Justice For Tenants is proud to announce we have secured over £450,000 in funding from the health charity Impact on Urban Health to support local authorities in effectively using Civil Financial Penalties.
All our services are designed around an understanding of the lived realities of local authority PRS enforcement. The services are supportive and additive and do not place any resource burden on the local authority. Instead, they support officers, generate resources, and save officer time – the resource in the shortest supply.
Paid-for support services for Local Authorities
Paid-for services are provided on a call-off basis – which means the local authority procures the ability to use up to a certain amount of services. However, you have no obligation to use or pay for any services; they are used entirely at your discretion when you demand them.
As a result of the funding we have received, every local authority will receive £5,000 of services for free. To be clear, you can receive free training, enter a call-off contract, use £5,000 of services, and not pay anything.
The following are paid-for services:
- Consultation and re-drafting of Financial Penalty policies
- Creating templates and workflows to ensure effective and efficient use of Financial Penalties including the minimisation of appeals.
- Follow-up longitudinal training on Financial Penalty best practices and processes (counts towards CPD)
- Review of internal process documents to ensure success if a Financial Penalty Final Notice is appealed to the Residential Property (First-tier) Tribunal
- A support centre so that any staff member can feel supported and get advice on how to progress a specific case
- Review or drafting of Notices of Intent and Final Notices
- Submission of evidence bundle and statement of case in the property Tribunal
- Representation in the property Tribunal – submission of skeleton argument and advocacy in the hearing
Free support services for Local Authorities
The following services are free to local authorities:
- 3-hour ‘Introduction to Financial Penalty’ training course delivered at your office, remotely or hybrid. This is tailored around any processes or policies you already have in place or are introducing
- Referrals and signposting for tenants entitled to Rent Repayment Orders
- Recovery of housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit via Rent Repayment Orders (recovered funds are ringfenced for your PRS enforcement work)
- Information sharing – every month, a list of properties where we are bringing Rent Repayment Orders is sent, and an officer can request our 300-page Evidence bundle proving the breach via tenancy agreements, proof of rent payments etc
- Uncovering unlicensed properties – this can be via the provision of data on properties with BTL mortgages or writing letters to suspected unlicensed properties to encourage tenants to get in touch with JFT, gathering intelligence and ringing properties into the licensing scheme without the need to inspect
- Regular updates on changes to Financial Penalty case law and how that affects your Financial Penalty processes
- Drafting of press releases on behalf of Local Authorities following successful Tribunal decisions
Financial Penalties Toolkit for local authorities
Throughout 2022, JFT carried out over 200 hours of interviews and reviewed Financial Penalty processes and templates and worked examples from many of the local authorities who carry out the most Financial Penalties each year.
The purpose was to identify the hurdles that prevent the efficient and effective use of Civil Financial Penalties as a crucial part of an enforcement strategy and then address these issues. Furthermore, most local authorities that carry out hundreds of Financial Penalties each year have undergone similar iterative improvements to their policies, processes and templates; it is helpful to shortcut these growing pains when building a robust Financial Penalty process. The result of this work was the Financial Penalty Toolkit for local authorities. The toolkit contains everything a local authority practitioner would need to understand the Civil Financial Penalty process. Its contents include worked examples, an easily searchable compilation of every relevant case precedent with the important paragraph extracted, a template Financial Penalty policy to support the use of Financial Penalties, guidance notes on the more nuanced aspects of the Financial Penalty process and more.
The Financial Penalty Toolkit was peer-reviewed by team leads at the local authorities with the most experience carrying out Financial Penalties and academics who teach Environmental Health Officer(EHO) degree-level qualifications. In addition, the contributors attended three conferences, with revisions incorporated into the Financial Penalty Toolkit each time.
Please contact Al Mcclenahan for a copy of the Financial Penalty Toolkit.
Please get in touch with Al Mcclenahan to discuss how JFT can help you and your team.
Justice For Tenants is a non-profit organisation with the appropriate insurances and policies for working with local authority colleagues.