Archive for November, 2009

Naughty agent

House recently helped a colleague at the County Court help Desk scheme that House’s organisation runs.

Whilst time is often rather short, House was looking through a tenancy agreement for a tenant who had been served with a section 21 notice. The Tenancy agreement stated that the deposit had been protected with the TDS and as it was a valid notice House thought the tenant didn’t have any hope.

For a change and thinking why hadn’t House done it in the past House decided to call the TDS and just double check the deposit had been protected despite what was said in the tenancy agreement. Surprise surprise the deposit had been protected on the same day the notice was served by the solicitors, many many months after the tenancy had commenced. 

The agent representing the Landlord wasn’t very happy when having pointed this out to the Judge dismissed the claim (yes probably arguements either way with this one but the Judge just wasn’t too impressed)!

House wonders how many agents are doing this and wonders whether it was a mere oversight.

Anyhow perhaps a lesson that a quick call in such circumstances can’t hurt and House has beaten himself severally for having failed to do so in the past.


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How many matters a month?

Like soo many House’s Charity is currently preparing to bid for the new round of CLS tenders.

The trouble with the Charity is that it pays its advisers too much money and as such can’t afford any administration. Still this doesn’t seem to worry the bosses of said Charity as they propose that one Housing adviser can do 27 Housing starts for each month they work and that they do all their own administration, everything. On top of this they must perform individual file reviews for two other advisers.

Of course 27 Housing starts is from day 1 of the Contract and does not take into account that other advisers might be ill, leave, get pregnant etc.

House thinks this is madness. Quality of advice is likely to go down the toilet as advisers struggle to meet ever more impossible targets with fewer resources. 

For many, especially those who just deal with Legal Help, there is no profit at all anymore in running a contract, in fact it would appear from House’s experience that Organisations have gone from making a slight profit (too subsidise other parts of the Organisation), having an administrator and full time adviser to making no profit and often a loss with full time adviser who is overworked due to having no administration at all.

Ho hum, got a bit off topic there.

On topic, how many Legal Help Housing matters do you think a Housing adviser could do with no administration at all?

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Stealing your matters

It would appear that John Sirodcar of the LSC is trying to run away with your matter starts. More info HERE.

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House is tired of advising the homeless people with low incomes who have no priority need for accommodation.

Sometimes Foyers will help young people, some hostels might temporarily help others. Rent deposit schemes might help a few (even fewer as many LA’s will only offer them to those who have a Priority Need, figure that one out!) if you are lucky enough be accepted and find a landlord willing to take whatever form of bond might be offered. A crisis loan might help a few as it can pay for rent in advance if you are lucky enough to find a landlord who accepts housing benefit.

For the rest House despairs. Who knows why the ‘Social Fund’ can’t pay for deposits.

 House knows of a housing adviser who ended up lending their client £100 just so they would have a roof over their head. The client was a single homeless person who had got themselves a key worker and a support worker whilst coming off drugs. Sadly they weren’t vulnerable enough to have a priority need. Their rent deposit application was turned down.

They didn’t know anyone. They were sleeping rough and shoplifting for food whilst trying to find accommodation. Most Landlords they contacted wouldn’t take Housing Benefit. Most wanted £500 + deposit plus rent in advance. The client was beginning to despair. The temptation to relapse into drug addiction was great.

 Finally the client found a Landlord who only required £250 deposit. As the client only had £150 the adviser came to lend them £100.

Should they have done so, professionally maybe not, but can one blame them?

The £100 may well have prevented the client relapsing into drugs and from shoplifting with all the cost to society that these two things bring. Finally the £100 just gave a person trying to change themselves a roof over their head and a chance to better themselves.




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The Homelessness charity Shelter is asking people to sign an e-petition regarding our rather outdated overcrowding laws. Please sign up HERE.

Whilst House thinks the law on overcrowding won’t change it certainly won’t if one doesn’t try!


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More shortsightedness

Thanks to the LAG blog, House, being a fan of prevention rather than punishment, found THIS video very interesting.

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If you’re Homeless or threatened with homelessness in 28 days and want assistance from a Local Authority then a Local Authority should treat you in accordance with the Housing Act 1996, particularly Part VII. In addition to this they should take note of guidance contained within the Homelessness Code of Guidance.

Unfortunately for you the Department for Community and Local Government don’t like  Local Authorities acting in accordance with the Law. The reasons for this are many, one of them is that it messes up their nice statistics such as these taken from here.

Now preventing homelessness can be a good thing (and House does, in certain circumstances, see the value in Rent Deposit schemes) but as the CLG don’t enquire too much as to how LA’s reduce homelessness LA’s will often refuse to assist you in accordance with the Law. For example if you are homeless and give the LA reason to believe you are homeless then if you are told to go away and you do you won’t be recorded as a homeless statistic because the LA won’t have taken a ‘homeless approach from you’. Great for the stats, bad for you.   

This is not to say the LA won’t help anyone, that’s because it would look rather too suspicious and the CLG don’t really won’t everyone to know they are quite aware that LA’s aren’t helping people as they should.

Further to this, House has reason to believe that some organisations that you might seek advice from in order to challenge the LA won’t help you to the best of their ability because they receive funding from the LA and this might be withdrawn if they complain to the LA too much.

This is why House likes to show tricks commonly used to get people to go away. You can see some tricks HERE. Other tricks will be  published by House in due course.

Sadly it would appear that homeless people aren’t valued much by society so this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

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