I’m evicting tenants but I want to help them

by Readers Question

17:53 PM, 27th November 2012
About 6 years ago

I’m evicting tenants but I want to help them

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I’m evicting tenants but I want to help them

Readers QuestionsI may be the softest landlord on the planet but I am concerned about the well-being of 2 of my tenants who I have to finally evict.  They have lived in the house for many years but are seriously in arrears and don’t seem to have the ability to help themselves.  I have even enlisted Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to sort out their finances but the tenants have not been able to keep to the financial plan agreed.  I am expecting them to be removed by the Bailiff and I honestly believe they don’t have anywhere to go.

My question is; is there any automatic link up between the court and the council or social services to get them into emergency accommodation, assuming that there is any?  Their local council say they no longer have council houses and accommodation is through a housing association, if they have any!

The eviction will be swift and I am not wanting to see them and their furniture dumped in the street but it is looking that way. I would feel a lot happier if I knew they were being re-housed. Perhaps someone knows of  the procedure to get them re-housed.



Comments

18:08 PM, 27th November 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi - a local authority has a duty to provide housing - unless they have intentionally made themselves homeless - which is unlikely to be the case. They may use housing associations to procure their housing, or if full, use hostels or B & B's. You should direct them to the local housing advice centre to pick up their case.

Often these bodies will do nothing until they become homeless. This may explain their current intransigence.

You've probably already considered this - but if they are entitled to housing benefits (1 bed rate), and you were happy to accept this, you could apply for the council to make direct payment to you based upon there being in excess of 2 months arrears.

If you do believe that they are incapable of managing their affairs and need assistance - you may want to consider social services. A social worker can provide support and guidepost assistance if they are deemed in need of help.

Good luck.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

19:18 PM, 27th November 2012
About 6 years ago

There are a lot of questions in there but I will confine myself to just addressing the bottom line.

You dont mention the reason for the arrears. If the tenant approaches the council, they will have to look at the hoary old issue of Intentionality; did the tenant do something, or fail to do something as a result of which they lost their home?

If the answer is yes, then the door will close. If there are children involved they will be taken into care whilst the adult tenants make their own arrangements.

Things like redundancy, ill health, genuine poverty "Should" get them out of an intentionality decision but to be honest it often has to fought against.

Courts-councils-social services? Forget it. They are different worlds. Although social services have a homelessness duty you cant even get social services and homelessness units to share information. Dont look at the council as a single unit. They are made up of different directorates with different budgets and legal requirements.

Courts-homelessness units-social services all operate under different regulations and remits, they dont connect up.

And yep. Council have little accommodation. Its all been sold off through the right to buy. The new homelessness suitability order (Novemeber 9th) means that anyone in England approaching a council homelessness unit for assistance will just get placed with another private landlord, as long as the rent is affordable. If it isnt then the council will have to trawl around to find an area where the rent is affordable, thats why London tenants are being punted out to Bradford, Hull etc

Adam Zeeblebum

23:28 PM, 27th November 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi

It's quite hard at the moment to know what to suggest, as it will very much depend on the household's specific circumstances and also the services that the local authority has available. With that in mind, I have a few questions:

- Does the household consist of two adults who are a couple, or two adults living together but not in a relationship? Are there any other people living in the property, particularly any children?

- Would you consider anyone in the household to be 'vulnerable' or have support needs? The sorts of things I mean relate to health/disability, substance use, a history of offending, ex-armed forces, pregnancy, old age, previously been in care as a young person.

- Other than non-payment of rent, have there been any other problems with their conduct as tenants?

- Have they provided any sort of explanation for why they have not been paying the rent?

- Do you know what their income is - if they are working and/or claiming benefits? Is any of their rent currently paid for by Local Housing Allowance, and - if it is - do you already have it paid to you directly?

- You say that they have lived in the house for many years. Have there always been problems with their paying rent? Or is a more recent problem? If it is more recent, do you know if there was a specific event in their lives that might have triggered the problem?

- Prior to their moving into your property, were you aware of any problems they might have had in any previous tenancies?

- How far down the eviction/seeking possession road are you?

- And one final question - it's not vital although the answer might help in being able to provide more specific advice - would you mind saying which local authority area the property is in?

Erm...I think that's all. :o)

Oh...finally, just on your specific question about links between the court and the Council - I think it's unlikely, and certainly not something you could rely on.

Adam

Reader

0:30 AM, 28th November 2012
About 6 years ago

My local council have a support officer at the county court to help on both keeping their existing property and rehousing where necessary. I have dealt with a major citys officer and one from a small council BUT ALWAYS before the hearing date by speaking to them via their offices. The advantage to you is it might prevent a postponement of the hearing and eviction and the advantage to them it might resolve the cause of their problems.

1:34 AM, 28th November 2012
About 6 years ago

You're a LL mate, not a philanthropist!

When you have made your millions then you can decide to be a philanthropist!

All people have issues.

You cannot undertake other people's responsibilities.

Your duties are to provide decent accommodation for a market rent and NO more.

Do not involve yourself in other people's lives.

Yes it is unfortunate this couple appear to be dysfunctional.

That is their problem, not yours.

The mere fact that they have not passed the rent onto you should be sufficient for you not to be involved with them anymore.

Get rid of them and move on.

They have no consideration to the problems they have are causing you due to non-rent payment.

You have no duty of care to ANY tenant who chooses not to pay you for the service you are providing.

These people if they were as good thinking as you should have vacated the property as SOON as they could not afford it or decided NOT to pay you for the service but spend their LHA on other things.

Toughen up and remember the BUSINESS you are in, YOU are NOT a registered charity, so stop behaving like one.

Have some consideration for tenants who are desperate to find accommodation and have the money to pay for and can't have yours because you are being touchy- feely about 2 not rent paying tenants.

13:26 PM, 28th November 2012
About 6 years ago

This is landlord is not the only one who feels sympathy for struggling tenants. I think it will depend how this situation has occurred, whether they would get any help from the Council. But - no, there is not an established link between court and council - if they are removed by a Bailiff, they would have to then apply to the council as homeless. At that point, they would go through the homeless legislation - they are not entitled to priority with the council if they are not vulnerable (have children or a physical or medical disability would be the norms) or if they are classed as intentionally homeless - in my authority, being evicted for rent arrears would usually mean they were not eligible for support. Many authorities now count on the private sector to provide accommodation for the homeless.
At that point, maybe CAP can help, by helping them access bond schemes etc. so they can access private sector accommodation

David Dennis

14:51 PM, 28th November 2012
About 6 years ago

To answer the questions from 'Zeeblebum' I list
them as follows:

1. The tenants are adult man and lady not
married. There are no children or any others in the house.

2. They are not vulnerable as such.. just
a bit slow to help themselves.

3. Apart from the rent arrears there have
been no other problems.

4. They have low income. A recent
increase in child maintenance payments taken at source from his wages
seem to have tipped them over the edge. The fact they he doesn't drive has made
it harder for him to seek other jobs.

5. Christians Against Poverty (CAP) give
their income as £1220 per month plus £429 p.m. Employment and Support allowance. They are both working and I do not receive any LHA
although I did at one point when he wasn't working. They have other
debts and the child support increase seems to have caused them to
stop paying their rent.

6. I bought the house with the tenants
in. They paid the rent without problems for 18 months and then when they fell
behind, it transpired that they had been topping up their rent with their
savings, which had now run out.

7. The current eviction stage is that
they were served Section 21 and Section 8 Notices last year and we did
not enforce either as we were trying to help them by giving them more time
to reduce their arrears. We are now able to go for the accellerated procedure
followed by a bailiff, if they don't vacate. We will not go for the Court
hearing to get their arrears paid, because they have no money.

8. The Local authority is in Wales:
Blaenau Gwent.

I hope this gives a better picture.

23:46 PM, 28th November 2012
About 6 years ago

Re: Evicting tenants but want to help them :

people end up in these situations for a variety of reasons, odd as it may seem. It may be helpful to check out the advice/links at Crisis, see http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/get-accommodation.html

Pete Judd

21:40 PM, 29th November 2012
About 6 years ago

I sympathise with you as have just done the same thing and suffered pangs of concience even though the guy owed me thousands and I had given him opportunity after opportunity to find somewhere after the court case. I'm surprised at other answers as the bailiff told me the council homeless unit would have to find him somewhere even if it was only B&B in the short term. In fact the police had to be called because he refused to leave and they repeatedly offered to take him there. The bailiff gave him a form which said he had been evicted and the time and date. He said if he showed this to the council they would have to act. I understand from your article that there will be furniture to be removed and this poses another problem. I was told by the bailiff that if I wanted to relet the place I would have to store this securely at my own expense until he could remove it. I was lucky as the ex-tenant managed to find a friend to come and take it away the same week.
I did have another case a few years ago. The couple were expecting and wanted the council to find them a flat so they stopped paying the rent. I gave them notice and they told me they would not move and to take them to court. We went through the process and they refused to move as the council told them if they did so they would be making themselves deliberatly homeless and so could not be helped. We went through everything at my expense and on the day they were to be evicted the council found them a flat.

Adam Zeeblebum

6:13 AM, 30th November 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi Dennis

I think this is a tricky one. It's hard to say what level of support the Council's homelessness service might offer, if they approached them now.

All of what I'm about to suggest is based on your tenants getting advice right now, instead of waiting until they are evicted.

The Council would want evidence of 'homelessness' or 'threat of homelessness'. You could help with this by making sure that they still have copies of any notices you have already served them with, any court documents, a copy of the tenancy agreement, and copies of any documents relating to tenancy deposit protection (depending on what date the tenancy started). I'm sure you have already provided all of that, but from what you've said about the tenants it seems like there might be a good chance that they have 'misplaced' them.

If the eviction will (or is likely to) take place within 28 days, and they provide evidence of this, the household will be considered 'threatened with homelessness'. If it's going to be longer than 28 days...hmmm...well...some Councils will be grateful for the early approach and for the extra time to deal with the application and to attempt some 'homelessness prevention', and also to work on getting the applicants 'tenancy-ready' so they can move into alternative accommodation (and this 'tenancy-readiness' certainly sounds like something that these tenants need some help with). Others...ahem...not so much - they might be sent packing, and told to return when they are within the 28 days.

If the Council accepts that they are 'threatened with homelessness', well that at least gets them through the door, and places a duty on the Council to provide them with 'advice and assistance'. Unfortunately, that duty is interpreted very loosely, and in some cases will actually amount to very little.

I've just read through what I've already typed - this is turning into a long post. I was going to go on to talk in depth about the various scenarios that may arise from considering 'priority need/vulnerability' and 'intentional homelessness', but I think instead I'll try to keep it brief, since there is very little that I could say in the way of definitive answers.

Based on what you've said, the likelihood is that the Council will consider the household not to be in priority need. However, there are a couple of arguable points in there (the ESA claim and the inability to manage a tenancy) that point to a possible priority need.

If they are accepted as 'in priority need', the chances are that the Council will deem them as 'intentionally homeless'. However, again, there are a couple of indications that this decision might not be so straightforward, if it is argued correctly from the tenants' point of view.

So...my feeling is that the upshot of all of this is that they need some independent specialist housing advice, in advance of approaching the Council. That advice service would then be able to support them with their approach to the Council, including - if appropriate - making a formal request for a homelessness application, and also advocating for the tenants on their behalf.

I've searched this site - http://www.homelessuk.org - for services in your area. The two best options, I think, are:

Abergavenny, Crickhowell and District CAB
http://www.homelessuk.org/details.asp?id=UK7026

Shelter Cymru - Cardiff Office
http://www.homelessuk.org/details.asp?id=UK31226

Based on what you've said, I think that's the best way forward for your tenants at the moment.

The other thing that it might be useful for them to start doing is sounding out any friends/family they might have in the area, to see if there is anyone they might be able to stay with temporarily.

I hope that helps. I think what you're doing in thinking about this is fantastic. The next stage, I guess, is for the tenants themselves to start taking some responsibility for the situation they are in.

Happy to answer any more questions you might have.

Adam

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