Nottingham City Council has been slammed for wasting taxpayers’ money after spending £95,000 taking a landlord to the Supreme Court and losing
The council challenged a landlord in court over the size of two student bedrooms, but lost the case. However, rather than accept the verdict, Nottingham City Council decided to mount an appeal against the ruling.
A judge once again sided with the landlord when the case was heard at an upper tribunal, and yet the local authority continued to challenge the verdict, taking the case to both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, where they also lost.
The council spent a total of £95,742 taking the case to different courts between November 2014 and October 2018, including £86,990 for legal costs, £1,405 on travel, and £7,347 on council staff, according to a Freedom of Information Request.
Speaking to the press, Giles Inman, business development manager for East Midlands Property Owners, one of the largest landlord associations in Nottingham, said: “In these times of austerity we are told the council does not have any money for this or that but they do for a nonsense case.
“If you go to a tribunal and you lose, okay, you appeal again at an upper tribunal but then you would give up.
“But they went to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and lost. It is just shocking.
“It is public money. When you look at the costs it is astonishing. We fell off our chairs when we saw how much. I have never come across something like this before.”
The council challenged landlord Dominic Parr over two HMO’s in Rothesay Avenue and Bute Avenue in Lenton, occupied by student renters.
The council was unhappy with the fact that the attics in both properties had been converted into bedrooms, which does not meet the minimum space provision of 8sqm.
But the court ruled that the two rooms were adequate for use as bedrooms.
Cllr Linda Woodings, portfolio holder for housing and planning at Nottingham City Council, said: “We believe as a matter of principle and fairness that there should be a minimum acceptable bedroom size that applies to everyone.
“We were therefore disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling because in effect, it means one group of people are being forced to accept a lower standard of accommodation than others.
“There is a real concern that this could be the thin end of the wedge and that the same interpretation could be applied to other minimum standards for HMOs such as the number and size of bathroom or kitchen facilities.
“The Supreme Court ruling is based on the law as it stands but the Government supported the council’s appeal so we hope it will seriously consider revising the existing legislation to end this unfair anomaly.
“We felt strongly that there was a significant issue of unfairness at stake, which meant that tenants living in shared accommodation were at risk of suffering poorer quality housing than someone living in exactly the same house but on a separate tenancy.
“We aim to achieve quality housing for all, not just some, which is why we were prepared to take this case through the courts and had support from Government on our position, so it’s disappointing the Supreme Court ruled as it did.”