Despair at delays

By Mal Butler Jan 29, 2024
Janette Apsley with her legal documents

A landlady has been reduced to tears following a year-long red-tape battle with the IW Council housing department to sell her own home.

Janette Apsley, hotel manager at The Wheatsheaf, Newport, originally told the tenant in her Cowes bungalow last January that she would be selling the property during the year. She said: “My circumstances changed following a serious car accident in December 2022 and taking on this job. I no longer feel comfortable driving at night and wanted to move closer to Newport.

“I gave him plenty of notice. Over the next few months, he showed no sign of moving and I could not find anywhere to rent. I then put the property on the market, and there followed a series of exchanges with the council who knocked me back on the paperwork I submitted. On each occasion they asked me to complete another form.

“First, my Energy Performance Certificate was rejected. When I sent in a new one, I was then asked for a Gas Safety Certificate. This was completed but the housing officer said it wasn’t signed. This continued over several months, with long delays getting replies from the council. In July, I served a section 21 notice (a no-fault eviction notice), but had not ensured all required documentation had been included when serving the notice.

“By November, I had to serve a section 8 notice (served for a tenancy agreement breach, such as non-payment of rent). Finally, after contacting solicitors, he has gone, and I can sell. It has taken approximately a year for a request to have my tenant leave at a cost of nearly £3,500.

“I am just a nice person; this is all new to me and I have been left in tears. The IW Council has dragged it all out and it has affected my health.”

The landlord’s solicitor, from Lawdit, said: “This affected the landlord’s mental health and was extremely costly, because the tenant refused to leave the property for nearly a year. The council seemed to support the tenant, but for reasons which are unclear.

“It is important to ensure that the notice is served correctly, but it seemed the council really dug its heels in on this one. We have noticed there is little consideration or care given to support and guide landlords, but rather a lot of protection and loopholes for tenants to kick the can down the road, to the landlord’s detriment.

“Some landlords are forced to sell their home for personal reasons, but have to battle with a non-compliant tenant and, at times, the council.”

A council spokesman said: “We recognise the important role that private landlords have. However, the council is bound by statutory duties.

“When approached by somebody who is at threat of homelessness, the local authority has a statutory duty to establish they are legally at risk of homelessness. In the example of a tenant that has been served with a section 21 notice, this duty is to establish that the notice has been served correctly.

“The local authority also has a statutory duty to provide advice and information about homelessness, and the rights of homeless people or those at risk of homelessness. It is therefore our legal duty to advise somebody when a Section 21 notice has not been served correctly.

“Whilst we understand some landlords can be frustrated by this process, the local authority is following procedures set out in law.