Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords?!!!

by Readers Question

8:44 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords?!!!

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Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords?!!!

As everyone knows bedroom tax is not  tax, but the above is a handy way to refer to it. Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords

Earlier this year I received a simple very clear brief about this, written by the chief housing officer of Purbeck District Council..  The essential features of the measure are:

  1. It only applies to people of working age.
  2. It only applies to people who are receiving Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance or whatever else it may be being called to pay their rent.
  3. It only applies to those living in social housing, i.e. Council Housing, housing provided by a Housing Association, or by some other Registered Social Landlord.
  4. It is concerned with “spare” bedrooms.  Thus for example a household of one or two parents and one child is considered to need a 2-bedroom dwelling.  If this family is living in a 3-bedroom dwelling it has a “spare” bedroom. The benefit paid will be reduced by, I think, 14%.  The same principle applies to smaller families, larger houses, etc.

The purpose of this measure is to free up  publicly funded accommodation which is under occupied for households who need larger dwellings, as we all know.

In the light of this I have been surprised to read and hear of private landlords whose tenants are having their benefit payments reduced, essentially on the grounds of under occupation.  Now it is happening to me!

This has prompted me to contact the local councillor who is Chairman of Housing at our local council who in turn asked the chief housing officer whether the rules had changed since early in the year.  The answer is that they have not.  They remain as outlined above.

What is going on?

Best wishes,

Michael Bond.



Comments

r01

11:14 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Suggest your tenant takes a lodger temporarily to help with the rent. You can provide a simple lodgers agreement for them to ensure the lodger has no rights to stay long term.

I think it is perfectly correct that people in receipt of housing benefits should not be paid for empty rooms they could so easily be renting out (and sometimes are doing without telling anyone, pocketing both the benefit and the rent).

There is also a maximum rent and when one of my tenants was made unemployed he was only given the specified rent for the location he lives in and that was without a spare room. I had the choice of either temporarily reducing my rent or letting him fall behind and evicting. He's a good, long term tenant so we met and agreed a plan of reduction until he found a new job with a structured repayment over the following 6 months once working.

I accept and agree with the principle that these controls are to stop people living in larger, high cost accommodation at yours and my expense when a a smaller property or even bed-sit might be perfectly acceptable, particularly whilst they are unemployed.

There are plenty of stories of so-called successful landlords going bust and ending up living in a single room & if I couldn't let my properties I would have to reduce my own standard of living - why not everyone else??

R

Mary Latham

11:26 AM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Private landlords are not suffering because of "bedroom tax" that is only about social housing. We are suffering from benefit caps and reductions in allowances for non-dependant relative. Under LHA rules tenants are only paid for the number of rooms that they are deemed to need not the number of rooms in the property and some tenants have faced reductions where they children are now classed as adults and should be claiming in their own right and contribution from their benefits towards to rent. Some of these children have in fact left the family home and therefore the LHA payment is reduced anyway.

Many landlords did not realise that we have had a form of "bedroom tax" since LHA was introduced. The benefit caps are slowly being introduced and will cover the whole country eventually and this will reduce the amount they many tenants are given to help with their rent.

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Michael Bond

13:18 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Thank you. This makes it all very clear. I agree in principle with the government's attempts to make the benefit system more sensible .Like everyone else I am much less happy when it affects me adversely!

Michael.

Barbara Thorning

15:49 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

In this area [Wirral] HB for homes in the PRS is/was paid according to the requirements of the tenant eg £375/month for 1 bedroom [if over 35], £450 for 2 bedrooms, £525 for 3 bedrooms and so on. There was an anomaly between PRS and Social Housing because Social Housing tenants were paid HB according to whatever the rent on their property was at the time the tenancy began. A family of 1 or 2 parents and a male teenager and a female teenager would have rented a 3 bedroom house at whatever the rent was, say £500/mth. Typically a few years down the line one of the teenagers moved out but the HB claimant continued to receive the rent for the property, eg £500. Now that the HB is being reassessed so that Social HB and PRS HB are at the same rate this family is only entitled to HB for 2 bedrooms and £450 will be paid to them. They now have the choice of finding the extra £50/month themselves or moving to a 2 bedroom property for £450/month. This is being described as a ‘tax’ on the 3rd bedroom but really it’s a reduction in HB, not a tax as such. Social Housing tenants entitled to 2 bedrooms in a 2 bedroom house with a rent of £475 will now only receive the LHA rate of £450, which is what PRS tenants were only ever entitled to and face the same decision. The percentage reduction varies according to the difference between the entitlement and the actual rent.

It sounds as though your tenant’s family circumstances have changed since the original HB entitlement was assessed.

Vanessa Warwick

15:57 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

I have just posted this report by HB expert Bill Irvine, which may shed some further light on the points raised by Mary:

http://www.propertytribes.com/benefits-cap-hits-2400-t-8761.html

Bill believes that the benefits caps are only just starting to bite!

Jay James

16:15 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Mary, private landlords and private tenants have been suffering because of what is now inaccurately called "bedroom tax" for many years and even decades. That is, they have had limits placed on HB / rent rebate because of spare bedrooms. Thus your comment that private landlords do not suffer from "bedroom tax" (ie reduction or limits in benefits because of spare rooms) is inaccurate. One dreads to think of other inaccuracies in your book.

Jay James

16:25 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Michael Bond, the reductions for private tenants has been going on for decades and that is what you see happening as described in your comment just above.

Jay James

16:37 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "14/08/2013 - 11:14":

ro1: where there is no apparent contract, and so long as the landlord is resident; the tenant is not a tenant and has no right to stay for any period of time. Where there is a discernible contract (written or not) then it's terms must be adhered to by both parties. If the contract does not cover the matter of length of stay, then the lodger has no right to stay for any length of time. Indeed, the resident landlord has only to act reasonably when requiring a lodger to leave. This can be used for example to get rid of a violent lodger at five minutes notice instead of having to go through months of court hearings with tenants.

andrew townshend

19:16 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

i have a single man in a 2 bed house, h/b paid direct to me, he has to top this up, he has a lodger, anything he makes in excess of the top up is his, works well, live and let live.

r01

19:55 PM, 14th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jay Jay" at "14/08/2013 - 16:37":

Yes, but a written licence making it quite clear they are simply a lodger with no right to stay could well overcome the tenant inviting a "tasty" lodger, falling in love, falling out of love, walking out and leaving a lodger thinking they have some sort of entitlement to stay rent free.

I'd prefer to have something clearly laying out the rights or lack of them the lodger has.

R

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