Why didn’t Shelter find somewhere for Stephen?

by Appalled Landlord

13:40 PM, 1st September 2018
About 2 months ago

Why didn’t Shelter find somewhere for Stephen?

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Why didn’t Shelter find somewhere for Stephen?

Shelter’s campaign with Rosie featured in a BBC News article back in February.  I quoted this at length, and linked to it, last week: Click Here

Today I looked at the comments that had been put under the BBC’s article.

The only comment from a landlord was by Frank from Stratford-Upon-Avon who said:

“Housing Benefit is just that. For Housing. Landlords would accept benefit tenants if rent was paid directly to Landlords with a guarantee that it would start at the beginning of a tenancy and be guaranteed to continue. The reality is that once a tenant is in a property, the assessments can take many weeks. The slightest error by a tenant means the application has to start again, meaning 6-8 weeks delay. The Council isn’t concerned as the applicant isn’t homeless. This is the reality, while of course a Landlord still has to pay his mortgage. I just get tired of the ill informed comments by Shelter. How many properties to HB tenants do they rent out? How many properties do they rent to anyone? Millions in income. So why don’t they put their income to good use, and help solve the problem. Yes, there are bad Landlords, but the vast majority are good, and wish for good, long term tenants. Conversely, there are good HB tenants, but equally others who are not.”

Another of the comments may have prompted David Orr’s ludicrous remark trying to blacken the name of the PRS Click Here

It was by Sheila from the Isle of Wight: The stipulation “no HB, Children or Pets” was appended to most of the rental properties on offer. It reminded me of London in the 50s and 60s.”  She mentioned two categories, but not  dogs.

However, this one jumped out at me, by Stephen from Birmingham, who said:“I am a wheelchair user and any property I phone up and tell them this and I’m on housing benefits it’s a straight no not even considered. I arranged a viewing at a house in Risinghurst, Oxford and got as far as signing documents. Landlord was happy to be housing a mother and two children (as well as the family dog), but as soon as I mentioned housing benefits paying a small fraction of the cost, the entire agreement shut down and the agent became frustrated that I hadn’t told her prior to viewing.”

He has a lot in common with Stephen Tyler from Birmingham who appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire programme last month:: Click Here

If they are one and the same, two questions arise.  If he was willing to move 77 miles or so to Risinghurst, why did he make a big thing of Birmingham City Council offering a property that was 90 miles away?

Stephen Tyler did not say on Victoria Derbyshire’s programme that he told agents about the wheelchair, just that he was on “DSS”, but if in fact he also told them about the wheelchair, that is likely to be as much of an obstacle to finding a property as being on HB, if not more so.

Towards the end of the discussion, Victoria said to Greg Beales, Director of Communication for Shelter “What advice would you give to Stephen, who, astonishingly, is having to sleep in his car because no-one will take him?”.  Beales said “Well, we can’t go on like this, so we are hoping we can help Stephen in his particular situation”.  He did not say how, and quickly changed the subject.  It seemed very much like an impromptu remark, as if he hadn’t expected to give Stephen advice.  Stephen was there to help Shelter, after all.  It’s not Beales’s job to advise the indigent – that’s what all the underlings are for.  So, although he is a qualified spin-doctor, all he could come up with at short notice was vague hope.

Why hasn’t Shelter helped Stephen already?  Is it because everyone has to take part in Shelter’s propaganda war against the PRS to qualify for the charity’s help now?

Don’t hold your breath Stephen, or rely on pious hope. Rosie Keogh is still in her damp house after Shelter helped her. Click Here

I have some more advice, Stephen, if I may be so bold.  If your HB is just a small fraction of the rent, why not give it up and look for somewhere fractionally cheaper than a property near Oxford, which is a property hot-spot.  You might then find that all doors are open to you in the Birmingham area, and you could get your family back together again near your partner’s family.  You could even make up the HB element perhaps by getting a little job in your second favourite career.

If anyone is wondering why Birmingham City Council doesn’t house Stephen, Shelter has a web page about a local authority’s responsibility for housing the homeless, called “Longer term housing when homeless”: Click Here

It includes the following snippets:

“You won’t qualify for the main housing duty if you refuse a final housing offer while you’re getting help under your personal housing plan.”

“It’s almost always better to accept an offer of housing. You can ask for a review if you think it’s unsuitable.”

“Location of the accommodation: The council must consider your personal circumstances including travel time to work, disruption to children’s education, caring responsibilities and support networks in the area.”

“Accept the housing offer and ask for a review”

“Housing and legal advisers usually advise that it is not a good idea to turn down an offer of housing.

The council can end your temporary accommodation if you refuse a suitable:

  • offer of a tenancy with a private landlord
  • final offer of a council or housing association home
  • offer of alternative temporary accommodation

The council does not have to provide you with any further accommodation if your review request is unsuccessful.

You can make a new homeless application but the council will probably decide that you’re intentionally homeless.

Plenty of advice there.  Although disabled, Stephen is not even being given temporary accommodation.  Could it be that Stephen refused a final offer from BCC, thus making himself intentionally homeless, but Shelter sees this as an opportunity to blame the PRS for his situation?

If that is what happened there would be no point in suing the BCC, so Shelter’s forthcoming series of test cases will be aimed exclusively at agents and landlords.  If they do succeed in setting precedents it will be a victory without gain.  It will not produce a single extra property for an HB claimant that was not there before, because of the well-known problems with HB (which will be made worse when UC indeed becomes universal). In addition Section 24, which was supported by Shelter, has prompted landlords to decant HB claimants because the latter can’t afford the increase in rent that is required for landlords to be able to pay the levy on mortgage interest to HMRC, a rent increase which leaves the landlords themselves no better off. Click Here

If you must lobby, Shelter, there is plenty for you to get your teeth into there.  However, with this discrimination malarkey you are making the situation worse by antagonising landlords, the very people who are needed to house the poorest members of society.  By distorting the results of your own survey you are destroying your credibility. Is this what people donated their hard-earned money for?



Comments

AA

13:44 PM, 2nd September 2018
About 2 months ago

If it comes to we can no longer have " NO DSS" on the advert or policy of offering a tenancy, my wording will be " those that cannot maintain a marital relationship need not apply" or "only those that make a net tax contribution to HMRC need apply". No discrimination there whatsoever. These are performance benchmarks.

Old Mrs Landlord

16:37 PM, 2nd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 02/09/2018 - 13:44
When the local newspaper banned this wording in adverts. from individual private landlords, people began adding the words "employer's reference required" or similar. The ban apparently did not apply to the estate agents who bought full pages of space every week, as those continued to be littered with the wording "No DSS" or "No HB", so no discrimination there obviously! Of course requiring an employer's reference discriminates against the self employed but that didn't seem to matter.

AA

21:57 PM, 2nd September 2018
About 2 months ago

"Applicants must pass our stress test" - completely non discriminatory. Who can argue with that?
Maybe there is a government conspiracy to keep a class of population under perpetual stress and keep them subdued. How else would anyone explain the dubious current HB system and forthcoming UC.
Put this way HB entitled individuals have to approach a landlord on the strength of they may qualify for HB, the LL has to offer the applicant accommodation and expect to be paid in 6 to 8 weeks time and if there is no entitlement it would take the LL 8 to 10 months to evict.. With a process like that I am flummoxed why every LL is not embracing this sector.
The HB applicant does not come with an "IOU" it's a " I might IOU" based on " I might get the benefit and if I do you better hope I don't spend it somewhere else". And after all that LL s have the audacity to not to consider HB tenants.

Gromit

22:24 PM, 2nd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 02/09/2018 - 21:57Not forgetting that the LL has to repay any HB received if subsequently the Tenants claim is found to be fraudulent. Ans also theee is the possibility that the Tenant could be sanctioned.

Mick Roberts

10:15 AM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Brilliant words.
I'm still waiting for Shelter to come talk to me & ASK ME WHY I am not longer taking HB.
After 20 years of taking homeless HB, I WANT TO TAKE HB, but I can't take HB because of the onerous rules & rigmarole & over regulation & the main fact is, I have a mortgage, rent needs to come in to pay mortgage & outgoings & repairs & new boiler etc., but the Govt & Universal Credit, well it just won't pay 'the rent'. It decides to stop, if u even get it started, it penalises the tenant for being 10 mins late to Job Centre. They don't say Naughty Boy for being 10mins late, they say we sanctioning u. And you losing £50 of this weeks money, whereas better off working person would lose the 10mins pay.

So Shelter for the 98th time, come & ask why I/We won't can't take HB. The solution is so so easy. Pay the Ruddy Landlord the Housing element direct. As said above the word HOUSING, does that ring a bell? That's what it's mean't for HOUSING YOU THICK NINCOMPOOPS.

None of my tenants are leaving me at all through natural wastage cause they can't get anywhere cause of all this over-regulation.
I have loads asking to come to me and they all saying the same, they can't get anywhere cause Landlords selling cause of over-regulation.
I've put about 40 rents up in the past two months. Had no choice. Most are grateful I've only done it by small amount as the tenants are wising up to this through social media and know that some Landlords are increasing rents by £80 pm and others selling.
It's a a fact the shortage now and in next few years will be down to over regulation.
Landlords also only picking the cream cleanest poshest letting agent checks tenant's who won't fall foul of the ridiculous Universal Credit rules.

There's load of issues like we need more Council houses which can't be solved quick, Universal Credit paying tenant direct which can be solved quick by the Govt, but the Govt won't listen to Housing Benefit who's been doing it for 20 years.
The Benefit cap which is penalising tenants that's lived in same house for years no problems.

These are easily solvable.

AA, very good words: I might get the benefit and if I do you better hope I don't spend it somewhere else.

Worthy

11:09 AM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 02/09/2018 - 21:57
I agree with all you say ontop of which is the cost of rent guarantee insurance which costs up to 5 x the premium for a HB tenant with no guarantor vs the premium required for a non HB tenant, plus buildings insurance premiums with some insurers costs more if a HB tenant and one can also be in breach of one's mortgage terms and conditions.

AA

16:24 PM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

A current puzzlement - what has an HB tenant go to do with how the LL gets paid?
You have the LA ( the obligator - they have to legally provide shelter and if they don't have their own stock they have to outsource it). You have the PRS, the outsourced supplier. The contract is between the obligator and the service provider and not between the dependant and LL . For example when LA s house people in B and B s they don't give the money to the tenant. The contract is between the LA and B and B. So why is it the LL is bypassed in a longer term tenancy. It all smells of a conspiracy to me.

Mick Roberts

16:39 PM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 03/09/2018 - 16:24Cause this clever Govt wants the tenant to become more responsible for money, forgetting that everyone is different & not thinking these HB tenants aren't toff's from Eton who can ask Mum Dad for money.
So they handing hundreds every month (which is supposed to be for housing) to tenant & saying you have all this money & at the grand old age of 37, u will become brilliant with money & save & budget etc.
Except (even more so when they get sanctioned), the tenant has bills come & not enough to pay them, but he she has this juicy £500 'rent' money sitting there that UC has paid him & temptation gets the better.
I had gal who gets £317 JSA I think. + £395 Housing Element HE (rent).
UC capped her JSA for 156 days for missing appointment, but they still paid her £395 HE.
I spoke to UC about this when she din't pay her rent. I said What do you really think she is going to do with that £395 HE when she HAS NO OTHER MONEY? UC man says it's for rent, she has to give it u. I say Yeah she needs food, gas, electric etc. She has no money cause you've sanctioned her, yet u give her MY £395 RENT. Wake up smell the coffee.
If u save when u 7, u save when u 37. U can't automatically teach someone at age 37 to change a lifetime of habits. That's what welfare is there for, safety net. UC has took away this safety net.

Ooh & they made this SAME mistake with LHA in 2008 paying tenant direct, & HB LHA learn't their lesson in 2012, yet UC is ignoring their own colleagues & history. And facts.

Luke P

16:47 PM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 03/09/2018 - 16:39
The financial discipline element is misunderstood or down-played by Councils/Gov.

If you have literally no money and need some for something (and it's desperate), you have to ask someone...whether that be family/friends or a lender of sorts, but either way it requires you to have, to varying degrees, an awkward conversation as well as the risk of refusal (not to mention you have to take time out of your day to do that).

However, if you have your rent money sat in the bank...even if you know you're not really meant to spend it, the option *is* still there for you to 'borrow' it. No awkward conversations, no refusals, no time/effort needed.

This is the problem. Add temptation into that mix (especially those with kids at Xmas) and you have a disaster recipe.

Mick Roberts

16:51 PM, 3rd September 2018
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 03/09/2018 - 16:47Exactly Luke. We know being HB landlords that Xmas is the worst & our rent or some of our rent has been spent on kids trainers.
This gal of mine that spent the £395 HE, I had to laugh. She been with me approx. 15 years. Never been in debt. Now on UC, in debt.
She always used to answer phone to me, she then stopped answering the phone to me.
And I cheekily admired her for spending the HE money as what else is she supposed to do with no food in? This Govt proper & I MEAN PROPER THICK!!! With FOUR exclamation marks.

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