The London Borough of Brent, under Labour control, has implemented an unconventional approach to prevent a section 21 eviction by paying the landlord’s legal fees and rent. This move was prompted by the council’s severe shortage of social housing options.
The arrangement entails the landlord maintaining the accommodation while the council assumes responsibility for rent payments. The involvement of a lettings agency in London has brought this case to public attention, as they initially handled the process for their landlord client through LegalforLandlords.
In February of this year, a law firm filed an application with Willesden County Court, and in April, they were granted possession. Unfortunately, there’s a significant backlog in the enforcement process, leading to substantial delays in confirming bailiff appointments. As a result, some councils have advised tenants to wait patiently until the bailiffs can take action.
Nevertheless, Brent council chose a distinct path in June. Both the agent and landlord reached an agreement to let the council cover the legal expenses, clear the rent arrears, and handle future rent payments going forward.
According to LegalforLandlords, the Renters Reform Bill has led many smaller-scale landlords to exit the sector due to concerns about potential changes. This recent action taken by Brent council might give these landlords some pause for thought.
The question arises whether this case is an isolated incident where the council had no other means to prevent homelessness, or if it represents a broader, practical solution that could benefit both private landlords and tenants.
Sim Sekhon, the managing director of LegalforLandlords, points out that it’s essential to consider that the private landlord involved in this situation agreed to the deal. However, it’s possible that they had no viable alternative. Faced with significant financial loss and a lengthy wait for a bailiff, the sudden offer of immediate relief and compensation might not have felt like a genuine choice.
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