Often on this blog and elsewhere, if a tenant is experiencing problems with his or her landlord, one ‘answer’ is to speak to the Housing Officer at your Local Authority (LA).
Local Authorities have a statutory duty to assist tenants in the private sector, in particular if the tenant is in danger of being made homeless. Some LAs, particularly in large urban areas, are very good with large advice centres and trained staff. Others are less helpful. However we all know that LAs are short of funds, and with the forthcoming cuts, things are probably going to get worse.
So if your LA housing officer doesn’t want to know about your problems, what can you do about it? Here are a few ideas:
Speak to your local councillor
Wherever you live you will have several local councillors for your ward (the area where you live), whose job includes helping people in their constituency, particularly if they have problems with the LA.
You can often find out who your councillor is from the LA website (see the Landlord Law Local Authority Directory if you don’t know what this is). Otherwise ring up the LA switchboard and ask them. Councillors will usually hold ‘surgeries’ (like MPs do) where you can go and see them, or you can ring them up.
They will know the system and should be able to exert pressure on your behalf.
By the way, do not be put off by the fact that the Councillor is a member of a party you do not support. Their job is to assist everyone, whatever their political affiliation.
Make an official report
There will generally be a special procedure for this, and you may find leaflets about making a complaint in your local town hall. Or ring up the switchboard and ask them to send you one.
The LA will have to deal with the complaint, as this is part of their procedures. So you should at least get a response and explanation, and it may kick start them into doing something.
Complain to the Ombudsman
If your Councillor cannot help and the official complaint gets you nowhere, you can then take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. However you can only do this if you have already make a complaint to the LA direct. Find out more about making a complaint here or ring 0300 061 0614.
How have you got on with making complaints about LAs?
See more help for tenants on Landlord Law.