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property adjustment order

davidsmithp1000
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Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project

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I know this is Friday evening, but,

property adjustment order

Client has joint tenancy with local council on 2 bed flat. They have 1 daughter.

He has left and is happily housed elsewhere.

They are in contact and on good terms. They were never married.

He is prepared to put in writing to the council that he is happily housed elsewhere.

This is where it starts to make no sense.

The council advise that to remove him from the joint tenancy for the council flat, they need to seek independent legal advice and go to court with a property adjustment order. Once this is done the council will take him off the tenancy.

Money aside (involving a private law firm),
Why would the council do this?

All the private law firms I speak to say this makes no sense because a property adjustment order is usually used when there is a disagreement over property.
But there is no disagreement here, he wants his name off the tenancy, she wants it just in her name, but the council continue to say -
Seek independent legal advice and get a property adjustment order

Can anyone shed some light on this?

For what it’s worth she’s on UC, with LCW, multiple health problems. But just wants the flat in just her name so she can explore council mutual exchange offers.

I was going round and round in circles today. Law firms saying this makes no sense. The council insisting on it.

Thanks

Elliot Kent
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Shelter

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‘Taking a name off a tenancy’ is not really a thing. The result can be achieved by either (1) the joint tenants assigning their interest to a sole tenant or (2) the joint tenancy being brought to an end by either notice or surrender and a new tenancy being created between the landlord and the sole tenant.

Either of these steps would require the landlord’s consent. Has the landlord explained why they won’t consent? Usually this would be grounded in some sort of concern that consenting to an assignment or granting a new tenancy would undermine their position somehow - most obviously in a rent arrears case where they may be anxious that their ability to enforce the debt against your client would be undermined.

If the reasons for the landlord refusing consent are non-existent or irrational, this could be escalated through management at the housing office or through a complaint.

It is true that there are orders which the court can make for the transfer of a tenancy from joint tenants who were partners to a sole tenant, however these are family law orders. They are supposed to be used to resolve matters between the former partners and not as a way of side-stepping the landlord’s refusal of consent. That’s not to say it would necessarily be impossible to obtain one (you would have to ask a family law solicitor) but it would raise the court’s eyebrows. It shouldn’t really be necessary if there is no reason for the landlord to refuse their consent to the assignment or granting a new tenancy.

[ Edited: 30 Jul 2022 at 10:20 am by Elliot Kent ]
davidsmithp1000
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Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project

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thank you Elliot - I need to get this above call handlers - and so will escalate through complaint or find the right email address ...

Paul Stockton
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Epping Forest CAB

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The requirement for a court order is standard practice in our local authority, and I suspect many others. I’ve never quite understood why but I suspect it is to do with the LA’s housing allocation policy. Changing the tenancy from joint to single on a particular property may not be consistent with the prioritisation set out in the Council’s published policy so to do so would lay them open to complaints, LGO criticism, and judicial review. If there’s a court order they are protected.

The application is made under the Family Law Act 1996. Our LA advises that it can be done by way of a consent order so the costs are minimal. Your local Citizens Advice may be able to help.

Elliot Kent
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That’s rather surprising. Perhaps it is regional variation as I am not aware of similarly restrictive policies with the landlords we deal with.

There are restrictions on the rights of assignment in the Housing Act 1985, however they permit assignment outside of the policy in a case where the assignee would be entitled to succeed, which I think would at least arguably cover these cases. Otherwise, the simpler route is for the tenancy to be brought to an end and a new tenancy granted - most allocations policies would contain some power to grant tenancies directly without advertising them.

What happens in your LA when an absent joint tenant decides to unilaterally end the tenancy by notice?

Paul Stockton
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I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve ever had to deal with that situation.