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Council spends £95k taking landlord to Supreme Court and loses

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.”

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    What a disgrace the council should be ashamed but clearly they are not

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    Agree with above. Right when there wrong.

  • Amanda Burrow

    Council are taking me to court!! They should be ashamed Iv worked for35 years closely with them , my costs are massive for the council to mess me around and now they send me more homeless Teanats who I would normally help !! I’m a loss at this total waste of thousands of tax payers money !! A simple chat with me asking me to do things the way they liked would of been fine !! Court crazy I could go to prison for a lick change

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    Personally i would not work with councils and i most certainly would not take their homeless in, council's problem not mine, i stick to decent tenants that work for a living.

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    "....because in effect, it means one group of people are being forced to accept a lower standard of accommodation than others."
    What tosh. The tenant/s had the ability to say no to the room/s so they were not FORCED to accept the standard on offer at all. It was through choice not coercion.
    I have said it before and I say it yet once again - exaggeration for the sake of emphasis.
    Shame on the Council.

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    Paid for my their empty house council tax scam all these rotten parasites of councils operate

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    This is how stupid councils are.
    If you have a single person living in a property they apply a 25% reduction in council tax as less of council and public services are being used by that single person. If you have Nobody living in a property because say its being refurbished due to last tenant trashing it, so nobody using council and public services you get No discount! Work that one out but don't ask the council because they will spend council tax money giving a reply that confirms they are a bunch of money grabbing brainless idiots. Also the biggest landlords in UK caused the largest number of fatilities in one building and not one council worker has been prosecuted.

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    Great post their squeezing of landlords is and will bite them back through homelessness and temp accommodation. So they try to extort money out of hard working landlords and it costs them more in the long run housing the vunerable in b&b and travel lodges u really couldn’t make it up. Here’s an idea stop milking us with ur rotten licensing schemes and empty house council tax and work with us and u just may solve the quite evident homelessness problem and housing crisis.

     
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    I helped councils with taking "on benefit tenants"
    NO more,let them house them,councils are useless idiots.who ,by the way,pay themselves,very well.!

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    What a ridiculous waste of time and money.

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    Public sector officials and "representatives" should have to risk their OWN money and positions - like the hapless landlords - when they persecute the public they're supposed to serve. Only then will we have a level playing field. HMRC are also very guilty of this.

    If the council think tenants are"forced" to live in "sub standard" conditions they should build more homes. I've never seen a cardboard box that gives 8 square metres of floor space.

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    Typical council losing sight of sense and reality. Convictions and rules over pragmatism.
    "People being forced" to accept lower standards....I can see the landlords there, stealing money from the tenant with a gun to there head.....forcing them to take the room!!

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    What is this 8 square metres they are referring to. I am licensing a HMO and it states single occupancy 6.51 square metres and double occupancy 10.22 square metres. Am I missing something?

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    Yes,i am confused too,please someone explain,

     
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    One of my extenant became homeless believing his family would get accommodated in a house according to the size of the family. They (5 members) were bundled into a small sized room emergency accommodation? Where did 8sqm standard fit in there?

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    One of my tenants said yesterday that they were looking to move as I had increased the rent to cover the cost of landlord licensing in Nottingham. Her plan is to go into a council house. Which one I don’t know even some tenants are as thick as the council. I told her that should a council house come available she could leave without penalty (new ast signed) expect to see her to sign new ast again next year lol

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