Benefit Tenants:

Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action continues his popular TV series of Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords. The series, on Channel 5, makes especially interesting viewing for landlords, and will be appearing again soon.

Paul says, “…a few weeks ago I started filming for the new series of Nightmare Tenants and one of the cases was for my landlord Emmanual in Dagenham where we attended on the eviction.  The landlord was owed £6k by a tenant, who unfortunately ran in to money problems but failed to communicate with the landlord about his current situation (which is very common).

The tenant had taken the tenancy out in his name and came recommended to the landlord from his neighbour, so no referencing was taken out. But, unbeknown to the landlord the tenant moved in his wife and three kids into this flat in Dagenham.

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“Now this was the part I see a lot,” said Paul, “and increasingly growing in our sector, the tenant was all packed with his suitcases waiting with his wife and three kids for the bailiff to arrive, so he could receive his documentation to say that he had been evicted, so he could go to the council to try and be rehoused in first off temporary accommodation.”

This is a distressing situation no landlord wants to see children becoming upset because they have been thrown out of their home, but councils are putting this on families and forcing landlords to take legal action until the bailiff stage.

Paul says, “The bailiff confirmed to me, this is happening on an unprecedented scale.  That day by the way he told me he had 12 evictions and two weeks previously he was attacked with a hammer.

“We even reported recently of a case where the Council had allegedly told the tenant to break back into the property that they had just surrender the lease on. They had made themselves intentionally homeless.  So they instructed a locksmith to change the locks.

The previous Housing Minister, twice removed, Brandon Lewis, wrote to all councils in the country to make sure that the “Prevent Homelessness” initiative, under a new Act that came in, says councils have to intervene at 56 days, but clearly they are not doing so.  That means acting after receiving a section 21 notice, and not waiting for a bailiffs eviction date.

The National Landlords Association reported that 49% of tenants who receive a section 21 notice said their local advice centre or local council had told them to ignore it.

This totally contradicts the Government’s brief.

Councils have a duty to rehouse tenants based on a priority, but if a particular council does not have enough temporary or long-term housing to re-house, the easy option is to say: ‘Come back when you are evicted’.  Recently it was reported that there are 52,000 people in temporary accommodation in London and half of those people had to move to another Borough.

One London Borough has 22,000 people on its waiting list.

“Yes the challenges are great,” says Paul, “…with Councils not being able to secure enough properties in its Borough to rent, meaning they have to rely on the private landlords, who are willing to rent out their Buy-to-Let to a benefit tenant.

“With such challenges of rising rents, demand strong from the private tenants, changes in the Benefit System to a hugely controversial Universal Credit – all this is causing rises in evictions, as well as caps to the benefit system.  Landlords are worried because the benefit is not be paid direct to them, and tenants often don’t pass it on as rent.

“Unfortunately, we see more and more landlords at Landlord Action saying they are having to evict a tenant on Section 21 proceedings. This is because they have been advised by the council to ‘stay put’, along with the fact that small landlords are selling up because the figures don’t stack up. It’s a lot harder to rent a property nowadays (with less return), because of rising costs and more regulations, says Paul

“Unfortunately reality kicks in with the economics, and I do see more and more landlords, especially in the London and the South East, who do not want to rent to Benefit Tenants. This is despite the fact that we know that they stay in a property longer and look after it better, wanting it to be a long term home.

“Let’s hope the Local Authorities get the funding from Government they need to build more social housing. In the year up to March 2016 it was only a mere 32,110 compared to 66,600 twelve months prior, a 24 year low.

We hold our breath!

Paul Shamplina of www.landlordaction.co.uk

©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.

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