Hi, I’m Lesley Henderson – still writing after all these years! Credits to date: ‘Landlord’s (and Tenant’s) Survival Guides’, BBC radio work many other articles, plus giving independent advice – oh and a private landlord. Busy life. So when I got in touch with my old colleague Tom from LandlordZONE, to tell him to mention my new advisory website, he offered me the chance to write another article for LandlordZONE. But Tom’s a rare gentleman.
And I did have a list a mile long of hot topics I wanted to discuss – I did …. until a heartrending plea dropped into my inbox. And then everything changed. I really thought I’d heard it all after 40 + years in Lettings. But I was wrong. Could even a novice landlord have been so badly fooled, badly advised and charged so often… even as we approach the 25th year of Assured Shortholds? Well, after some serious checking, I found that, yes indeed, they could.
I decided to share my fury with Tom’s readers, as a kind of Q&A of what can still happen to any under-informed landlord who isn’t armour plated with lettings facts, before trusting an £££asset to some ‘local’ agent. So let’s share a summary of awful loss, frustration, distress and, desperation in 2013.
You think I’m exaggerating? Well, judge for yourself.
1. “I used a local High Street agency to let out my house – because I didn’t know all the rules.”
Always check, before you pay a brass cent, what you’re paying an agent to do. Look online for a long trading record and reviews. Double check everything before signing over valuable property assets.
2. “My house was let – and the agency took 2 month’s rent as the fee, and the deposit – which they said they’d send to a Deposit Scheme. They didn’t. In fact they went bust and the shop just closed.
Phones and emails went unanswered – they just ran off with everyone’s money. ”
Anyone can set up a letting’s agency – there’s no requirement for honesty. So check! Agents can disappear into thin air; leaving landlords robbed blind. No deposit scheme. Nor rental insurance she’d paid for. No rent. Just an occupied house.
3. “The agent let my house to someone on benefits. Once they’d shut down, I struggled to get my rent from the tenant but couldn’t.”
Insist on reading any letting agents contract. Sign nothing till you’re happy. Have ‘No Benefit Tenants’ in writing if that’s what you want. If the contract’s 30 pages long BE-WARY and read every word.
4. “This has now gone on for 2 years with no rent. I was advised to serve my tenant a Section 21 Notice. The tenant was (correctly – this is a legal anomaly) told by a Housing Officer not to move out without a Court Order. Costly advice told me to head for Court. But the Court wouldn’t make any Possession Order as I didn’t have the tenant’s deposit in a Scheme. The agents had stolen that too. So I lost.”
Who in their right mind charges a landlord in this mess to seek a Section 21? The judge was right. No Tenancy Deposit Scheme – no Section 21 Possession. Plus a fine. And the long weeks rolled on as the landlord repeatedly begged Tenancy Schemes to accept her own cash in lieu of the stolen deposit. They couldn’t accept it. Out of time.
5. “The first judge had said to ‘get a deposit in place’ then apply for Section 21 again. After weeks of begging someone to accept my cash – one sympathetic TDS accepted it and issued the papers. But when I applied again for a Section 21, a different Judge said that the TDS must be in place as soon as the deposit was given by the tenant – it seems I’d been told the wrong thing again. I’m now told this
TDS certificate is years too late for any Section 21 Notice and I am desperate. Years of lost rent, stolen deposits, advice that costs a fortune and never works.
Can someone please help me. I desperately need to get back into my own home now – I am running out of money renting another house to live in, while my tenant lives rent free in my home. Please, please, can someone help me sort this out. I just want my house back.”
What charlatans charged this woman to seek a Section 21 TWICE, when she couldn’t use it anyway? She could easily have used one of several Mandatory Grounds, not least the rent arrears using
Ground 8. As for the ‘lost rent’, it’s not ‘lost’ – it’s been stolen by the tenant and needs repaying by whatever means. All of which she’s now happily proceeding with, relieved to just get back on course.
What’s needed is not always costly legal advice, just the Right Advice. The ’88 Act is a simple contract between landlord and tenant. There’s all any landlord (or tenant) needs, and all available on sites like Landlordzone, NLA, LandlordLaw and many others, even my own new advisory site:- www.tenantandlandlordrights.co.uk/ that I had rather hoped to be writing about! A book for reference is a must (you can buy mine or others for pence + P&P, second-hand on http://Amazon.co.uk/ )
So I’m sorry you didn’t hear much about The Localism Acts’ impact on us landlords, the TDS changes, the HMO impacts, the sneaky loss of Greater London’s ‘sub’s – let alone the Chancellor’s latest counter-intuitive wheeze to pump up our very own Sub Prime mortgage market – likely to *POP* at the first hint of interest rate rises.
Maybe Tom will find room for a couple of these worthy topics in later LandlordZONEs – but I just thought it was more important to share what’s still happening to under-informed landlords who don’t learn the rules – or check up on their agents.
Shysters and crooks have always found wriggle room in rentals – and nothing’s changed but the size of the mortgages.