Sutton Council accused of advising tenants to wait for the bailiffs
Allegations the council has been advising private rental tenants to wait until the bailiffs kick them out before they are given emergency housing have prompted an internal investigation.
Sutton landlords said they have been left out of pocket after tenants they planned to evict refused to leave until bailiffs arrive, on the advice of Sutton Council.
The council said it was not its policy to tell people to stay in accommodation after their eviction dates and that it merely pointed out tenants legal rights, but said it would scrutinise the way it communicates with private rental tenants who turn to the council for emergency housing.
An email exchange between a council housing officer and a tenant faced with eviction, seen by the Sutton Guardian, showed the council explaining tenants do not have to leave their properties until a court orders them to.
Iliana Tchilingirian, personal adviser in homelessness prevention and housing advice for the council, wrote: “If you are still there after the possession order date has passed, your landlady would have to go back to court. She would then ask the judge to enforce the order.
“The judge then issues a bailiff’s notice stating both the date and time they will hand back possession to your landlady.
“That is the final date by which you must legally leave.”
Landlord George Major, of Bourne Way, who is one of the longest standing Pearly Kings, sold one of his two houses, but the sale has been thrown into jeopardy by the tenant in the house refusing to move out until the bailiffs come.
Mr Major said: “I’m 75 and my wife’s not far behind. We just want to get back into our house, but the tenant won’t move until we pay to have the bailiffs round.
“Now we’re the ones facing homelessness.”
Councillor Jayne McCoy said: “I have arranged for this matter to be formally scrutinised.
“We do not have a blanket policy to advise tenants to ‘hang on’ in properties, but we do advise them of their rights and the options they have.”
Councillor Tony Shields called for the council to look into the way it advises tenants at a meeting earlier this month.