, who have not been named, caused damage to the property, which included marked walls, stains on the carpet and a broken lampshade.

During the eviction, last July, the landlord put the family’s belongings outside and denied them access to parts of the flat. 

The family were forced to move in to a B&B, where they remained for 11 weeks while alternative housing was found.

But the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the family’s eviction was unlawful because they should have been given a written warning and were legally entitled to 28 days’ notice to vacate the property.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has now urged Maidstone Borough Council to apologise to the tenants and repay £2,170 for costs incurred, including a week’s B&B accommodation, and a further £2,000 for the distress and inconvenience caused.

Ombudsman Michael King said: “Maidstone council sided with the landlord and allowed him to unlawfully evict this family... without hearing the family's point of view.” 

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    Was it an eviction or part eviction it says they were not allowed access to part of the Flat. They get housed and kept for 2 years but can’t respect the property. Landlords stress don’t count it seems he’s not considered human. This is one of the first times a Council sided with a LL and gets penalised for it, so the Council is not allowed to be impartial and make a judgment in other words its mandatory to side with Tenants.

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    I do not follow this for two reasons:
    1) where is the evidence that the council sided with the landlord? It was the landlord who threw the tenants out. The council possibly have a duty to take action over illegal evictions but seem very variable in this role. There are cases where landlords have been sent to prison for doing what the Maidstone landlord did and in other cases the council say they will take no action usually because they say they do not have the resources.

    2) The ombudsman with wrong to say that the correct procedure was that 28 days notice must be given. This sounds like a notice to quit which is given to a licensee. I cannot see how a family living in the flat could be a licensee. They would be assured shorthold tenants.

    In any event even if the correct notice had been given in the correct form a court order must be obtained to remove a residential occupier and the only people who can remove them are the court bailiffs.

    If you want to try and understand this read my book 'HMOs and Compensation for Unlawful Eviction'

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    The landlord is rid of them, I doubt he will be taking refugees or anyone from the council again, lesson learnt there and the risk paid off.

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    Very good you make a number of fair points. However, Council don’t manage their finances but waste not responsible to anyone, increase c/tax 6%, take £20m from private LL in some London Boroughs then complain about resources. I believe you are right about notice period, whether it should have been 2 months or 4 months.
    The evidence is there Jim they didn’t take action against the LL, there’s your evidence.
    I never ever read a Book in my life no point in starting now.
    I am sure your book is very good as you are very knowledgable and I commend you on that.
    Honestly I have so much Regulations, compliance and crap to deal with I haven’t time to pee not alone read.

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