Does the tenant want re-housing?
In some circumstances tenants will be looking to be re-housed by the Local Authority. Local Authorities have a statutory duty to re-house tenants who comply with the following criteria:
- They are eligible for assistance (basically this means British nationals)
- They are homeless or are threatened with homelessness
- They fall into one of the ‘priority need’ categories (the most important being families with young children)
- They have not made themselves ‘voluntarily homeless’
- They have some sort of local connection with the local authority they apply to (although this does not apply if they do not have any local connections at all)
Generally therefore if you have a female tenant who is pregnant or tenants with young children, it is very likely that they will be looking to be re-housed. However if this is the case they will be advised (ie by the Council or any legal adviser they consult) to stay in the property no matter what.
As if they move out (for example to stay with a relative) they will be deemed ‘voluntarily homeless’ and will lose their right to be re-housed. Many landlords do not understand this and get very upset when tenants fail to move out after being served notice.
If you have a tenant who wishes to be re-housed, the only thing to do is to move to bringing proceedings for possession as quickly as possible.
Bear in mind that many Local Authorities are short of available housing, and will sometimes not re-house a family until the bailiff is at the door. However it is important that you get the procedure right, as if the claim is defendable, the local authority may deem them to be ‘voluntarily homeless’ if they do not defend it.
If at all possible it is best to evict a tenant in this position using the section 21 notice procedure.