HAs and Private sector leasing – high rents

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  • #23237
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Morning all,

    We have been looking into a Housing Association that appears to be charging high rents for the area (£150 – £170 per week – pure rent no services).

    After a little investigation it appears that the properties in question are owned by a private landlord who is leasing to Housing Association X, who is leasing to Housing Association Y, who is renting to the tenant and benefit is being paid to Housing Association Z (just to add to the confusion).

    The property is described as temporary accomodation, although some of the tenants have been resident for two years or so.

    I’ve worked in other LAs with a similar arrangement where private landlords lease to the Council, however there is no Council housing of any description at this LA.

    We were contemplating referring these properties to the rent service – no decision has been made yet and we will consider all the circumstances.

    What I am wondering is whether there is any provision that would prevent us from making a referral to the rent service.

    We’d be very grateful if anyone else could offer their views.

    #11588
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I am somewhat confused as to how Housing Association Y can be the claimant’s landlord, yet the liability is to Housing Association Z…

    Be that as it may, since the tenant’s landlord is a housing association (whether Y or Z is immaterial), para. 3(1)(b) of Schedule 2 to the HBR 2006 specifically permits a LA to refer the rent to the Rent Service where the landlord is a registered HA and the LA considers the rent to be excessive.

    #11589
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [b:7355ac338d]HBR 14(1) & (4)(b) & Sch 2; paras 3(1)(b) & 3(2) apply(ies)[/b:7355ac338d].

    A question….

    1) Are any of the “HAs” [u:7355ac338d]registered[/u:7355ac338d] with the Housing Corp?

    If not registered (with the Housing Corp), a ROR is required. If registered, there is not normally a referal UNLESS the LA considers the rent to be “unreasonably high” ([b:7355ac338d]Sch 2; para 3(1)(b)[/b:7355ac338d]).

    It’s worth noting that if the LA does in fact consider the rent to be “unreasonably high”, a referal MUST be made – it is not discretionary [HBR 14(1) & (4)(b)].

    Hope this helps.

    #11590
    seanosul
    Participant

    Be careful when deciding whether to refert the Rent to the Rent Service as the decision cannot be reversed. This policy may well have been made in agreement with your own Housing Department (whether or not they have LA properties).

    Remember you must decide whether the rent payable for that dwelling is unreasonably high, not just high.

    #11591
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote:242c3c28f6]Sean wrote:

    Be careful when deciding whether to refert the Rent to the Rent Service as the decision cannot be reversed[/quote:242c3c28f6]

    Trouble is, there is no discretion…..

    #11592
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Not a discretion, but a subjective decision as to whether or not the rent is unreasonable which, in practice, can amount to the same thing.

    #11593
    Kevin D
    Participant

    🙂 I know I’m picking holes, but there is an important distinction.

    In my view, a “subjective judgement” doesn’t amount to the same thing as discretion – not even in practice.

    It’s a bit like “good cause” in backdating. Backdating isn’t discretionary – it is mandatory. So long as it is judged that “good cause” has been shown.

    #11594
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Yes I’m conscious of the fact that once referred, we are bound by the RO’s decision.

    We’ve not yet made any decision as to whether we consider the rents to be unreasonably high and are reserving judgment until we have the facts clear.

    My view is that in deciding whether the accomodation is unreasonably high we need to consider the fact that our housing department may have had some involvement in the arrangement.

    I also think that if there is a private landlord involved, who will presumably be expecting a commercial rent, plus a HA who is managing the properties – these are factors that might push the rents up without rending the rents unreasonable.

    Keeping an open mind, but just wanted to clarify whether there was anything that prevented us from referring to the rent service – particularly in view of the fact that these sort of arrangements are more usually managed by a Council housing department rather than a Housing Association.

    Thanks for your comments

    #11595
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Sean makes an important point about joined-up decision making. If the Council’s Housing Department has been involved in planning the scheme and has given the impression that it considers the proposed rent levels to be acceptable, that makes it very hard for the same Council to say it is referring them to the RO because the rents are unreasonably high.

    At the very least the Council could look foolish, there might even be legal problems (JR on grounds of reasonable expectation, perhaps?)

    PS – added after your last post Charlie. I’m not sure that this kind of arrangement is all that unusual, even in Councils that still have their own housing stock. Temporary accommodation for homeless people has traditionally been obtained by any means possible including block-booking of B&B, leasing directly from private landlords and involving RSLs as intermediaries as in this case. Depending on the exact role of the HA, it could be “HALS” or “HAMA” but they are all established schemes.

    What would be less common would be for a Council to discharge its final duty to a homeless applicant or even a waiting list applicant by introducing them to an RSL landlord who has leased the accommodation from a private landlord and saying “there you go, have a nice life”. Is that what’s going on here?

    #11596
    Anonymous
    Guest

    [quote:502b0123b3]In my view, a “subjective judgement” doesn’t amount to the same thing as discretion – not even in practice.[/quote:502b0123b3]

    Forgive my saying so, Kevin, but you are being naieve!

    #11597
    Kevin D
    Participant

    As you are incorrect (re “naive”), you are forgiven…. 😆

    #11598
    Anonymous
    Guest

    On the subjective/objective point – from a jurisprudential point of view ‘reasonableness’ is something that is supposed to connote an objective test and is distinct from the question of whether or not there is a discretion to do a given thing.

    [Leaving aside the metaphysical point about whether rational beings are capable of ‘objective’ reasoning]

    #11599
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Naieve…I’m being old-fashioned, as the word is correctly spelled with an umlaut over the “i”, which gives the word its distinct pronunciation (from the French naïve, feminine of naïf). Not having an i with an umlaut to hand, the convention is then to insert an “e”.

    And I am right…you know as well as I do that people effectively make a discretionary decision by hiding behind a subjective judgement…backdating being an excellent case in point.

    #11600
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I have carefully considered the evidence and come to the objective conclusion that I don’t like your face so you’re going down

    #11601
    Stalbansbenefits
    Participant

    Have a look at circular A28/2002 for guidance on Private Sector Leasing.

    Given that these properties appear to be in the South East of England, is £150-£170 per week really that high? Perhaps when compared to other Housing Association rents it is, but possibly not when compared to the Private Sector. £170 per week might [i:ed2d00f13b]just[/i:ed2d00f13b] get you a one-bedroomed flat in St.Albans….

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