200 Housing benefits tenants are served section 21 notice by Kent Landlord

200 Housing benefits tenants are served section 21 notice by Kent Landlord

13:27 PM, 9th January 2014, About 10 years ago 50

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Kent based Landlord Mr Fergus Wilson reported to the press that he has served section 21 notices to more than 200 tenants on housing benefits asking them to leave after six months.

Mr Wilson has a portfolio of over 1000 properties and has decided not to rent in the future to tenants claiming housing benefit preferring instead tenants from Eastern Europe who he says are more likely to pay their rent on time.

Mr Wilson said, “this decision is only down to money it has nothing to do with the personalities involved.

“When it comes to money over half of people on benefits were defaulting on their rent, and when it comes to people who are working, we’ve not had one single person default on one single penny. You can appreciate why. Rents are going up in line with the price of houses and housing benefit levels are dropping at the same time.

“Tenants from eastern Europe, places like Poland, have been here a number of years now and have built up a good enough credit rating to rent privately. We won’t see the impact of more recent migration for years to come, but people on benefits are having to compete with them.

“My message to people is get yourself a job, and you will get yourself a house.”

Mr Wilson also added “The problem is that you have a finite number of houses, but more people wanting to rent them than places are available. With that pressure, what tends to give is the poorest people at the bottom of the economic pile.

“We are going to be in a position in the next 20 years where it becomes more and more difficult for people to find housing, and no one seems to have an answer. You tell people in a place like Ashford that they need more housing and they’re likely to lynch you they are sick of being built on, but it’s a fact.”

The NLA has also released a statement regarding this story in the press:

Chief Executive Officer, Richard Lambert said, “our current research shows we’re seeing more and more landlords moving away from renting to tenants claiming benefits.

“It was widely assumed that rent rises were fueled by housing benefit, and that if benefit rates were reduced, rents would fall back to meet them. That’s been shown to be a completely false assumption. There are many wider factors affecting rent levels, principally the availability of properties and the number of people looking to rent.

“As the Welfare Reform agenda has progressed over the past three years, benefit levels haven’t kept up with rents, meaning it’s a greater risk for landlords renting to tenants who rely on benefits, which is why they are looking more and more to working tenants who don’t tend to fall into arrears that easily. The fact is that there are many more working tenants looking to rent because it is still so difficult for first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder. “However, we know of many landlords who have rented to housing benefit tenants on for many years and have never had a problem, so our advice would be to always look at every tenant on an individual basis.

“Being a landlord is a business and there are landlords who specialise in letting in the housing benefit market. They tend to be the more experienced landlords with larger portfolios, who understand how to manage tenancies to ensure stability and minimise the risk of arrears.”

The following interview with Fergus Wilson appears courtesy of Property Tribes

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Colin Childs

19:07 PM, 9th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Journalistic licence appears to have been used in editing this article from the original version. Where one main issue was the ability to obtain rent guarantee insurance. So very much a business focus. As opposed to the slant of singling particular people out per se.

Alistair Cooper

20:15 PM, 9th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jamie Moodie" at "09/01/2014 - 14:08":

I agree with the majority of what you say except the part about this being the result of another failed Labour policy.
It is Grant Schapps (the current Tory Party Chairman) who has completely reneged on his clear promise to the NLA to reverse the Direct payment to tenant debarcle. The Tories have gone on to strengthen further this obsession with Direct payment to Claimants with their ill thought out and even more poorly executed Universal Credit policy, the brain child of Ian Duncan Smith. The overall benefit cap, although this policy has some merit, is again swayed completely against Landlords as it is the LHA that is capped 1st before any other benefits the Claimants may be claiming. The move away from any local involvement in benefit processing and the obsession with monthly only payments are even more reasons wny Landlords are so understandably nervous of letting to LHA Claimants.
Although your frustration with all politicians may be merited you should focus your wrath on the Tories for this one!

Freda Blogs

10:27 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Landlords have been aware of this problem for some time, and Mr Wilson's action has highlighted it to the general media, so now it is being given some attention. I would hope however that he is only serving notices on benefit tenants in arrears, as it would be hugely unfair on those who had done no wrong.

Has anyone seen the programme Benefits Street? If this is typical, it is hardly surprising that landlords are so reluctant to let to people on benefits. Whilst we can all sympathise with those who are less fortunate, the people featured in this programme appear to be doing little other than whingeing at how their "entitlements" have been cut, whilst hanging around during the day smoking and drinking, seemingly taking no responsibility for their situation or attempting to do anything about it (other than the chaps who go shoplifting).

Further, in one scene, we see a lounge with a huge flat screen TV and two iPhones in evidence – and they don't come cheap! Most likely hard working taxpayers have paid for those...many of whom can't afford them for themselves.

It is not a sustainable situation.

Jamie M

10:34 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Freda - what you have described is normal for huge numbers of claimants, they need iPhones and 50" TVs. Its their rights innit!

Alistair - Labour started it and yes the Torys are rubbing it in - I despise and mistrust them all in equal measure

Jeremy Smith

10:39 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Please can someone tell me what rent arrears is sufficient to allow a Notice of Eviction from the council to a HB Cliamant....

....My friend has to pay a top-up amount, around £15 per week, since she has two bedrooms.
She usually pays it in lump sums, so gets a bit behind, then pays it off.
She had been getting letters saying that she needs to get up to date and that she's in arrears, eg £30, sometimes £60...
Then she receives a letter of Notice of Eviction, she's £93 in arrears.
...That's less than ONE WEEK arrears, but 6 weks of her contributions behind.

Surely, the Housing Benefit payments have to be taken into consideration as part of her payment of the rent, and so those would have to stop and her get to around £800 in arrears to trigger a Notice, for then being 2 months behind.

Is it right that they can consider only her contribution to take this to court ?

Neil Patterson

10:41 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Freda Blogs" at "10/01/2014 - 10:27":

I am sure for ratings that most television programs want to portray the most sensationalist view possible.

I personally have no experience and I am sure there are many people as describe by others here who milk the system.

My only thought is - what if for some unforeseen reason I need help from the state. I know I would be doing my best to get out of the situation, but would also hope that the short term help needed would be there for me as I have never needed it before.

Jamie M

10:48 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Jeremy - To the best of my knowledge its two months rent (total rent) in arrears,

Jeremy Smith

10:56 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Thanks Jamie, my opinion too,
but if the council can do this, then there are sending out hundreds of letters and using bullying tactics against people who are already struggleing to make ends meet, then get threatened with eviction.

...Any other opinions whould be valued,
I've taken it to the local MP, but you know what response I get there !!

Freda Blogs

10:56 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "10/01/2014 - 10:41":

I agree entirely, and I think that short term help was the original premise for the benefits system originally - any of us may need it at some time in our lives.

Unfortunately though it has become a way of life for many with no real incentive to stop relying on it...

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:12 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

I suspect the Wilson's are making a stand and hoping that other landlords will follow their lead in order to highlight the ridiculousness of the system and the way it is heading.

Where will these 200 families move to? I suspect a lot of them will not be able to find accommodation in their locality and may even need to look outside of Kent.

Most landlords will consider benefits tenants if a working, home-owner will guarantee them. However, people herd with their peer group and many benefits claimants friends and families are in exactly the same position. Who's fault is that? I suspect that if people choose to answer that question this could be a VERY long thread!

To answer Neil's question, if you were to fall on hard times the chances are that you would be able to get a guarantor wouldn't you? This is because your friends and family are likely to be in the same socio-economic group as you, i.e. hard working, conscientious home-owners. I often have a few tenants in this position renting properties in my portfolio, even though I am targeting a higher calibre of tenants. For me, the golden rule is this; is RGI available based on the tenant/guarantor referencing? If the answer is no that's also my answer to the tenant. I don't take RGI as I consider it to be more economical to self underwrite due to the size of my portfolio. However, my thought process is that if the risk is considered too great by an insurance company then there is a lot to be said for following their lead.

With regards to what has been posted about the North/South divide I am shocked. I can't understand where the over supply of properties has come from in the North to the extent that people can't even let their properties to benefits tenants. Can somebody explain please?

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