3. Contacting the police
4. Course content
Bad tenants, assured shortholds
Protection from Eviction Act
The police role
What’s in it for the landlord?
Reinforcing the message
5. Continuing communication
A) West Yorkshire training summary
B) Brighton & Hove’s problem sheet
C) Copy police information handout
D) Greenwich’s police referral form
Many ATRO members have been involved in training local police officers over the past years, but the approach has generally been individual, not all authorities are sufficiently resourced to do this, and not all police forces are equally welcoming.
Brighton & Hove Council recently ran training sessions for officers at Hove Police Station which were very well received, and Roof expressed an interest in an article on police training nationally, so I canvassed ATRO members to see what others did.
The responses fell into two categories – helpful information and highlighting of problems from those authorities which are actively training local police, and requests for help from those who feel they ought to be involved, but are not currently doing police training. Only West Yorkshire provided me with full course notes and outline, but theirs is rather special in that they actually give training at the local police college. Therefore the following guidance notes mainly follow the Brighton and Hove training course, but I will be trying to improve on it by incorporating the information from other active authorities!
The purpose of police training is to ensure a correct response by officers attending incidents of harassment/unlawful eviction. Many authorities have anecdotal evidence of police officers called to unlawful evictions saying “it’s a civil matter” and referring the parties to the local CAB. Worse are the stories of police officers actually assisting in unlawful evictions. Effective training really does improve the appropriateness of the police response, and increases referrals to TROs.
We do not want police officers to take over the TRO rôle – we want them to use their own powers and skills effectively, and record details and refer to us so we can take the appropriate action. We want them to help us to help them by clarifying their rôle and then referring cases to us for investigation and possible prosecution. But remember that you are probably going to be dealing with experienced officers who know more about investigation, statement taking, PACE etc. than you ever will!
3 Contacting the police
You may already have contacts with the police through Community Safety officers, or through officers you have already dealt with on cases. Your local station will probably have a training section, and they are the best people to contact. If they are unaware of the law on harassment and unlawful eviction, you will first have to sell the idea to them. However, once you have done this, you should find them very helpful. In Brighton and Hove, for example, the training officers helped us design the course and actually produced our presentation on Powerpoint for us. In West Yorkshire, they take responsibility for producing the training packs and a Tenancy Relations Work book. In many areas, you might be able to be slotted in to regular training days, possibly being given an hour or an hour and a half to get your message across.
Remember that the police force is a completely different culture from local government. There are sometimes officers present who are rather prejudiced against local government officers, and they can be down right disruptive. Try and arrange for the training officer to stay in the room while you are conducting the session.
4 Course content
Clearly state your aims and objectives for the session. In most cases, these will have been discussed with the training officer when you have been developing your training package. In broad terms, you want to provide them with sufficient knowledge of the law relating to landlord and tenant disputes to ensure that they respond correctly when called upon. You are also trying to simplify things and assist them – they can pass the hard work in these cases over to the Council!
Introduce yourself, and how you fit into the Council hierarchy. Emphasise the Council’s powers of enforcement in the private sector housing context, as well as the landlord rôle. Highlight the Environmental Health enforcement duties, as well as your own. Talk about the size of the private rented and leasehold sectors in your area, and if any parts of town are particularly problematic, draw attention to them. If you have any notorious landlords, talk about them as well (Brighton and Hove are, of course, able to refer to Nicholas Hoogstraten …..).
Mention the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which mainly describes the civil process that a landlord must go through to lawfully evict a tenant – and creates the criminal offences if the civil procedures are not followed.
Explain that your rôle relates to people’s homes, and that the rights of residential occupiers arise from the fact that, to use that rather hackneyed phrase, an Englishman’s home is his castle. As long as the person entered into possession of their home lawfully, the person whose home it is has rights which exceed those of anyone else, even if they own the bricks and mortar. Most residential occupiers can only be forced to leave their homes by county court bailiffs enforcing a county court possession order. Refer again and again to the fact that the law is based on whose home it is – only if someone is a lodger, sharing part of the landlord’s home is there any exception – and that exception is consistent with the basic principle.
Residential occupiers have the right to exclude the owner unless it is also the owner’s home. Define a residential occupier clearly – you are not looking at family situations where Mum loses her tether with awkward teenagers, and you are not looking at people who entered accommodation unlawfully – they are squatters. Discuss the generralities of residential tenancies and licences. Highlight the fact that people who make their homes in what are often called bed and breakfast places, or DSS hostels, will frequently have full rights.
Discuss the distress that can arise when someone’s home is invaded. Use examples from your own knowledge, and also ask them to describe the reactions they have seen if they have had to deal with a serious landlord/tenant dispute.
Explain that contracts do not need to be in writing. There may be a written agreement, there may be a rent book. There may be a written agreement which has expired. However, a tenancy can only be ended against a tenant’s will by following the correct civil procedure and obtaining a possession order.
Talk about the factors which make up a tenancy – there has to be a landlord, and a tenant. There has to be premises, of which the tenant has exclusive possession (in other words, a whole room, or a whole flat or a whole house). Tenants can be single individuals, or joint tenants; a married couple or friends sharing. A rent has to have been agreed, at a figure for a specific period – usually a week or a month, although sometimes quarterly. If these four factors exist, the tenant has the right to use their home as their own. They can have guests, they can raise a family, they can have a partner living with them.
When called to a dispute therefore, officers should note evidence of residential occupation – toiletries in the bathroom, clothes iin a wardrobe, food in a fridge – and not worry if there is no documentary evidence of the occupier’s status.
When called to a landlord/tenant dispute, the landlord may give a number of excuses for his (possibly unlawful) behaviour. S/he may assert that there are rent arrears; or that the tenant has moved in a friend against the provisions of the agreement; or that the tenant is causing nuisance or annoyance to adjoining occupiers; or that they have a pet and the agreement forbids this. Any of these things may amount to breach of contract, but the remedy is to take action in the civil courts.
Bad tenants, assured shortholds
These days, landlords can quite easily get rid of most tenants lawfully. Most tenancies are “shorthold”, which allows a landlord to get possession of a property by serving two months’ notice. No reason is necessary, and if the tenant does not leave, there is a quick procedure for getting a court order. Anyone advising tenants who have received notice will tell them that they should start urgently looking for somewhere else to live. If the tenant insists on remaining until there is a court order, they will be warned that court costs will be charged to them.
If a landlord wants to get rid of a bad tenant, there is provision for serving two weeks’ notice, but in these cases the landlord has to prove to the civil court that it is reasonable to grant possession because of the behaviour of the tenant. Few landlords use the bad tenant grounds for possession because of the greater expense involved in the court process.
Protection from Eviction Act 1977
Reinforce the fact that the PfEA sets out the correct civil procedure for forcing a residential occupier to leave. The criminal offences arise when the civil procedures are ignored.
Discuss the offences of harassment and eviction, stressing the fact that they are criminal offences, and that the Council has the power to prosecute.
Discuss the elements of unlawful eviction – if any person unlawfully deprives … or attempts to unlawfully deprive … the residential occupier … of all or part of their accommodation. Highlight black-bagging, and lock changes, but also point out that a landlord moving someone else in or threatening to do so him/herself is committing this offence. Remind them that a displaced residential occupier can use reasonable force to re-enter, but before advising this, the officers concerned should assure themselves that the person is able to secure the accommodation and will be safe from harm. The landlord’s only defence is that s/he had reasonable cause to believe that the occupier had left.
Explain that harassment is much harder to define, and give a few examples – things like cutting off gas or electricity, too frequent visits or telephone calls. There have been occasions when landlords have removed a staircase completely, thereby making it impossible for the tenant to gain access to their accommodation. Failure to act on repairs, for example, is not harassment – but doing repairs in a manner which seriously interferes with a residential occupier’s “peace or comfort” could be.
Sometimes tenants allege harassment when, for example, a landlord threatens legal action if outstanding rent is not paid. As long as the threat is delivered in a civilised manner, this would not amount to harassment. In order for acts to constitute harassment, we need evidence to show that they are intended to cause the residential occupier to leave their accommodation, or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy. In the old days of registered rents, harassment was frequently directed at persuading a tenant not to apply to the Rent Officer for a registered rent. These days, it is more likely to be aimed at dissuading a tenant from reporting disrepair to the council.
The police rôle
As already stated, the aim of the training is to ensure as far as possible that officers called to a landlord/tenant dispute respond appropriately. They may only rarely be called to such disputes, so they need as much help as possible to remember what it is that they should do.
It would be nice if someone could come up with an appropriate acronym using home, or house – but the best I have been able to manaage is “PAIR”. This breaks down as follows:
PREVENT a breach of the peace. Officers are advised to remain calm, separate the parties, get their version of events, and leave all parties feeling that they have been dealt with properly.
ARREST if there is a breach of s.6 or s.7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Some officers get quite excited when they discover that they have the power of arrest. A number of authorities have had very successful joint prosecutions using both Criminal Law Act and PfEA offences, although in other areas the Crown Prosecution Service have been reluctant to co-operate in this way. Officers need to be told that using violence to secure entry to premises against the wishes of an occupier is an offence under s.6; and under s.7, any person who is on premises as a trespasser after entering as such is guilty of an offence if s/he fails to leave on being required to do so by or on behalf of a displaced residential occupier. Try and come up with real life examples. I’ve had one case where the landlord using a ladder entered a property through a first floor window.
INVESTIGATE and persuade both parties to put things back as they were. Clearly the names and addresses of the parties are required. Officers should also get details of the occupancy, whether there is anything in writing, how much the rent is and how often it is paid, the nature of the accommodation and the cause of any dispute. Officers should be reminded that in many cases, Housing Advisors or Tenancy Relations Officers may be able to assist in resolving a dispute, for example by liaising with Housing Benefit on the tenant’s behalf. Also remind again that these are criminal offences, and although you represent the prosecuting authority if they are going to be any use as witnesses in a prosecution case, they must remember PACE and caution the alleged perpetrator.
REFER both parties to the council’s Tenancy Relations Service (or their solicitor). In view of the potential seriousness of the penalties should a landlord go ahead with an unlawful eviction, it is eminently reasonable (if you are certain that the residential occupier will be safe) to refer BOTH parties for advice before taking any action. If the incident occurs during office hours, Tenancy Relations Officers can be called to attend by the officer dealing with the situation.
What’s in it for the landlord?
If they are found guilty of harassment or unlawful eviction, fines are on scale 5 and they also run the risk of up to six months’ imprisonment. Additionally, the tenant may wish to take action for damages in the civil courts and these can run into five figures. By asking the landlord to wait and get proper advice, even if they are entitled to possession (for example because they are also resident) they are unlikely to be delayed by more than a two or three days. So it could save the landlord a great deal of money. Also, landlord/tenant disputes rarely arise in a vacuum. By referring a landlord for advice, police officers could be setting them on the way to actually getting the basic problem resolved – so if the problem is rent arrears due to Housing Benefit problems, the landlord could end up with cash in hand.
Officers also need to be reminded to record the information they collect, and report the incident to the Tenancy Relations Officer for further investigation and possible prosecution. The importance of recording information needs to be stressed, as insufficient recording has led to prosecutions failing. And even if they do manage to calm things down, the root cause of the dispute may still exist and the TRO could help sort out any particular problem.
Reinforcing the message
Round off your chat with a summary – stress again that you are concerned with problems affecting people’s homes – and it is whose home it is that counts, not who owns it. Stress “PAIR”, or whatever improved acronym you come up with. And to reinforce the message, consider using a few example problems or a rôle play. In Brighton and Hove, we have a sheet of problems, and split the officers into small groups, giving each of them a problem to consider. They do this for about 10 minutes, and then we go through the problems one by one, discussing their recommendations.
West Yorkshire do a rôle play – where officers are assigned the rôle of landlord, tenant, or police officer, and given a scenario. Again when the rôle play is finished, there is discussion over whether the parties to the dispute feel satisfied with the way the problem has been settled.
Finally prepare a handout giving information about how to contact the Tenancy Relations Officer, and a brief summary of the appropriate course of action when officers are called to a landlord/tenant dispute. A number of authorities use plasticised cards which are small enough to fit into an officer’s notebook.
Course evaluation forms are a good idea. You may find that the police have one for their own purposes which they are willing to share. Good feedback can justify the amount of time and effort spent on police training – and if your patch covers more than onne station, good feedback from one could be used in trying to persuade the other to let you train their officers as well.
Your other evidence of the effectiveness of the training will be improved referrals, and more appropriate response by police officers.
5 Continuing communication
As part of the training, you might also be able to develop proper referral systems, perhaps with a simple form to complete and fax to the TRO to try and ensure that all cases are passed on to you.
Appendix A – West Yorkshire training summary
Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale work together to deliver TRO training for West Yorkshire Police at the Force Training School on the Probationer Development Programme.
Aims and Objectives
From the tenancy relations officers’ perspective
To raise awareness of Tenancy Relations issues within the Police service, both by direct input and by the “cascade” of information from trained officers.
To encourage and build upon the existing multi-agency approach to Tenancy Relations issues within West Yorkshire
To ensure Police Officers are aware of current legislation in this area.
To provide information and practical support which will enable Police Officers to deal effectively with incidents of harassment and unlawful eviction.
To work in partnership with the Probationer Development Programme to achieve an integrated joint approach and a long term commitment to training on Tenancy Relations issues.
To achieve a consistent standard of training delivery by Tenancy Relations Officers, supported by Police Trainers.
From the Probationer Development Programme perspective
The aim of the Tenancy Relations input is to enable the student to recognise tenancy relations disputes and the possible offences connected to them and to apply knowledge of the relevant legislation appropriately to the efficient and effective conclusion of such disputes.
At the end of the Tenancy Relations input, the students will be able to:
Define a “residential occupier” as stated in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977
Give examples of “residential occupiers”
Distinguish between “residential occupiers” and “squatters”
Define a “landlord”
Give examples of “landlords”
Identify “landlords” and “residential occupiers” in written scenarios
State the definition of “unlawful eviction” as given by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977
Give examples of “unlawful eviction”
Outline the procedures a landlord must follow to lawfully evict a residential occupier
Explain the one exception to the obtaining of a Court Order by a landlord
Apply their knowledge of unlawful eviction to written scenarios
State the five key elements of “harassment” as defined in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977
Give examples of “harassment”
Apply their knowledge of “harassment” to written scenarios
Identify powers of arrest appropriate for use in landlord/tenant disputes
Recognise and suggest possible courses of action to be taken by Police Officers in a written case study exercise based on a landlord/tenant dispute
Identify and distinguish between the motivating factors underpinning the behaviour of a landlord, a residential occupier and a Police Officer involved in a written case exercise based on a landlord/tenant dispute
Distinguish between different courses of action available to the Police Officer in the scenario
Analyse the potential effectiveness of each of those courses of action
Summarise their significant learning points from the Tenancy Relations input and explain how these will influence their future actions at the scene of landlord/tenant disputes
Evaluate the effectiveness of the Tenancy Relations input in the form of written feedback.
Schedule for day
The day starts with the police training officer distributing a work book containing information on the law relating to landlord and tenant. After an introduction and highlighting of the key points, there are sections on Residential Occupiers, Unlawful Eviction, Harassment and Powers of Arrest, each ending with a series of topic related questions and their answers. Officers are given an hour and a half to work through the book on their own. Then there is an hour and a half session where they are introduced to the TROs, who talk briefly about their work followed by questions to the officers on what they have learned from the work books. After lunch, they do rôle plays on the scenario given them in their work book.
Rôle Play Scenario
The officers are divided into groups of four, and are assigned roles of tenant, landlord and two police officers. The officers are asked to read the case and answer each stage before moving on to the next one. They are not given the answers, which are shown here after the questions.
The Case Study – 15 Ridgefield Street, Sandford
This study begins with Lesley Smith phoning Sandford Police Station from a call box at the end of the street. It is 2.00 p.m. on a Tuesday. Lesley says that her landlord Mr. Jones has turned up at no. 15 and let himself in using his keys. He has apparently told her to leave immediately and she says he has been shouting and swearing at her.
Two police officers respond to the call. When they arrive at 15 Ridgefield Street they find Lesley Smith and Mr. Jones arguing in the street outside the house. Mr. Smith is carrying an armful of clothes. The officers see a TV, some videos and some bags on the path outside the front of the house.
Q1 What would your aims be in relation to this incident?
A1 To prevent a breach of the peace or other criminal offence
Q2 What information would you gather?
A2 – names and addresses of both parties
– details of Lesley Smith’s occupancy – written agreement or rent book (if anny)
– how much is the rent?
– what accommodation does she have?
> – what is Mr. Jones’ side of the story??
– what steps has Mr. Jones taken to gett Lesley Smith out?
Q3 Why would you gather this information?
A3 It is standard practice to establish whether Mr. Jones is a resident or other landlord (because his options change) and to establish whether Lesley Smith is a residential occupier and hence covered by the Protection from Eviction Act. The police and other agencies need this information.
Q4 What initial action would you take?
A4 – separate the parties
– calm the situation down
– stop the landlord from removing any mmore possessions
– one officer to talk to the landlord, the other to the tenant
– contact the TRO to see if an officer is available for an immediate response
Q5 What skills would you use?
A5 Information gathering, persuading the parties to put things back as they were, negotiation skills, listening skills, investigating, referring and recording.
What Lesley Smith tells the officer
Lesley Smith says that she rents 15 Ridgefield Street, a three bedroomed house, from Mr. Jones. She moved in two months ago with her two sons, Lee (17) and Gary (16).
When she moved in she paid a £100 deposit. She has not got a rent book or anything in writing apart from the receipt. She says she should be paying £75 per week in rent, and has applied for Housing Benefit who have told her she will (eventually) get about £60 per week. She has managed to pay a further £100 towards her rent, but can’t pay any more until the Housing Benefit money comes through.
She had a solicitor’s letter giving her a month’s notice which expired today, but the CAB said she was entitled to two months’ notice.
Lee and Gary are out. She is on her own at the moment.
What Mr. Jones tells the officer
He lives in the next town. He wouldn’t live here if you paid him.
Lesley Smith has serious rent arrears.
His solicitor wrote to her a month ago, telling her to leave by today.
He has had complaints from the neighbours that she’s had a man staying in the house several times.
Lesley keeps nagging him to give her information in writing to take to the council but he’s damn’d if he’ll give her anything until the rent is up to date.
He wants her out today. He owns the property, and she’s had notice. He wants you to help him get her out.
Q6 What advice would you give to both parties?
A6 To Lesley Smith
She is a residential occupier and entitled to stay where she is.
It is a criminal offence to harass her or to evict her without a court order.
She should approach her local Tenancy Relations Officer for further advice and for help sorting out her Housing Benefit.
Advice to Mr. Jones
Lesley Smith is a residential occupier.
It is a criminal offence to evict her without a court order enforced by a county court bailiff, or to harass her or her family
He should contact the Tenancy Relations Officer urgently for advice on his legal remedies
He should leave her alone and put her things back in the house before the officers leave the scene.
Caution him! Tell him the facts of the matter will be reported to the local authority Tenancy Relations Officer.
RECORD the information you have been given, make a note of the advice you have given the parties, note the date, time and place that you cautioned Mr. Jones in your pocket book.
Q7 Is there anything else you can do?
A7 Separate the parties.
Warn Mr. Jones that his behaviour is likely to cause a breach of the peace.
Warn Lesley Smith the same.
Make sure Mr. Jones puts the things back in the house.
Remain at the scene long enough to ensure that Mr. Jones leaves.
If needed, repeat the advice given at Q3 and Q4 above.
Q9 Would you consider arresting either party? If so on what grounds?
A9 Breach of the peace – either party. There Is no Criminal Law Act power because Mr. Jones did not use force to enter, and although he did enter as a trespasser he has not remained on the premises against the wishes of a displaced residential occupier. At this stage, however, arrest could be counter-productive. If Lesley Smith were arrested, this could give Mr. Jones the opportunity to clear the house and possibly change the locks or move someone else in. Arresting Mr. Jones might be a short term solution, but could result in retaliatory action at a later date. So the best course of action is to warn both parties, and inform Mr. Jones, and urge him again to take legal advice.
Q10 What do you think the Tenancy Relations Officer might be able to add to
what you have done?
A10 Investigate the matter further, taking statements from the officers and Lesley Smith. Consider with her what further steps should be taken, including assistance with Housing Benefit claim. Provide Mr. Jones with written information about the law, including Lesley Smith’s entitlement to written information. Check files to see if Mr. Jones has had previous dealings with the Tenancy Relations Officer. Correspond with Mr. Jones’ solicitor, offering interview under caution. Consider criminal prosecution preparing case for referral to council legal section. Give formal written caution to Mr. Jones, depending on information disclosed during investigation, public interest, views of victim, etc.
Appendix B – Brighton & Hove’s problem sheet
suggested answers are given in italics after each problem
The property is a large seaside establishment, most of the residents are single men, not women, not young people. The police are called to the property regularly, mainly to stop fighting and general disputes, frequently alcohol or drugs related. Friday night there is a fight between two residents and one man, Jimmy Jones, is taken to the police station but later released.
The following morning the manager of the property calls asking for police assistance to remove Jimmy from the establishment. Jimmy is in bed asleep. What do you do?
Refuse and refer. Lawful eviction requires civil procedures to be followed. If Jimmy is asleep, he’s not causing any offence, and you would have no justification for removing him.
NB. If there are no cooking facilities, the property may not be a dwelling, so PfEA might not apply – but this is getting into a complex area of the law, and police officers are advised to restrict themselves to the refusal and referral
Your receive a call from a tenant, Ms A, who tells you that her landlord Mr. B is outside her flat with three builders and is trying to break in. When you arrive you find that the landlord is in the flat and there is a builder fitting a new lock to the flat door. The landlord tells you that the tenant does not have a right to be in the flat as she is behind with her rent and he wants you to help him to get her out. He shows you a notice that he gave her two weeks ago which tells her to clear the arrears or he will evict her.
The landlord then shows you a copy of the tenancy agreement which states:
“Provided that the rent or any part thereof shall be in arrears for at least FOURTEEN days after the same shall have become due, or if there shall be a breach of the agreement by the Tenant the Landlord may re-enter the Property and immediately thereupon the tenancy shall absolutely determine without prejudice to the other rights and remedies of the Landlord”.
The landlord tells you that he has a right to evict the tenant as the rent is more than two weeks’ late and this means that the tenancy has been “forfeited”. The tenant is extremely upset and frightened. She does not want to leave. What should you do?
Refer both parties for further advice, preferably to the Council’s Tenancy Relations Service.
The forfeiture clause is necessary in an agreement so that legal action can be taken. It does not replace the need for such action. Urge the tenant to take advice to see if she can get help with the rent – and ask the landlord to have a little patience to see if she can get the money together.
If the landlord refuses to co-operate, advise that he appears to be committing a criminal offence and caution. An officer in uniform can arrest under s.6 Criminal Law Act 1977 if the landlord and his builder refuse to leave. If you do have to arrest, advise the Tenancy Relations Service.
Tom Smith is given a new Housing Association flat but decides to move out and live with his girlfriend. He doesn’t want to give up the flat in case his relationship doesn’t work out, so he lets Dina and her baby move in and charges her rent.
Eventually the Housing Association finds out and tells Tom to get things sorted out or he’ll lose the flat.
Tom and his brother get into the flat while Dina is out. When she returns home they refuse to let her back in. He tells her that it is against the law for a mother and baby to live in that type of accommodation.
Dina calls the police and you are asked to attend the incident.
What do you do?
Advise Tom and his brother that they are committing a criminal offence by refusing to let Dina back in. If they refuse to admit her [and leave her alone!] you can force entry and arrest. It may be that the accommodation is not suitable for young children, but lawful eviction requires civil action, not brute force. Contact the Tenancy Relations Service if you do arrest, otherwise refer both parties.
Jim White is in distress. He has a room in his landlord’s house and has been there approximately four weeks. Earlier today the landlord knocked on his door and asked him for the rent. Jim told the landlord that he was waiting for his housing benefit to come through. The landlord became very angry and smashed a cup (belonging to the landlord). He told Jim that he wanted the money straight away. He then said that he would get rid of Jim because he had been nothing but trouble. The landlord had then gone out saying that he expected Jim to be gone when he returned or he would be thrown out on the street.
Jim telephones you to say that the landlord has just come home and has started threatening him.
A resident landlord needs to give reasonable notice that he wants a tenant to go. If you feel that Jim would be safe if he remained, you might be able to persuade the landlord to let him stay while the money is sorted out, and refer both parties. It would be a criminal offence if the landlord refused to let Jim stay, and you should caution, record and refer to Tenancy Relations.
Appendix C – Copy police information handout
(Brighton and Hove Council)
Refer Landlord and Tenant disputes to
TENANCY RELATIONS tel. 293157
What is your rôle?
To PREVENT a breach of the peace
Remain calm. Be as helpful as you can. Use your skills to keep tempers down and leave all parties feeling that they have been properly dealt with.
To ARREST if there is a breach of s.6 or s.7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977
Anyone using violence to secure entry to premises against the wishes of an occupier can be arrested by an officer in uniform under s.6. Under s.7, any person who is on premises as a trespasser after entering as such is guilty of an offence if s/he fails to leave those premises on being required to do so by or on behalf of a displaced residential occupier, and again can be arrested by an officer in uniform.
To INVESTIGATE and persuade both parties to put things back as they were
Get what information you can, and try and find out the cause of the dispute. Make a record of this, and the names and contact numbers/addresses of the parties and any witnesses. Don’t forget to caution if you suspect a criminal offence has been committed.
To REFER both parties to the council’s Tenancy Relations service (or their solicitor) AND report in detail
If you are certain that the residential occupier will be safe, refer BOTH parties for advice. By asking the landlord to wait and get proper advice, you are unlikely to delay things by more than two or three days. And you could be saving the landlord a lot of money. Additionally, if the tenant is properly advised, it may be possible to resolve the problem which is at the root of the dispute. Obviously if you have not succeeded in calming things, your information will be essential for any criminal prosecution the council might want to bring.
The out of hours number for emergency housing assistance is tel. 680065
REMEMBER – IN ALL CASES, REFER TO THE COUNCIL’S TENANCY RELATIONS OFFICERS
We want to know. We advise landlords as well as tenants and will try to mediate where possible.
We have the power to prosecute and can/will pursue action if appropriate.
We have a Duty Officer system during normal office hours. No appointment is needed (refer to green leaflet)
REFER to TENANCY RELATIONS OFFICER on (01273) 293157, or ring the main council switchboard on 290000 and ask for the TENANCY RELATIONS OFFICER.
Sometimes the problem you will be asked to deal with may be a neighbour dispute relating to noise or other nuisance. If this is the type of complaint, you should refer the complainants to ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES on 292400.
Appendix D – Greenwich’s police referral form
REFERRAL FORM – LANDLORD AND TENANT DISPUTES
Greenwich Council employs Tenancy Relations Officers, their function is to investigate cases of illegal eviction and harassment in private rented housing. The TRO service is available between 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Outside these hours, an answerphone is available, call 020 8312 7871 direct.
Please complete this form and return to fax number (020 8312 7865)
Housing Aid Centre
125 Powis Street
For each incident please supply the following details:
Address of property:
Name/phone no. of occupiers:
Did incident result in occupier leaving?
Forwarding address/phone no. for occupier (if left):
Date and time of incident:
Landlord’s name, address and phone no:
Police Officers attending (names and nos. and station):
Were occupiers told to contact Housing Aid Centre?
Crime reference No:
Details of incident (include weather conditions, action taken by officers, if any charges resulting) continue overleaf if necessary: