TH Renter Michael James was left feeling angry and offended last night after asking TH Council’s new cabinet member for housing, Sirajul Islam, what the council can do to speed up property inspections to make use of the new law to prevent revenge evictions.
Michael’s landlord attempted to evict him three times last year after he reported dangerous conditions at the 19-apartment block he lives in and so fully appreciates the importance of the new law that came into effect in October.
However, instead of offering any assurances or asking for an explanation if he wasn’t aware of the new law, Sirajul simply repeated the answer he gave to Michael’s previous question on landlord licensing.
The new law states that a private tenant cannot be evicted from his or her home for six months after the council has carried out an inspection and issued an improvement notice to the landlord following a complaint about sub-standard conditions.
However, as Michael found out, it can take up to a year for the council to carry out an inspection and 18-months to issue an improvement notice. To be fair to the council it was not one property they had to inspect, but 19. They then have to compile a report before issuing the improvement notice.
But the reality is that TH Council’s environmental health team – who carry out the inspections – is under-resourced and so they are unable to quickly respond to complaints meaning a landlord could evict a tenant who has complained before the council has inspected the property and issued an improvement notice.
Hence Michael’s question: “can the [cabinet member for housing] outline how he will speed up inspections and the issuing of improvement notices, so private renters can benefit from the new law that is supposed to prevent revenge evictions?”
The answer is clearly: “no he can’t.”