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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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:29 AM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "10/01/2014 - 10:56":

Council rights of eviction for protected tenancies are very different to those we work with in the PRS. I am no expert on this but I know a man who is. I have invited Ben Reeve-Lewis to comment via Twitter 🙂


12:03 PM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

I interviewed Fergus Wilson yesterday, and his comments need to be looked at in the light of his personal situation.

He is 65 and hoped to retire 5 years ago. He made the decision based on the fact that 52% of his tenants in receipt of housing benefit are in arrears, and the fact that he just wants "a quiet life".

The media have sensationalised something quite personal to Fergus and not every landlord will feel the same.

Those that take time to understand the benefits system and have their own systems in place do not see anything to worry about.

Like others, I wonder at why there is not more outrage at tax payer's money being used to fund tenant's lifestyles, than being used to keep a roof over their heads.

At the end of the day, each landlord must make a personal decision on this, based on their own situation and the stage they are at in their own property journey.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:18 PM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Vanessa Warwick" at "10/01/2014 - 12:03":

Hi Vanessa

I have added your video to the main article at the top of this thread, great interview and well done indeed for tracking Mr Wilson down 🙂

He's quite a character isn't he? I've been reading about him on Wikipedia >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fergus_and_Judith_Wilson

Ben Reeve-Lewis

14:52 PM, 10th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "10/01/2014 - 10:39":

Jeremy there isnt a fixed amount on which a council would evict.

For a start a bog standard council tenancy is called a "Secure tenancy" and there isnt an automatic ground for eviction for them. All 20 grounds are at the judge's discretion.

However if the council's tenancy has been taken over by an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO....standard practice) then they might be an Assured Tenant instead, in which case there is a mandatory 2 month ground.

Unlike PRS Landlords social landlords have to follow the "Rent arrears pre-action protocol", which is a whole host of stuff that has to be done before they even apply for possession.

the protocol is a set court requirement that sits alongside a social landlord's own internal procedures. If the landlord fails to follow either procedure then their case wil get thrown out of court.

Applying for rent arrears in any event on such a small sum will probably result in even the most landlord friendly judge giving an ear-bashing to the hapless housing officer. As is the case in the PRS, letters are sometimes sent just to rattle people's cages. The sender of those letters may know full well their claim wouldnt stand a prayer.

And also, as is the case in the PRS sometimes a clueless untrained housing officer thinks they have a good case.

Fed Up Landlord

13:05 PM, 11th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Fair play to Fergus I say.

I see there is a petition to ban Benefits Street......well can I say that from my experiences in a previous occupation ( and that included dealing with the residents of James Turner St ) that it is an accurate portrayal of that particular locality. But all benefits claimants are not like that. But a lot of the "lifestyle choice " ones are. And the comments about the flat screen TVs and the Iphones... yes this particular class of claimant "just has to have them"

How does this affect us as landlords?

Those that are letting to benefit claimants may feel nervous;
Those that are thinking about it..will probably not....
Those who have had a bad experience (myself included) with benefits tenants and the local authority most definitely will not......

So this sort of publicity plus the direct payment system being cancelled will only make things worse for all benefits claimants. And the (tiny) socialist part of me feels sorry for those that will be discriminated against because of it. But the landlord part of me has little sympathy for those that put the flat screen TV, Iphone, cans of superstrength lager, and drugs before the roof over their heads and that of their family.

So where do they go. Shortage of social housing, reduced private rental pool, increased house prices, inability to get credit, increased immigration ( a lot of which are quite able to pay private rents)

Quite a dilemma the current and previous governments have caused by their policies and expansion of the benefits system.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

13:37 PM, 11th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "11/01/2014 - 13:05":

If the references in this thread relate to Governments policy being to remove the choices of whether to work or not Gary that's surely a good thing isn't it, provided those in genuine need of support such as the frail, elderly and severely disabled people who are genuinely unable to support themselves are still protected of course?

A huge part of me thinks it's a good thing that good thing that government are doing. That possibly makes any landlord who decides to work against government policies a fool does it not.

Fergus is certainly no fool from what I can gather.

The message seems very clear to me; if you want a roof over you head, as well as an iphone, holidays and a flat screen TV then get off your arse and get a job!

The message to landlords is equally clear; rent to lazy benefits seekers who are capable of working at your own peril.

Jeremy Smith

3:00 AM, 12th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "10/01/2014 - 14:52":

Thank you Ben and Mark, for noticing my own question/comment within this thread.
I know it's not exactly on topic, but related to Mr Wilson's case...

Thanks Ben for pointing out that council tenants have further rights, I will be researching the rights of secure and assured tenants in due course
and my point for including my question in this thread is that..

...it is not only private landlords trying to 'purge' their portfolios, councils too !!

Cambridge City Council have been sending out letters to HB claimants to tenants with only a few pounds of arrrears, and as mentioned, at £93, a Notice of Eviction threat !!

I will be looking into whether this can be regarded as harassment of tenants on secure or assured tenancies of their right to enjoy their home without harassment.

This is causing distress and anxiety to the tenants who are receiving these letters.
People in vulnerable situations with limited incomes when receiving these letters will possibly suffer depression as well due to the stress and worry.

This would be totally out of order from PRS lanlords, we would be taken to the cleaners by a court !!!

Andrew Miller

9:29 AM, 12th January 2014, About 10 years ago

councils purging their tenants now preparing for UC , why should't they. in fact they are going further than this. Hull CC are actually trying to attract and in indeed pinching the best tenants from the local PRS. As per my initial thread on page 1 there is a glut of houses up north. to few tenants chasing too many homes. The local council don't bother taking references and remove them from our houses with no notice!
i am surprised that no one has picked up on the extent of the north south divide and can only presume you all live south of the M25!
i also repeat most professional landlords are happy with payment direct. it works and the quicker it is rolled out to the public sector the better.why should they retain their wholly unfair position with payment direct to the council coffers.
thankfully we have a new housing minister from Yorkshire in Kris Hopkins , we we met last month. He fully appreciates the extent of the divide and how incompetent LA's are at managing property. The quicker they are forced into the market place with payment direct the quicker they might transfer their stock to RSL's . LA's wear far to many hats when it comes to the PRS - paymaster enforcer and competitor - and the quicker the 1st two are removed the better.Housing locally has for far to long been used as a political tool and not all LA's have had the guts to transfer their stock fearing they will alienate their voters. Roll on UC

Jeremy Smith

13:00 PM, 12th January 2014, About 10 years ago

I spoke to an agent in the leeds area, she told me a lady in the HB office suggested the following:

tenant needs two months rent as deposit,
they move in with no deposit, that makes them 2 months in arrears immediately,
therefore the landlord/lady can get the HB payments directly from day one due to the arrears.

is there a flaw in that ?

I would imagine the paperwork would have to be done carefully to make it legal.

Fed Up Landlord

13:21 PM, 12th January 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "12/01/2014 - 13:00":

Jeremy I can hear Industry Observer gnashing his teeth over his Sunday lunch on this one already ( LOL)

If they move in without paying a deposit- then that's the landlords lookout if it goes wrong. They should pay a months rent in advance. Deposits a deposit, rent is rent. Do not confuse the two in this scenario or it could end in tears.

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