L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

13 November 2006 Blog Home : November 2006 : Permalink

Local Council Busybodies

For various miscellaneous reasons I was shown on some correspondance today regarding a few rental houses in the UK. The location and details of the propery really aren't relevant except to say that these are neither run down rodent infested hovels nor modern "house beautiful" sets; just smallish adequate houses that have been occupied by the same tenants for over a decade without any real issue and certainly no complainty by official (busy)bodies.

All this happy state of affairs came to an end when the landlord/agent and tenant decided to let their taxes pay for some improvements in the form of a grant to improve insulation and add a better boiler (changing from IIRC coal to gas central heatng). Anyway that required that the council send a couple of Environmental Health Technical Officers (or similar alphabet soup) around to verify that all was kosher and as described in the grant application. Said EHTOs show up and, in addition to agreeing that yes the application was all in order, note that there is a loose tile on the roof which is therefore leaking. Now in days gone by the tenant would either have shinned up a ladder to replace it or at least asked the landlord or agent to do that. It would have been done in a week or two and that would have been that.

However in these days of enlightened ZANU labour government we have EHTOs and other similar folks to get involved and they insist that first a proper Environmental Hazard report first and then that only officially sanctioned contractors fix whatever they find wrong. The inspection report is 16 pages long and is then supplmeneted by some additional report based on that which is at least as long if not longer. Near the end of the latter is the real giveaway sentence, which I copied down verbatim (E&OE)

...Unfortunately the HHRSR scoring does not come out high enough to be a category 1 hazard, it is however affecting the living conditions of the tenants

Usage of the word "unfortunately" is telling. As in "unfortunately we can't really throw the book at the landlord for being a total scumbag and thereby justifying our existence". If they had the welfare of the tenants I think they would say "fortunately" as in "fortunately it isn't really critical but nevertheless ..."

What is really really amusing is that the cover letter says something to the effect of "Ok you've fixed the tile, but all the other work we said you had to do hasn't been done because the tenant can't be arsed to tell the builder when he can come around to fix it"

Let me sum up. In order for the council to agree to a 10 minute job by some young man that would cost perhaps £100,  they generated at least two council visits of (I'm guessing) a minimum of 1 hour each by two employees, 3 or more letters, 30-40 pages of pointless reports (with a classic error where it says "Class 1 hazard" in one place and "Class 2 hazard" everywhere else) and quite possibly further follow up visits, reports and correspondance. All of which no doubt costs the taxpayers many hundreds of pounds in total.

PS to add insult to injury it seems that the council also insisted that the kitchen sink have a leaky tap fixed and the plumber caused a major leak when he tried to do so.

"Your tax pounds at work"

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin