Are two rent increases within a year possible?

by Readers Question

13:37 PM, 2nd July 2020
About 3 months ago

Are two rent increases within a year possible?

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Are two rent increases within a year possible?

I increased a rent of a few of my flats in March (pre covid nightmare!) but still to UNDER the LHA rate. Since then the LHA rate has been raised significantly, so can I raise the rent again still under the capped rate?

I questioned this with RLA precisely due to the fact this is an unusual situation as at the time I had no idea the government would raise the rate to.

Essentially I as a landlord raised the rent first for my own economic reasons – a rent review was necessary and the rent had not risen for many years before. But, if the then the benefit provider subsequently raises the limit, surely I am ‘allowed/entitled’ to raise it again to be in line with the cap?

So is it possible to raise the rent twice in the same year?

Do I need to complete another S13 and given another months notice, or can I say it is an amendment to the previous one in light of the current situation?

Answers anyone?

Reluctant


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WP

14:48 PM, 3rd July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 03/07/2020 - 10:20
I get no furlough and can't apply for a grant. I have been shafted by tenants refusing to pay while the world stopped turning and now at the mercy of the courts in terms of time and cost. While I completely agree that its not fair to tar everyone with the same brush, if I don't keep the business going then I'll be selling up and there will be a whole lot more looking for housing. If the LHA was established as a line in the sand for average rents in the area then why shouldn't I charge the same. The LHA is still under the market rate for the same property in the area. I have always rented below the LHA but my costs are increasing....

Clint

14:59 PM, 3rd July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 03/07/2020 - 10:20As a landlord who has many tenants on benefits, I would say take the opportunity of getting the maximum rate which is the LHA rate. It may sound taking advantage of the system however, if you rented to benefit tenants you would know how UC operates where they just don't care about landlords losing money and in fact I would say probably have a good laugh.

I have lost six months rent with just one tenant due to stupidity of the system where on two occasions they paid the money to the tenant once in Oct, Nov, Dec 2018 and once in Jan, Feb, March 2020 where the tenant just kept the money and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. This has also happened with another tenant in Jan, Feb, March 2020 and this is all due to DWP not following their own procedures..

These are just two instances. In all, since UC started, I have continuously lost money so much so that I now demand that benefit tenants have a guarantor.

Clint

15:07 PM, 3rd July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by WP at 03/07/2020 - 09:56
I would be very interested to know how you get direct payments. Are they on HB or UC? I have never been able to get direct payments form UC until the tenant has been at least two months in arrears. With HB I always got direct payments.

If they are on UC and get direct payments from the onset, please let me know how?

Kate Mellor

15:23 PM, 3rd July 2020
About 3 months ago

It's my understanding that you can only increase rent after the fixed term has ended; and then, only once per year. Unless you have, with the tenant's agreement, made some improvements to the property with the understanding that the rent would be increased as a result. For example, if you agreed to fit a new kitchen and you gave the tenant the option that if you fitted it you would increase the rent to £X per month to reflect the increased rental value due to the new kitchen. The key here is the tenant must agree, so they will presumably expect something in return for it.

Mick Roberts

17:06 PM, 5th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Us HB LHA UC Landlords undercharge for many years when the LHA rate is low, as unlike 'normal' Landlords who just issue a rent increase, we are mindful that this means more money coming out the tenants limited pocket.
So when LHA do finally increase after years of underpaying, we have to take advantage of it, after all, we are HB Landlords. We do structure our rents around LHA or get forced to take much lower rent than we may have done to working people.
So we get it while we can as u can be sure, there will be many years going forward, when we have to accept the lower amount again, as to not hurt the tenant.
Tenants & DWP do forget this when the odd one-I had about 3% saying U milking it Mick or u getting top whack. Till u remind 'em you've been undercharging 'em for the last 5 years. And then u show 'em the current rents in the area. I tell 'em it's easy, go on Rightmove to rent, put your postcode in, half a mile, you will see there are only 4 houses to rent within 1/2 a mile & all A LOT more than yours. Most are 'ok after that once you've sent 'em the links of the expensive rent houses.

WP

12:51 PM, 7th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 03/07/2020 - 15:07
This is my latest email to the DWP (in the form of a first tier complaint) when UC paid the tenant direct from the outset of his claim. This may answer your questions..
email headed - Stage 1 Complaint - MPTL REFUSAL

Ms XX,

I have just received a letter of notification that states you are unable to make any MPTL payments to me in regard to tenant arrears.

I feel this decision must be challenged and reversed, due to the FACT that:-

1. These arrears have come about only as a DIRECT result of the decision made by DWP staff to pay Mr X directly when he first set up his claim with a UC representative. As soon as the tenant applied for UC (via the telephone application), the 'housing costs' element of the claim should have automatically been set up to be paid directly to myself the Landlord as it meets with many of the Tier 1 level factors, which SHOULD have been determined as part of the conversation with UC staff at the time of his application.

The reality is that previous to his UC claim I had been receiving direct HB rent payments since 2011, precisely because of the chaotic nature of his lifestyle. Mr X has been/still is, in and out of prison, and has a history of drug use. As a result he is unable to stabalise his financial affairs.

I would like to make reference to the APA Guidelines, Section 5 Annexe A which specifically highlights Tier 1 factors that point to the highly likely/probably need for such payments to be made directly to the Landlord.

Tier 1 Factors include:-

1.1 - the Tenant has had/is still having issues with drug use.

1.8 - The tenant has been issued with a possession order and is now at risk of eviction.

2. I was unaware Mr X had even applied for UC until his direct payment of Housing benefit stopped. As you are fully aware, a Landlord has no way of knowing that a tenant has applied for UC, and therefore there was no way I could have applied for a MPTL before or during the claim process.

3. As a consequence of explaining the above situation, and yourself agreeing now to MPTL rent payments based on these facts, it will ensure no further arrears accrue. It will therefore never get to the stage that two months worth of arrears will accrue in order to have a third party deduction made.

4. By refusing to reverse this decision, you are putting myself as the Landlord out of pocket for withholding rent fairly due for the period of entitlement that Mr X was, and still is in residence at this address. You are therefore actively putting this tenant in rent arrears, and at risk of eviction.

I await your response, and more pertinently a date of when this missing 'housing costs' element of £65.75 for rent 11 May - 15 May 2020 will be forwarded.

WP

12:55 PM, 7th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 03/07/2020 - 15:07
with new tenants I refuse to take them on unless they give express permission that I can talk to UC direct about their claim AND insist they agree to making sure UC are aware THEY want the landlord paid direct too. I call UC before I even put ink on the TA. This also acts as another check as UC tell you if there already have deductions for things like rent arrears...very telling!

Clint

12:59 PM, 7th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by WP at 07/07/2020 - 12:55
I have in the past tried that but they have always told me that I should have the tenant with me when making the call. Do you get them to sign a letter in order to get their express permission? I have tried with a signed letter from the tenant but has not worked before.

WP

13:37 PM, 7th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 07/07/2020 - 12:59
My tenants and I live 400 miles apart so no chance! If the tenant clicks on their journal to say they give you express permission for you to talk to them then UC can't refuse to talk to you. A lot of UC staff give you a load of crap saying they still can't but if this is in place they can. Ask to speak to a Manager on the phone there and then if you get a jobsworth that wont comply.

WP

13:39 PM, 7th July 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 07/07/2020 - 12:59
tenant should only have to tick a box on their journal or write a note in the journal itself stating they give explicit permission for the LL to talk to UC about their claim. it is instant. UC can then log onto their system and see the tenant has updated it and they can talk to you straight away.

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