How can I help a previously homeless tenant?

by Readers Question

12:01 PM, 8th May 2019
About 6 months ago

How can I help a previously homeless tenant?

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How can I help a previously homeless tenant?

A few months ago I posted regarding my sale to a company who specialised in letting to charities placing homeless people. I was very much taken in by this and found that my tenants in place were given massive rent increases so it was eviction by another name.

I’ve managed to help a few of them (not enough), but moving on from that I’ve now been contacted by the only one left (out of 11) who is being threatened by the new ‘landlord’/owner and told that he will be ‘out in a couple of weeks’. This tenant has nowhere to go, cannot pay the huge increase in rent and his little flat (no more than a room in size but self contained) is being subjected to changes as the new owner takes out the common heating/hot water services and puts in individual so he and the other tenants will have to pay for the services as well as council tax and the increased rent. Irony with this is that settled tenants were made homeless to house the homeless and I could say a lot more.

He rang me yesterday being very brave, he does have challenges in his life. I had him for a tenant for 10 years and we saw a lot through together, but now I’m quite fearful if he is ousted by this Rachman character he cannot afford another place. Oddly I don’t know who he turns to. I’ve suggested Environment Health as his radiators have been ripped out while he is occupying the place, likewise new electrics and other works being done round him and also the workmen are entering without notice or consent. He works shifts so generally in sleeping daytime.

I’ve told him to get down to the council offices, but still really at a loss to get him immediate help. Anyone out there who know where he can go as a first port of call for help and action to stop this and stop him ending up on the streets? I’ve even spoken to the ‘charity’ who were unaware of the actions of the landlord (so they say) but they only supply the ‘tenants/clients’ who then pay rent via benefits. Loads more to this, but I need to concentrate on helping this old tenant of mine.

The new owner has already threatened me with ‘libel’ because I copied the estate agent in to an email to him where I told him what I thought of his ‘business plan’ which is essentially making people homeless to house the homeless as they pay more rent via the benefit system – he’s a nasty piece of work – however whilst I can’t let him get away with this my priority is more to help the tenant at this stage.

Many thanks

Elizabeth



Comments

Paul Shears

12:10 PM, 10th May 2019
About 5 months ago

I'm very sorry indeed to hear of your isolated moral concern. It has been an increasing problem in this supposedly first world country which is dripping in wealth.

Rob Crawford

12:42 PM, 10th May 2019
About 5 months ago

Hi Elizabeth, you have probably done all you can. What you may think of as unfair maybe perfectly reasonable to another landlord. Did you rent the property previously below market rate? Did the rent take into account the recently announced legislation and taxes that increase a landlords overhead? I think the most you can do is advise the tenant to go to the Council and to ensure he is being treated fairly, to get legal advise from CAB. You have sold the property and need to let go (difficult as it may seem).

Harlequin Garden

12:46 PM, 10th May 2019
About 5 months ago

I'm hoping that I'm not in isolation here but the dearth of responses may mean sadly I am. I feel I have a responsibility to help where I can - I'm fortunate enough to have a home and have given homes to my family, the very least I can do is to continue to help someone I've helped out for 10 years - just because I am not his landlord anymore I don't think that morally excuses me and I can move on.

The issue here is as much that we have a disastrous housing policy, if it benefits a landlord to move out tenants, do a bit of an rejig with the facilities - very ugly and not very good - and then move 'homeless' in for twice the rent that that in my opinion is morally wrong - the knock on from this is that those housed here will never be able to move on as they will never earn enough to pay the rent/bills/council tax that it currently being met by housing and other benefits - so they are essentially stuck, and the housing they are stuck in is very low quality - for this money they could actually live somewhere pretty nice. This landlord has no interest in the housing conditions I've no doubt they will just meet the regulations - just collecting the inflated rent - nice if you can live with yourself and he clearly can. I can't.

Robert Mellors

13:51 PM, 10th May 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Harlequin Garden at 10/05/2019 - 12:46
I'm not sure why you think the new landlord will get twice as much rent from his new tenants as he could get from his existing tenants, as the Local Housing Allowance level will be the same. You've already said that the new landlord is not the charity, it is a private landlord, and the charity simply refers people to the new landlord, so this would mean that the new landlord would only get the LHA rate for the tenants. The LHA rate was fixed around 4 years ago and has not increased in line with market rents, so if a private landlord is housing the homeless in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, then he would be getting much less than the "market rent" for the property.

You have already indicated that the new landlord is putting in new electrics and a new central heating system, these are pretty big investments into a property, so again I'm not sure why you are saying that they have no interest in the quality of the accommodation they are offering.

As to the dearth of responses to our post, I have already replied twice and myself and others have given good advice about sources of help, ee.g. council, Shelter, CAB, etc. I would also perhaps refer you to the P118 article which provides advice for tenants facing eviction: https://www.property118.com/best-practice-letter-template-go-eviction-notices/

It is great that you want to help your ex-tenant, but you chose to sell the property to the new owner, and the tenant is no longer your responsibility. By all means point him in the direction of organisations that can advise him further about his situation, but as Rob Crawford has said, you've already done much more than you need to do, it is now for the tenant to act on the advice given, or seek his own advice elsewhere.

AP

8:09 AM, 11th May 2019
About 5 months ago

It’s great that you want to help an old tenant in distress. The best advice will come from the council & charities like Shelter. But unless you are willing to help find the tenant alternative accommodation yourself, there may be little practical that you can actually do unfortunately.

I think whilst you are entitled to have your own opinion on the new landlord’s practices, I think there is a wider picture here.

You mentioned that you sold at a nice profit. Therefore your lower base cost allowed you to charge lower rents. As others have commented, the new owner has already invested more than you before any further works (whether you think those are necessary or not) so for them to make the same as you did they will have to charge more.

I don’t know your circumstances or why you chose or needed to sell. If you are a good responsible landlord with an excellent relationship with your tenants, then the best thing for your tenants is for you to stay being their landlord!

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