Why didn’t Shelter find somewhere for Stephen?

by Appalled Landlord

13:40 PM, 1st September 2018
About A year 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?



21:01 PM, 3rd September 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 03/09/2018 - 16:39
But......responsibility doesn't arrive at 30 or 40 or 50 years of age . It arrives between the age of 17-26. ( I can quote multiple case studies ) . After that you have missed the bus and there is no other bus. End of. You just don't have it in you. The maturation process is complete. You either have it in you or you don't.
Furthermore this is NOT the tenants money. It is TAX PAYERS money and it should be ring fenced and locked in for the purpose it was allocated for. The government is encouraging HB tenants to act in the same reckless way they act with any public funds. There is an issue of attitude of irresponsibility - for f*** sake if you went to Eton, Harrow, Oxford, bloody Cambridge, Dulwich College , LSE... and you can't manage the public purse how do you expect an ordinary average joe on a limited budget to manage ? It seems the further up the tree you go, the thicker the foliage !

Mike T

22:16 PM, 3rd September 2018
About A year ago

So well put AA. There are times when you just cannot understand that 'they' can be so blind. But, I am reminded of the saying : "There are non so blind as those who do not want to see"

Mick Roberts

6:49 AM, 4th September 2018
About A year ago

AA. If u can find these studies evidence, why aren't the Govt taking notice. Oh that's it, they not bothered if tenant spends taxpayers money and becomes homeless. Let's not worry about that eh.
As u say, the tenant just doesn't have it in em.
I have lots that ain't disabled, but they just ain't employable. They get everything wrong. Basic tasks. Yet the Govt wants to hand em money willy nilly to become responsible for their own accommodation.


7:45 AM, 4th September 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 04/09/2018 - 06:49
This serve two purposes for the Government:
1. the "hostile" environment for private Landlords (along with 3%SDLT, sec.24 , Right-to-Rent, Licensing, Tenant Fees ban, etc, etc);
2. the "hostile" environment for benefit claimants. The Government want to get people off benefits, using Landlords as a weapon against them.

Bristol Landlord

16:51 PM, 8th September 2018
About A year ago

Here’s a basic question I have struggled with for quite some time and relates to the current PRS and Universal Credit chaos.
Is the UK Government incompetent or just plain evil?
I ask because it’s clear the Government constantly messes things up like UC benefits, housing, NHS, transport etc etc, is it because they are just too stupid to understand the outcomes of their own policies or is it that they have a cunning plan and deliberately want to mess up the country in support of a hidden agenda?
I’m starting to think the plan is to kill as many people as possible, starting with the poor but later moving on to the middle classes, by making life so miserable they kill themselves out of sheer desperation, then they don’t have to pay out so many benefits to the needy and can instead give out nice government contracts and tax cuts to their wealthy bizznessmen pals.

Richard Oakman

22:15 PM, 8th September 2018
About A year ago

I think we need rather more basic housing as the rents needed to mainain a property under the current regulations, centrally heated and furnished with white goods etc, even with a cheap mortgage, are quite high. Thus we have restricted Housing benefit and other controls and, I agree the worst of scenarios, rent paid directly to the claimant. I remember dealing with Fair Rented properties in the 1980s many of which had no bathroom and certainly no fitted kitchen or furniture! These would not be easy to let nowadays but there must be a need for slightly more basic accommodation. There is really no excuse, after all these years, for inefficiency in the payment of benefits - we just need more experienced staff! I am enjoying my retirement!

Old Mrs Landlord

23:56 PM, 8th September 2018
About A year ago

In reply to Bristol Landlord: I favour cock-up theory over conspiracy theory myself. Ministerial changes are so frequent no one person has the time to fully understand the status quo never mind the possible ramifications and wider effects of proposed measures before being pressed to take action in order to appease the vociferous Generation Rent, Acorn, Shelter and now even Citizens' Advice and the Archbshop of Canterbury, in a bid to garner votes.
In reply to Richard Oakman: Unfortunately the sort of houses you describe and in which we happily spent our youth would now be unlettable, categorized as "non-habitable". Any landord letting out such properties without what are now considered basic amenities would be liable to prosecution. Time's moved on, this is the 21st century and standards have changed don'tcha know? Today's millennials have never woken to Jack Frost's beautiful patterns on the inside panes of their bedroom window prior to dashing down the garden to the lavatory or, in summer, found it necessary to keep their milk in a bucket of water in the coldest place in the house. They therefore expect all mod. cons. but don't realise and/or don't want to pay the cost of supplying and maintaining them. With regard to the payment of benefits and the need for more experienced staff, well unfortunately all the experienced staff are at the council offices but the introduction of Universal Credit didn't only totally change the system, it also moved its administration to the Department for Work and Pensions whose staff had zero experience, with the predictable consequences we are now seeing. As Mick Roberts says, even his dog could tell them where they are going wrong.
Glad you're enjoying your retirement Richard.

Mick Roberts

6:13 AM, 9th September 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Bristol Resident at 08/09/2018 - 16:51
You have the conspiracy theory people saying the Govt's secret plan to get people off benefits.
But I seriously reckon they just plain stupid with no common sense. The Govt people are intelligent in what they've done at college etc. to get where they are, but dealing with normal common people, some of 'em not got a clue what happens on ground level.
It's the same with some council staff that have never lived among these communities or had them as friends.
I've got some mates who will never buy a house who are earning good money 'cause that part of their brain is not wired right.
Govt don't get that everyone is different.

The Govt always mess up, hence that's why they're always on the news. You pay peanuts for someone to run this massive business ie the Country, u get peanuts.
Alan Sugar & Richard Branson wun't run this big business on PM's salary, so we get poor service, we get people who just want votes to stay in power.

Very good words Old Mrs.

Luke P

9:44 AM, 9th September 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 09/09/2018 - 06:13
Same at local level, Mick…myself and/or any of my LL or business friends could run the Council, but it doesn’t pay enough to give up whatever it is we’re all currently doing, so you get idiots. It’s worse when you’re not in a city because the pool of (no-hope) candidates to chose from is of lower quality because nobody with anything resembling talent wants to live/work in Grimsby…mainly because there’s literally nothing going on here - we cannot even support national chains, be that cinemas, restaurants, branded shops etc.

Mick Roberts

15:05 PM, 9th September 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 09/09/2018 - 09:44Perfect Luke, spot on.
What gets annoying is, just come & ask us. Say what do u think?

Things I've suggested in Nottingham to Licensing, they've just scoffed at. 3 months later, they've done some of the things I've suggested 'cause it wasn't working the way they was going.

Same as HB as u know, when LHA was bought in 2008, we knew it wouldn't work in current format, took the councils 4 years to get more relaxed about paying Landlord, so tenants wouldn't get kicked out.

But why take 4 years of so many homeless? Not one person should have been made homeless.
Same with UC. All these people should not be made homeless cause Govt is obsessed with paying tenant direct the part that is supposed to be for rent anyway. Why give someone with little money so much temptation? It's baffling.

I mention it to mates & they say you what? Why pay 'em the money when it's for rent anyway? They not even in the industry & they know the answer.

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