16/12/2011 12:55 pm
My tenants started caliming LHA housing benefit in September, payments have been made direct to them but they have not paid me. I have contacted the LHA after arrears got to 7 weeks , they suspended payments and now they have asked them to to contact LHA. I am owed over a £1000. I only rent the one property which was my former home and immaculate throughout. I have started section 8 proceedings but am aware this will take months to get a court date. I feel I am in a no win situation as I pay morgage on this home and now I am financially struggling. I have read some views on private landlords reeping benefits etc, but trust me there are 2 sides to every coin. I will never rent my home to DSS again, as this system is appalling. Landlords have no rights as far as I am concerned. I am owed money and they are still allowed to live in my house until I can legally get them out which will again cost me for court fees. The system is wrong, its my property yet I dont have any legal rights. Tenants are allowed to breach tenancy aggreements yet we cannot do a thing.
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16/12/2011 1:54 pm
This post has been removed.
16/12/2011 2:00 pm
Probably a silly question, but knowing that some councils can take a long while to process a claim, and then it is paid in arrears, is it possible that the outstanding funds have not been paid to the tenants either?
16/12/2011 2:05 pm
Sorry to double the posts Wendy (I hate it when others do that) but as an after thought on your 'never to LHA tenants again'
How will you ensure that as anyone could find themselves claiming LHA - indeed it seems these tenants did not start out as needing LHA. Can you have a clause in the tenancy that says automatic eviction if you claim LHA?
Similarily - if you had a tenant who was not supported by LHA who withheld payments would you refuse to let to non-LHA tenants in future as a reprisal also?
There is a contract between the two of you, they have broken it, you are now enforcing it. Where is the problem exactly, in terms that did not exist when you started this business venture?
16/12/2011 6:03 pm
Wendy, please ignore the comment from the anonymous first poster, I honestly think that was well out of order.
F451 raises a good point about claims taking some time, but I gather from your comments about payments being stopped, that this is not the case this time. As for not renting to non LHA, it's going to be difficult to be able to terminate your tenancy if they lose their job after having moved in.
I'd rather you didn't stop renting to LHA tenants as there is going to be a growing demand considering the current economic climate, but your reaction is not too dissimilar to those that we saw a few years ago in the early 80s and early 90s, when we were in a similar situation.
I can't offer advice on your current situation, but if you're willing to rent long term, you can consider approaching a housing association, who will sign a fixed term contract to pay you rent whether the property is let or void, and will have to agree on the standard the property can be returned to you. The rent might not be as high, but it takes the worry and the hassle out of it for you.
17/12/2011 8:43 pm
@Wendy - Private Landlords are a favourite pantomime villain of some posters to this site. Usually this includes F451.
You didn't say how long they have been tenants; it may be that you could consider accelerated possession (Section 21). In future, consider serving a section 21 notice early on as a precautionary measure. The only grounds the tenant has for disputing accelerated possession is if the Section 21 notice is incorrect. You can then evict them at the end of six months (provided you follow the procedure correctly) on any grounds.
Unfortunately this does not protect you against arrears - you will need to pursue a Money Judgment.
The only advice I can give is to make sure you properly check the tenants up front (via credit checks etc which you should charge the prospective tenants for). Also, make sure the deposit is sufficient given the risk - for instance I have friends who let to students and routinely ask for six months deposits upfront otherwise its just too problematic.
Hope this helps - and please ignore the first anon post you received. IH has many contributors - ranging from the valuable to the loonies.
17/12/2011 8:49 pm
Just a clarification - the Section 21 notice has to give the tenants at least two months, but you cannot evict them within the first six months under this process. Once the notice period ends (or the first six months of the AST is up depending on when the notice is served) you can then proceed with accelerated possession.
There are a lot of resources which outline the process available online.
18/12/2011 10:00 am
Thank you Jono
Tenants have been in for 9 months now so tenancy is now periodic. I have served a section 8 on grounds 3 10 and 11. Basically, they have been paid full rent from LHA and kept the money for themselves, just wish the court process was quicker as they will stay in the house until I evict and this takes time. I could understand if I was a nuisance landlord, but the house is well maintained and I have only made 1 inspection in this time. Now my tenants chose to ignore letters etc so no contact whatsover and If I go down to the property to try and discuss , I could be accused of harrassment. I appreciate that tenants need protection but I feel the scales have now tipped totally in the tenants favour leaving us landlords high and dry.
22/12/2011 1:09 pm
LHA sent me a letter to day stating they sent an officer to visit tenants, who would not answer door so have now sent them a letter stating they must contact me directly to rectify these arrears and they must contact LHA by 12th January. The letter telling them to contact me was sent on 16th December and I still havnt had a call from them. Just hope LHA prosecute as the people have used tax payers money for their own gain.
23/12/2011 9:36 am
Quite so nonny - Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a private landlord turning away a heavily pregnant young lady and her husband, before renting them a space in a filthy stable at 80%MR!
23/12/2011 10:41 am
There are good tenants and bad tenants. There are good landlords and bad landlords. Some people on these forums seem incapable of understanding this.
This one sounds like a case of a bad tenant. How ridiculous of one poster to suggest that it is somehow the landlord's fault if the rent isn't paid because they should have taken out 'insurance against loss of income'.
23/12/2011 10:54 am
Correct Nonny - although do you not think it also ridiculous to refuse any future tenant claiming LHA because of the actions of one tenant, ignoring that anyone may withold payment regardless of their income source.
Reactionary comment is rarely helpful - but how the propertied whinge if the reaction is against them!
23/12/2011 1:46 pm
Make sure you also persue a money claim via the courts which will result in a CCJ against the tenants. Even if you only get £1 per week back though this method it's worth doing it because it will stop these criminals from being able to get hold of another decent private rented flat via letting agents. They will then only be able to go to the LA who will find them intentionally homeless. This will mean that they reep the misery they sow upon others.
28/12/2011 6:19 pm
It's shameful that this happens and I do hope that you get a court date soon! However, it is just as likely to happen with rent paying tenants as with DSS tenants!
05/01/2012 12:11 pm
Order was up on 30th December, tenants are still in property, still no rent payments and now £1300 in arrears and causing a nuisance to neighbours. Applied to court and have date for 7th Feb. Oddly enough, tenants have been applying via agencies for another house, obviously they will be using money owed to me for the bond and deposit. Housing ben are investigating them so they will not be able to claim it so I really feel sorry for next landlord as this is going to carry on. Something needs to change as tenants like this are going to stop landlords from accepting DSS . I have read a lot of forums and apparently this is a loophole and a scam, tenants apply for housing ben and under a rule can claim up to 13 weeks full benefit but they do not pay landlord and pocket the money. Landlord then has to serve notice and apply to court(all takes time), allowing tenants to remain in property rent free!!!
05/01/2012 12:43 pm
Get the CCJ which shows that they owe you £1300 plus court costs. You will only get £2 per week back or something disgusting but this will protect other landlords as when they run credit checks these criminals will not pass because the CCJ will show up. No other decent landlord will touch them and the LA will find them intentionally homelesss. They will then hopefully have to face the consequences of the mistery they reeped upon you!!!
05/01/2012 1:11 pm
I ticked yes on court forms to claim money back, so fingers crossed this will happen, although I do understand that due to tenants not working I will receive a stupid sum. You are correct, this may be the only way of stopping this and also stopping this scam and abusing decent tax payers money. Trust me , it would have been cheaper for me to pay someone to throw them out, but thats not me. I have always worked hard, never broken the law and am a decent Landlord.
05/01/2012 1:14 pm
Why do people abuse this site. If you have nothing decent to say, then dont say anything. Your so brave, anonymous!!!
05/01/2012 1:27 pm
The worst thing about this scenario is that most landlords write off the debts without getting the judgement when the tenant abandons the property before a final court date.
This is the main reason why these criminals get to do this scam time and time again. Get the CCJ and the biscuit wheels fall off this scam and they start to seriously suffer themselves. It takes a long time and it's painfull but it's certainly Payback time when the reality bites in!!!
05/01/2012 1:28 pm
Wendy - you don't make it clear about the size of property your tenants are renting. Is it self contained flat, in which case your rent levels seem reasonable?
Regardless, what is your opinion of the benefit cap - is that going to make the situation better or worse (i.e. will more landlords suffer your experience or less in your opinion?)
The other thing that would be interesting to learn from you is whether you think those landlords currently charing thousands per week (in certain cases) will reduce their rents as a result of the cap, or simply wait for their tenants to default and evict them?
We lack private landlord views on these matters on this forum, so it would be great to hear yours.
05/01/2012 2:38 pm
Poor Wendy, you have my sincerest sympathies.
I run a small business cleaning and repairing voids for an Estate Agent service to Private Landlords. They are very slow in paying for this work, do you think I should ban all Estate Agents from using my services as a result?
05/01/2012 4:22 pm
It wasnt the, " Good Effort", I made the comment to, it was a post that was put on at 1:09 and removed.
I dont want to get into any arguments regarding this. All I am trying to do is make people aware this has happened to me, and therefore, could happen to somebody else. I am not a multi rental landlord. I rent only the one property, which was my former family home. Yes. there are good landlords and bad, same as tenants, and no, I do not judge everyone the same or I wouldnt be doing this. One thing I will say is, this has opened my eyes and will make me more wary of any prospective tenant in future. There are 2 sides to every coin and thank goodness its usually just the minority that try and ruin it for the majority
05/01/2012 10:48 pm
Wendy - sounds like things are progressing slowly.
I think some of the posts you have received in response are a disgrace. Probably being made by the same people that complain of tenant demonisation in the press and elsewhere.
Of course if you have had a bad experience with a certain kind of customer, it makes perfect sense that you'd want to target a different segment of the market.
Nonny at 2:38 - presumably you have the choice of withholding services if your clients owe you more than what is tolerable - whereas Private Landlords such as Wendy have to jump through legal hoops I suspect you don't. Whilst you have the choice to withhold those services and use the additional free time to provide services to a paying customer instead, Wendy cannot do the same without considerable personal inconvenience.
Your circumstances are hardly comparable.
06/01/2012 10:40 am
Perhaps is some landlords had not behaved so badly in the past the extent of legal protection would not be needed - but don't let that get in the way of blaming benefit claimants for what is actually the fault of those bad landlords.
If the sector cleaned itself up and acted to remove those bad landlords then perhaps the dabate would be less emotive.
06/01/2012 12:33 pm
So you don't think that they should have resolved the matter through individual negotiation Jono?
Oddly, the same laws that protect the tenant from unfair eviction protect the lanldord from losing their property from unfair occupation. The issue then is one of expediency. Something that I'm sure you will relate to Jono - part of the reason the process takes as long as it does is the presumption that the parties should resolve the matter through individual negotiation. As the law supports your basic rule of life, is the law wrong or right in this matter?
06/01/2012 1:53 pm
One reason might be that if these tenants were in paid employment they'd have to pay back the debt at a more reasonable rate as the courts would probably do an income vs expenditure assessment - this seems reason enough to discriminate against those on benefits especially if you've had your fingers burned already...
06/01/2012 2:40 pm
How does a private landlord protect themselves from a highly paid, hence benefit free, tenant losing their job and thus becoming a tenant on benefit? Will those landlords who refuse to house tenants with benefits be allowed to evict on grounds of either unemployment of salary reduction? Is that what this landlord is asking for?
06/01/2012 3:07 pm
I think Nonny you'll find the benefit cap will deal with that for such landlords as all they need to do is wait for the arrear to occur and then evict - might take a couple of months, the tenant may have been a good tenant for years, but as soon as they become an 'evil benefit claimant' they can be thus evicted, deemed intentionally homeless, and move to the nearest gutter.
This isn't a dig at landlords, but clearly the evil that is our government.
06/01/2012 3:17 pm
Landlords should be able to choose who their tenants are, exclude who we please, charge what we want and the government should be grateful if we accept one of their benefit cases.
As soon as the rent is not paid the law should consider the tenancy forfeit.
That is what we want of Shapps - he is working towards it but hampered by the sandal wearing do-gooders in the coalition.
06/01/2012 5:35 pm
F451 - clearly Wendy has explained she has tried to contact the residents, but they have been unresponsive. My point was that the legal issues facing her are not comparable to those faced by the nonny poster, and the choices aren't the same.
In response to other posts - a Private Landlord should have the right to withdraw the supply of their 'goods and services' if they are not being paid as agreed. To say otherwise is stupid. Perhaps I should put down a deposit on a Ferrari, and then explain I don't earn enough to pay the monthly repayments despite claiming I could, but should still expect to enjoy the benefits at cost to Ferrari. I know the consequences are different when it comes to housing but the principle isn't. No-one should expect the unearned. If you stop paying the rent, you stop earning the right to live in the property (in my view).
06/01/2012 8:24 pm
Precisely Jono - do remember that next time you feel the urge to blame tenants for failing to negotiate rents that they can afford etc - one sided negotiations tend to feel like Wendy's experience.
07/01/2012 6:30 pm
F451 - the situation of a prospective tenant negotiating what level of rent to pay, is entirely different to an actual tenant who has agreed to pay rent at a certain level and on certain terms. A private landlord should not have to negotiate, once that agreement is in place, over payment of the agreed rent. If they don't pay it, they should have to leave. This case shows how hard it is to enforce that principle.
A tenant is responsible for agreeing to pay a rent they can, and intend to actually pay. If they cannot keep to that, they shouldn't take up the property, or should hand it back and find somewhere else to live.
We all earn a living from our assets and skills - if one person exploits the assets and skills of another against their will do you not agree that the principle of it is wrong? Or do you think it depends on the victim? If you believe in the latter, will you admit to your prejudice?
07/01/2012 9:52 pm
Thank You Jono
I really wish people would read what is happening here. As I have stated, time and time again. I purchased the home I now live in by using equity from my previous family home to move closer to work and have quality time with my daughters(goodness knows, I deserve it). I've worked all my life and raised my daughters as a single parent, never claimed benefits and yes, struggled. I am not wealthy, I work full time and am 49yrs old. The law allows tenants to not pay rent and breach a so called legal contract, yet, when the landlord wants to take action...Blocked...get a solicitor..cannot afford one...I have had to rearearch how to serve action action through hours of scrolling through sites. I served action(fingers crossed I have completed forms correct or it will get slung out of court, regardless tenants still havnt paid rent or even tried to negotiate arrears). On the day of court, if I am lucky, I will get possession in either 2 weeks to 6 weeks, if tenants still stay, I have to approach the courts and spend yet more money I dont have to get baillifs, again, a date has to be set, could be another 4 to 6 weeks. How am I supposed to pay my morgages, work full time when I cant sleep, am suffering from severe anxiety and stress. As I stated before, I really hope this is a small minority trying to ruin this for the majority. I am not judgmental, but will have to look out for myself in future and be very careful when I chose a tenant.
09/01/2012 2:26 pm
Update. I have just received a very confusing call from Housing benefit advising me that tenents were not entitled to 13 week rule to get full housing benefit so their suspended payments have now fully ceased yet, they are not asking the tenants to pay back money as it was apparently housing benefits fault. Hello, these tenants have received over £1300 which should have been paid to LL not pocketed, yet, housing be are not asking for it back and if they claim again, they will be entitled to housing benefit. In the meantime they are still living in my house, not paying rent and I have to wait until February to go to court!!!!! Very disgusted as a hard working tax payer
10/01/2012 2:44 pm
Wendy - my sympathies are with you, having been in a simlar position myself sometime ago. Needless to say not only was I out of pocket from owed rent (like your situation it was kept by the thieving tenants), but alos left iwth a property that required substantial repiars also. So my resolution was go private every time. Unfortunately this does mean that some decent claimants of HB have to make another option, but human nature will take over. As you state, this is your home and you weren't in it for profit - you do get some idiot posters on here however who will judge every private landlord as a money grabbing facist!! They live sheltered lives. Hopefully your so called tenants will vacate the property prior to the court hearing and you can get back to a 'normal' life. The other option next time is to use a letting agent with guaranteed rents, may make it easier and they will carry out a full vetting process of any potential tenants. Chun up!!
10/01/2012 3:17 pm
Yes the law is an utter joke in this respect. If you want to evict a tenant within the 6 month AST period using a section 8 notice they need to be at least 8 weeks in arrears at which point you can apply for eviction - by the time you get to court a further 2 months or so later the judge may decide to grant another month or so to the tenant for them to find other accommodation. If they still don't leave the landlord has to apply for bailifs to get them out which again can take 2 weeks or up to a month. In short it can take approx 6 months to get rid of a parasitic tenant like the case above. Approx 500pm * 6 months = £3,000 in lost revenue whilst still having to pay the mortgage in most cases. It's a joke. No wonder so many private landlords take the law in to their own hands when faced with this issue. I'm not saying its right to use hired muscle to assist with an illegal eviction but I understand why they might be tempted to use this method.