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Freedom of Information Act?


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My landlords (a housing agency that has taken over from the local authority) want to do a tenancy audit to ensure that I am the tenant and not sub-letting. They refuse to let me send them ID documents or take them round in person and want to interview me in my home, which I'm, not too happy about. They have not said they want to inspect the condition of the property, which they are entitled to do under the tenancy agreement, but they do demand access to interview me inside the flat. This seems to imply they want to snoop about and check whether I actually live there, like, what? Looking through my laundry? They say they can evict me if they cannot gain access.

 

Am I entitled to ask for a copy of their audit checklist in advance of any interview? Does the Freedom of Information Act cover this? If not, is there any law I can use to get a copy before I let them in so I can see what boxes they want to tick?

 

 

Cheers

 

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Sorry, I dont think the act would cover that... but i will stand corrected!

 

However, have you asked them on what basis they are conducting this on? As far as Im concerned, if my landlord did this to me, I would say this was a breech of my rights to have quiet enjoyment of the property.

 

I would say this is a breech of the tenancy agreement on their half. And that they should provide you proof that you are indeed subletting. If they do not have this proof, then they should leave you to quiet enjoyment of the property. I think this may come under the freedom of information act, request all details they hold on you, then you may know why they are conducting this enquiry.

 

Relooking at your post - is this a housing association? I dont know if a different set of rules apply to this, but I would say you have no less rights than someone in a privately rented setting.

 

I do however remember reading in a local paper, that the housing estate (ex council taken over by social landlord) I have recently moved away from was subjected to police going around checking who was in the properties, and making sure they were the right people in the properties. I also remember thinking, surely this must be incorrect, as no one would have a right to do this to people, and what about those like me, who were out all day, would the police batter down the door? It seemed like Big Brother to me, and I would have had a LOT to say about the matter. As it is, im just grateful im out of there now.

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Well, they say my address was randomly selected for a tenancy audit and that they are allowed access at all reasonable times "for other management purposes", as well as in emergencies and to inspect for damage. I'm inclined to tell them to off it and prove in court that I am not the tenant, but if they can evict me for not letting them in, they won't have to prove that I'm not the tenant. I just don't think this is reasonable, although it seems it happens on other estates.

 

I have to prove who I am, my date of birth and provide recent bills, statements etc to show I am living there and that I am not someone else who is subletting from... er... me. And some git with a clipboard will be asking me questions and trying to ascertain if the place is occupied by me.

 

Yes, it's a type of housing association that is managing the estate for the council and paying for some re-building, refurbishing and new builds. In order to make a profit, of course. I've been there over 17 years, my rent is always paid monthly in advance and I've never heard of this before.

 

 

Cheers

 

 

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I think you are being misled about material issues. A tenancy audit does not require entry to your property unless the audit includes other matters. If they want to confirm the ID it can be done at the door.

 

They cant evict for not letting them in. Even if entry was permitted in the agreement their remedy would be a court order/ injunction and not necessarily eviction.

 

The only way they could try to evict is if they claim that the tenancy was induced by misrepresentation or fraud. Having said that, your refusal to allow entry is not evidence of that. If they want to allege such grounds...its up to them to prove the case....if all they have is a refusal to allow entry...it would be a very weak case.....

 

They dont need to enter the property to make sure there is no subletting either...this maybe one case where there could be a HR issue...

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As to your question about the Freedom of Information Act, the Act allows access to Government or Official information which is defined particularly in the Act - it most certainly does NOT apply to personal, corporate or commercial information. It would not therefore cover any request for information from your Landlord (whether a person or an organisation), unless they are actually a Housing Association which form part of the local authority.

 

Rather than quoting the Act at them, why not just write and ask them nicely first? It may be they'll be quite happy to send a copy of their audit checklist - and any threat of eviction is simply whistling in the wind; they can only evict you for matters of gross misconduct on your part regarding your tenancy, and denying them access is not that. They might be the rightful owners of the property, but a Tenancy Agreement makes it YOUR HOME, and they must submit to any reasonable conditions you have for entering it on official business.

 

If they wish to interview you, suggest to them that they do so in their offices, and explain that you'd like to have a formal representative with you. If they wish to inspect and audit the property then they are entitled to do so at a time convenient to you and with your presence. If you think they have any REASON for their apparent suspicion, now would be a good time to negate that reason.

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I'm not sure if they are a straight-forward Housing Association or an Arm's length body. They are managing the estate on behalf of the local borough authority.

 

I agree with most people's comments, at least it seems common sense to me in a free democracy, but my tenancy agreement says that I must allow them access "...at all reasonable times.... "for other management purposes". They are saying that the audit is part of estate management and if I don't let them in I am in breach of contract, which gives them grounds for eviction. So far, my main concern is that they were setting appointments and expecting me to take a day's annual leave from work and sit around waiting for them to turn up, which I am not prepared to do. I've been so busy I haven''t had time, anyway.

 

I already asked them to send me a check list of questions they wanted answering, offered to ask my GP to verify I've been registered at the local health centre on the estate and at my address for 17 years, send them copies of rent statements, electric and phone bills etc, but they won't have it. They want photo ID as well.

 

I already suggested that I could probably find time to call in at the local office one day, but I can't make definite appointments due to work committments, and they insist the interview has to take place in my home.

 

Sucks, doesn't it?

 

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I'm not sure if they are a straight-forward Housing Association or an Arm's length body. They are managing the estate on behalf of the local borough authority.

 

 

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If they're managing the property in the way you describe then I'm pretty certain that they will fall under the FOI.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I have just found out that they are an ALMO which is wholly owned by the local Borough Authority and have taken over managing the publically-owned housing stock on the borough's behalf. They are managed by some sort of "board" of five residents, five member's of the organisation and five "independent people".

 

In order to get details of their policies, standard operating procedures, audit procedure etc, I assume I use the Freedom of Information Act, rather than the Data Protection Act? The next question is how do I go about this? I am not claiming back bank charges or anything like that, I just want information on the information they want from me, plus some other information.

 

I know from doing audits at work that many questions on an audit form are addressed to the person doing the audit, not the person being audited. So they won't ask me those questions at all. The auditor will make a value judgement and answer those questions for himself. I just want to know what those questions are, in advance. They have so far not sent me anything. They are threatening to evict me for breach of contract, although I have pointed out in writing that I am not preventing them doing their audit, nor am I denying them access to the property. They simply have failed to call round when I am at home and I am not in a position to take a day's holiday to meet an appointment of their choosing.

 

Cheers, grateful for any help.

 

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And as a guardian of misuse of dates of birth - I'm almost positive this information does not need to be disclosed, other than 'Over 21' to confirm the tenant legally entered into the contract. As I tell others, my wife and mother know my date of birth, and unless you're going to send me a card each year, it's really none of your business.

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