We spent the day with Tenancy Enforcement Officer Sam-Lloyd Jones to look at some of the challenging issues he comes across.
Knee-high grass, overhanging trees and wild, overgrown plants. The scene that greets Sam wouldn’t look out of place in a David Attenborough documentary, but it’s not the best look for your back garden.
This isn’t the first time Sam has had to visit the property and speak to the tenant about the condition of his garden. By letting his garden get in this state, this tenant is in breach of his tenancy. Sam doesn’t sugar coat things - the tenant faces the real possibility of losing his home if things don’t improve. They both agree a way forward.
Sam agrees to hold off any further action, but gives the tenant a deadline to get things in order.
“We have had cases where the Trust has had to evict people because they have breached their tenancy, but this is always a last resort,” Sam says.
“It’s always best when people agree to work with us to resolve things before it gets to that stage. We can take people to court but this can be a lengthy and expensive process - we have had some cases that have cost the Trust thousands of pounds. The sad thing is that it doesn’t need to get to the stage - we would much prefer it when people choose to engage with us.”
Last year our Tenancy Enforcement Team dealt with nearly 400 cases, covering everything from illegal subletting to unacceptable property conditions.
Sam added: “A big part of our job is listening and building-up trust. In some cases it takes a lot for a customer to come forward with information.
“We do lots of visits - with customers reporting issues and the people responsible. In many cases we encourage our customers to resolve matters between themselves. It’s amazing how many issues can be resolved by just talking to each other.
“As a team, we are big believers in restorative approaches - getting neighbours together face to face in a bid to resolve issues. We also get in touch with other partners such as the local council, police, and social services when we need to take matters further.”
Sam has carried out hundreds of visits during his time as a Tenancy Enforcement Officer, but few cases have got under his skin like this next one. We are in a quiet and picturesque part of Cheshire - a place you wouldn’t normally associate with ASB.
There have been several complaints from surrounding neighbours regarding the behaviour of one tenant - and Sam is here to resolve matters. The tenant in question is confused, scared, upset - her legs are visibly shaking throughout the meeting. Her eyes are tired and heavy with sadness. She hands over a notepad and urges Sam to read it.
The scribbles on each page offer a further insight into this person’s life - an unhappy childhood, years of alcohol abuse and several suicide attempts. Her behaviour begins to make sense. Sam agrees to make a referral to our Support and Wellbeing team so that she can get help. Sam offers reassurance by agreeing to hold off tenancy enforcement action, as long as she engages with us. He promises to speak to the people who have made complaints and encourages her and her family to be honest with their neighbours.
“We are all human beings, and I would be lying if I said cases like this didn’t stick with me,” said Sam.
“We are here to do a job, but it is important that we get both sides of the story before we take any action. There are factors which might be contributing to someone’s behaviour, and we do our best to get to the bottom of it and find a way forward.”
If you have come across anti-social behaviour or something that troubles you, let us know:
Call us: 0300 303 9848