Marriage break up and loss of job will turn into DSS tenancy

by Readers Question

10:37 AM, 28th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Marriage break up and loss of job will turn into DSS tenancy

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Marriage break up and loss of job will turn into DSS tenancy

Tricky situation: I have a sole 3 bed BTL property and have a really nice family in it who both worked. I learned last month that the wife was to lose her job so there would be only one wage earner. She was looking for work.marraige

I did my 6 month inspection 2 days ago and the house is in immaculate condition.

I then learned yesterday that the wife has had enough of her husband has asked him to leave. He has already applied for a flat. She has applied to the DSS for rent assistance.

The rent is £600 and she will get about £470. No notices to quit have been received yet and the wife is asking if she can stay on with her 2 children.

Serious dilemma…
She is a good tenant and looks after the place but if I agree to her staying she says she will need new tenancy agreement for the DSS. I don’t do DSS!?

If it transpires that she can’t afford the rent then will I have the DSS telling her to stay till the day I evict her.

Or: I ask her to leave now she could run out of money while serving notice and then it could get really tricky. Will the DSS pay her some rent while she looks for another place?

Or: If I don’t agree to a new tenancy agreement will she receive any DSS money and then obviously default if she doesn’t.

What happens about the deposit?
Could she get a lodger?
Too many questions???

I had also been discussing with them the potential for rent rises when the government change the rules on tax relief! No chance of that now he is leaving.

Any advice would be welcome

John



Comments

Jerry Stone

14:08 PM, 28th January 2016
About 3 years ago

The first issue is that even though the husband has left the property they are jointly and severally liable. This means that for the time of the tenancy the husband is still liable and could be pursued.
It is housing benefit not D.S.S. you in fact do not actually need to provide a new tenancy.
This is an administrative issue. You could write them a letter stating that as far as you are aware that she is the only one living there.
You are not obliged to issue a tenancy agreement.
It is always a difficult scenario. I have been through this one.
In most circumstances then any benefits will be paid directly to your tenant. I would normally keep it that way then if for any reason there is an overpayment the claw back is down to them not you.
I understand the quandary about them staying there after you give them an eviction notice they are likely too, You are also likely to have a void period after they leave. Then you have the risk of a new tenant as well.
I have always taken the view that a good and loyal tenant is worth hanging on to and working with.
My longest tenancy has been with me for 15 years and I have a number who have been with me for 10 years plus. She sounds like a great tenant who is probably worth holding on to.
Sometimes a little short term pain is worth it in the long run and she is very likely to be loyal to you in the future. Sounds like she is looking for a job.
I would also remind the husband that he is liable to.
Hope this helps.
I have been a landlord for 15 years and previously worked as a housing benefit fraud investigator.

John Dixon

14:35 PM, 28th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Jerry Stone.
Thank you for your very valuable observations!
If the husband quits in writing how would that change the situation?
What happens to the deposit if he quits in writing?
Thank you.

Jay James

20:24 PM, 28th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Dixon" at "28/01/2016 - 14:35":

For goodness sake, dont play with even the risk of (DSS) fire. get them out ASAP

John Dixon

20:45 PM, 28th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Jay James, you sound like you have experience of Housing Benefit Tenants?

Mike

3:37 AM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Once her husband leaves or has left, she becomes a single parent, then there is quite likely that he might visit her frequently as old flames die slow, or she might start a new life with a new partner or someone she meets and he lodges with her, and as soon as the authorities find that out, they will claw back money she was awarded from her, depriving you of any rent. I have been in this situation twice so i will never take any HB tenants on now, and I suppose when every landlord starts to discriminate like this the Government will probably bring in a new law to add to 10 million laws already there in favour of tenants.

I would say if you want to give her a chance, then make it clear with her that the minute she fails to pay you rent, you will serve her a section 21 notice as she has already been there longer than 6 months and on to a rolling tenancy (periodic)

Also make more frequent visits and if you see anything unusual like if you think someone else is living there, mans clothes , tell tale signs of paying lodger, or she brings in a fellow, ask him to get out or else you will serve her a notice. All that can effect her ability to get HB and she will only not pay you yet she will not compromise on her other spending and holidays!

Man and Van Europe

4:57 AM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

That's a sad situation that a lot of people fall into I think it would be better if she left but when your a man you normally do the right thing and let the wife stay with the kids.

Jonathan Clarke

5:09 AM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

I`ve dealt with HB tenants and working tenants for 16 years. Always look at the person before the source of where their rent comes from .She is a good tenant and if she can afford the top up to the HB entitlement then keep her and juggle the admin. Get the ex to sign a surrender document if he will. Write her a new tenancy

These life changes happen all the time so its not something that is new to the system just new to you. Ive had this situations numerous times its just an occupational hazard with any tenancy.

Tenant selection is the key to a good tenancy. She is a good tenant so just work with her to resolve the admin

We are all potentially 24 hrs away from losing a job and becoming an HB tenant. We are also 24hrs away from securing a job and coming off HB

A tenants personality does not change overnight when that happens...Keep her
.

Mark Alexander

7:25 AM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

For your own sake, and hers, my recommendation is you treat this as though the tenancy is ending. If hubby is moving out then he must serve notice. Once one joint tenant serves notice this binds the other.

You then need to treat the wife as a new tenant. Clearly she's going to claim benefits and that is going to affect your insurance premiums so bear that in mind. The fact that you know she's neat and tidy and respects the neighbours is two of my three primary criteria boxes already ticked. The third box is will she (can she) pay the rent on time?

If you treat her like any other new tenant applicant that is fair. Can she find a guarantor of a standard that will allow you to purchase RGI following referencing? If not then you will be accepting a risk that an insurance company wouldn't take on. Can you afford to take such a risk? If not, then the right thing to do to protect yourself is to insist upon her moving out.
.

John Dixon

9:10 AM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

Thank you all for your valuable comments. Unfortunately I am no nearer making a decision as they have been such balanced views from both sides. I will go and have a long chat with her and look at her financial situation as if she were a new tenant. The figures may tell a different story.
I am yet to be convinced that the marriage is over. It all seemed extremely amicable....

Recardo Knights

15:03 PM, 29th January 2016
About 3 years ago

I have been through something similar 7-8 months ago, only difference was the couple were on a periodic as the AST had expired. They were also served a sec 21 at the start of the tenancy, so could be given immediate notice to quit in case of problems. New rules now apply.

In my case the man wanted to leave and the lady wanted to stay on. I got the man to sign a letter stating he wanted to leave and the deposit taken would be left on the property in the ladies name. The lady signed a letter stating that the man had left and she would be the only one on the tenancy, and gave me permission to speak to the council as she would have to claim benefits. No new tenancy was needed.

The couple who had kids were good and I took a chance on her. I do not know if this was legal or signing the letters could be used in court if needed. Someone else may advise.

The HB was signed over to me and the lady paid the top up.

A LL has a duty to inform the council of any change in the tenants circumstances. I see them 3 times a year (90miles away) and do not know of any changes in circumstances, so will be difficult to claim I new she had a boyfriend etc living there if she did not tell me. Notice of a visit ensures no one other than her, friend, mother etc will be there, I do not look in wardrobes or draws, would you?

2 months later the man returned and they are back together, they told the council and I also told the council, and they are still together.

When the man returned I asked if they would like a new 6 month AST, or just carry an as if he never left.

They said it was a mistake and would like to carry on as if he had not left. AGAIN I don't know if this is right, but they are still together and appreciate the fact that I did not evict the lady and kids.

The area I talk about is mostly DHSS and not private renters. I did not have to pay court fees to evict them, council tax on an empty property (100%) letting agent fees, referb, etc.

Can you get your property rented easily in your area to private tenant? Do you risk cost as above, or take a chance on your tenant?

Your choice hope it works out well.

I would also appreciate feed back on what I did, other will come across this problem.

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