Maslow’s Theory Applied to Landlords and Tenants

by Mary Latham

16:42 PM, 30th December 2012
About 8 years ago

Maslow’s Theory Applied to Landlords and Tenants

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Maslow’s Theory Applied to Landlords and Tenants

Maslow Theory Applied to Landlords and TenantsIn the West Midlands we are addressing the issue of educating the young to understand their future housing options, financial obligations and choices. I work on behalf of NLA with a consortium called HOMESTAMP (www.homestamp.com) and we are just coming to the end of a major project to get a module into the national curriculum for 14-16 year olds. Under the subject of Financial Management this module will help to break the cycle for many young people to prevent them becoming the 4th generation of their family to base their lifestyle on “benefits will provide”. This will be a reality check for those who may believe that becoming pregnant will ensure them a “nice little flat off the council”.

All local authorities are becoming more and more reliant on the Professional Rental Sector (PRS) to help them to house their homeless and it is vital that young people are aware that their only future options will be to stay at home, provide their own homes (by renting or buying) or to convince a private landlord that they will be a good tenant. By the time these young people leave education the Universal credit will be in place and there are serious concerns that giving people a “purse of money” will further increase rent arrears, not only for the PRS, but also for local authorities and Registered Social Landlord’s (RSL).  The utility companies will also become victims of those who choose to misuse the money provided to them, from our tax pounds, to keep them safe.

We all learn from what we absorb and young people who are brought up in families where no one gets up in the morning and dashes off to work become accustomed to this life style for them it becomes the norm. It will take some time to re-educate these youngsters that there is another way of living and that the alternative may, in future, be their only option. We need to appeal to the innate desire of each new generation to rebel against the lifestyle of their parents. No one wants to live in a society where we don’t care for those who need our help and financial support but it is in meeting the needs of the needy that we also fall victims to the greedy. I am well aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find work and that withdrawing or reducing benefits alone is not the answer but we must start with motivation, because it is only motivation that will break the cycle. We need to get to the point where young people leave education “knowing” that the next step is to find a way to fund the life that they plan.

Schools need to play a major role in making these youngsters aware of the life that they could have rather than allowing them to become myopic about their future. Parents also need to play a part. Those of us who do work often allow our offspring to open an account at the bank of mum and dad and, while this may be necessary during the years that they are in education, we need to close their accounts one month after they leave education and motivate them to become self supporting and to gain the dignity that comes from paying your own way. It is selfish of us to want to give our kids what we did not have because in doing so we take away from them one important thing that we did have, MOTIVATION. I consider myself fortunate that my parents could not afford to allow me to remain unemployed, I grew up knowing how hard my parents worked to fund our simple lifestyle and I could not wait to earn my own money. I knew what I wanted, I also knew that the only way that I would get that I wanted was to work.

As a tax payer, I welcome the Governments plans to gradually reduce the “dependence” mentality of many people in this country. As a landlord, I do fear that some of these plans may impact on my own income. All landlords are only one redundancy away from a tenant who is on benefits and we all need to position ourselves to ensure that whatever else comes out of that “purse” of universal credit our rent comes out first. ALL Assured Shorthold Tenancy’s (AST) should carry a clear clause that the tenancy is only granted on the basis that if now or at any time in future the tenant needs to claim benefits to help to pay all or part of the rent that rent is paid directly to the landlord. Under new Government guidance issued this year, local authorities should pay the rent directly to the landlord who only grant tenancies based on direct payment, as part of their safeguarding policy. Local authorities were given discretion on this, unfortunately, and it is up to the PRS to ensure that this discretion is exercised in our favour. Landlords should attend all local authorities landlords fora and landlord meetings and be very vocal about the fact that we will not be become part of the welfare state, we will not pay into a system that gives people financial support without protecting our tax pounds by ensuring that the money given is used to keep a roof over the claimants head. We will be taking legal eviction action and pursuing our rent arrears and we will refuse to house those who we fear will not pay for the service that we provide. All these authorities are only too well aware that without the PRS they are in BIG trouble, the day has arrived when they need us more than we need them and it is time that we set out clearly our terms of business.

You will often hear the term “financial inclusion”, what does that mean? It means that no one should be excluded from society because they have a lack of money and I absolutely agree with that. But there are accepted norms in our society and among them is the implicit understanding that goods and services must be paid for. Most of us arrange our finances so that the bills are paid before we spend on other, less important things. Most people use a system of standing orders and direct debits to avoid the temptation to put our desires before our obligations. Financial inclusion in our society means helping those who do not have the skills to manage their finances to follow these “norms”. Many people have poor financial histories and cannot gain access to the high street banks but Credit Unions will take these customers and most will “ring fence” their rent payments if landlords work with them. They will also send a landlord written notification if the tenant exercises his right to stop a standing order and, because they require one months notice to do this, the landlord has time to take appropriate action. The landlord will also get written notification if a tenant tell the Credit Union to change his rent payments from you to another landlord and again this is early warning that a tenant may have abandoned the property. Abandonment is fraught with potholes for unsuspecting landlords. Some landlords use what are known as “abandonment notices” on the door of the property but these notices have no legal status and will not protect a landlord against accusations of illegal eviction and the horrifying penalties that may follow a successful conviction. A tenant who has given a Credit Union the required written notification to change the recipient of their rent payments has committed himself in writing to the fact that he has changed his prime residence and the written notification that the Credit Union will send to the landlord may be just the document you need to cover your back.

The PRS must survive because without us we will have “cardboard Cities” all over this country. I believe that the Universal Credit will bring us closer to the day when Government have to face the fact that

Landlords are running a business, a business which is vital to the future of this country and the well being of those who live here. Landlords need to be paid for their services just like any other business. Without homes, people will sink into further dependence and put pressure on the Health Service, the Legal System and society in general. The UK will not be a place where people want to make a life and bring up their children. We will not hang onto the many talented young people who are the future of this country. We will become a country of lawlessness, worklessness and hopelessness.

This article was first published on 15th December 2011 and has been re-published on 30th December 2012 following recent media reports of a survey carried out by Housing Charity “Crisis” which indicates that only 1.5% of Private Landlords now rent to tenants claiming benefits.

Comments

Mary Latham

10:50 AM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Tenna, I am sorry perhaps I have worded my post badly but when I said

"I do agree that we need to use all of our resources and energy helping those who are in genuine need but first we must separate the needy from the greedy. By greedy I mean those who drain societies rescources, not just money, when they are actually capable of supporting themselves"

I was not being judgemental I was commenting on human nature. I too am an optimist and I look for solutions but before solutions can be found we need to be realistic about the problems. I do not work at high level, my politics are middle of the road and I never get involved in political organisations of any kind. I am a Landlord of almost 40 years exerience and I interact with thousands of other landlords every year and with many,many tenants and tenants support organisation as part of my job for the NLA. I have observed that there are two distinct types of people who claim benefits. The first are those for whom the system was created, they have genuine need for many of the reasons that you have stated and I too am proud to be part of a community that helps these people and very proud of people like you who give your time and energy to care about those in genuine need. The second group are those who are greedy, I'm sorry if you don't like this word but I cannot find a better word that describes what I see. You must surely acknowledge that there is only a finite amount of money available and that this money must be spent on those in genuine need rather than being "taken" by those who simply are not motivated to support themselves?

Let me give you two examples of tenants who live in my properties

Tenant A is a very young woman with a baby and a three year old. Her partner was working when they moved into my property and they were paying their rent for over a year. The partner lost his job and at the same time she found out that their savings had been spent to fund his on-line gambling habit. The relationship broke down and he left. This young mother is now claiming benefits and struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the emotional turmoil. I have reduced the rent by £100 a month to help her because in my opinion she is in genuine need.

Tenant B is a woman in her early 40's with three children aged 6 to 13. When she came to me she was unemployed and claiming benefits and was really struggling to find a home close to her childrns schools. She is able bodied and once held a senior post in a legal department. She owns a new Harley Davidson motorbike that was customised for her and is bright pink, this bike cost her thousands she told me this herself. In order to transport her bike she owns a Chevrolet truck and she told me that the tires alone cost her hundreds of pounds. This tenant keeps the flat beautifully and has top of the rang furniture. The children wear designer lables as does she. This year she has been on holiday abroad twice and spends many weekends at "Harley Meets". She has twice sent me text messages in the early hours of the morning and woken me up. I keep my phone on for those tenants who may have an emergency but neither of these messages were urgent. When I asked her not to do this she told me, I'm sorry I can't sleep. I know that she goes back to bed once the children are in school and this is why she cannot sleep at night. On one occassion my sister asked her if she got bored being at home all day she replied "I do but I can't afford to work I would loose to much in benefits, even my ex pays me in cash so that I don't loose out" In my opinion she is greedy and the benefits system has taken away her motivation to work.

I could agree more when you said

"If we want people to take responsibility for themselves we need to stop treating citizens like problems who need to be sorted and start to give back responsibility; to individuals, to parents, to children, to schools, to employers, to communities. As a society we need to re-learn that actions have consequences, and that’s OK. Because it means if you do something good, you get the rewards."

It is not the people who are the problem it is the system that takes away their motivation.

15:02 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Hello Mary I think one day it would be wonderful to meet and have this discussion over a coffee or a beer! 🙂 I try not to think of individual examples as they can be exasperating. I recognise completely that incomprehension when faced with an individual who takes without giving back with zero comprehension that this is unpalatable to those of us who work and go without the trimmings! I will always make it clear to my 'clients' (the PC term for the people I work with) that I will always report them for any benefit fraud or other illegal activity. They can choose not to work with me but I will not be complicit in their actions. It is always my starting point and there is no compromise. I see that as my uncomfortable responsibility. I absolutely believe Landlords should do that same whatever the personal or business cost. I also, as I said, believe that it is reasonable for us to ask for something in return such as community involvement to ensure those receiving maximum benefits are not isolated or excluded from social interaction at a useful level.
I am aware that Private Landlords are somehow expected to be social workers. The extent to which they take on that role is a personal choice and many of the landlords I have spoken to have set their own parameters through bitter experience. But I believe that if they are acheiving their rents through socially funded tenants then a middle ground seems reasonable. How many landlords would have viable portfolios if social funding did not exist for tenants in need? They may be "one redundancy away from a tenant who is on benefits". Without that social funding in place those landlords are also one redundancy away from rent arrears or a rental void. My point is that the relationship between councils, tenants and landlords in symbiotic. A shared responsibility using public funds to provide housing. The extent to which the tenant understands their responsibility within that relationship seems to be the gap in the triangle. t

Mary Latham

16:30 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Teena I would really love to do that, if you follow me on twitter you will see when I might be in your area.

"My point is that the relationship between councils, tenants and landlords in symbiotic. A shared responsibility using public funds to provide housing. The extent to which the tenant understands their responsibility within that relationship seems to be the gap in the triangle"

I agree 100%

I work very closely with all West Midlands local authorities through the Homestamp consortium. The consortium, which also includes tenant, university, Fire and Police representatives only exisits to get quality information out to landlords and tenants and this is why we have produced the education module. We understand each other and know that it is only by working together we can make things happen. We do not use public funds each partner contributes a small amount and we all contribute our time.

You are also right when you say that many landlords rely on benefits to cover the rent of their tenants and therefore the landlords costs. Unfortunately so many landlords have been caught by huge rent arrears and the long and painful possession process that many are choosing not to take tenants who are not working. Each time NLA survey landlord members the number of landords who leave this market increases. This is a very worrying trend.

Have a look at this http://www.insidehousing.co.uk//6517867.article. Lawyer Jonathan Hulley will urge ministers to rethink plans for direct payment of housing benefit at the Liberal Democrat conference today, here he explains why

Mary

Ben Reeve-Lewis

16:52 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Mary do you have more details on Homestamp? I would love to know more.

I too share a holistic attitude to housing, even though my job is to prosecute landlords for harassment and illegal eviction I cant help but see the bigger picture and so much harassment and illegal evcition is committed out of ignorance and frustration. there are the thugs,........... believe me there are the thugs LOL.......but even they are a small proportion, even in South East London.

What annoys me about Shelter's campaign againt councils is that my approach, and I've been in my work since 1990, is to try wherever I can to get landlords ad tenants around the table and metapgorically bang some heads together, solutions arent always just about prosecutions.

This is why I am so enthusiastic about the social lettings agency model I wrote about on Property 118 a few days ago. The idea that Lanldords, Environmental Health officers, grants teams, Tenants, prosecuting officers like me, housing benefit staff etc can all sit down in a room together and try to work out a solution to a problem. If that sound idealistic to some it really isnt, it is the shape of the future and how things should be, and I say that as someone who has seen the wrost tenants, the worst landlords, lying homelessness applicants, stabbings and shootings in the PRS. all of which has given me insight enough to know that this can work. It aint naive optimism but a pragmatic solution that is long overdue.

Landlords need educating, tenants need educating, they also need help and assistance. Thats the whole social lettings approach

17:38 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Interesting article. I guess the acid test will be just how much Landlords need social housing tenants. If the system is put in place with protection for tenants then landlords, I guess, will simply continue to vote with their feet and there will be a gaping hole in housing provision. Hopefully the powers that be will focus their minds on that possibility before it's too late. The PRS is a business of supply and demand like any other with times of plenty and a time of balancing. For myself I am lost in admiration for those landlords who involve themselves in the trials and tribulations of their tenants. And for those who choose not to do so I completely respect their freedom to choose how they run their own business. If successive Governments choose to hide from their responsibilities behind individuals, if the media and certain homelessness charities continue to hold up private landlords as some sort of pariah, ultimately it will only be the tenants who suffer. t
Re. Twitter. consider it done 🙂

Ben Reeve-Lewis

18:58 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Kitchenspink you might like to read this Blog about a landlord who gets involved http://hmolandlady.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/adapted-version-of-tenant-referencing-hmo-style/

Mary Latham

20:26 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Ben Tell me what you want to know. My involvement with Homestamp is one of my proudest, we do just what you suggest. First we recognise the problems - we admit the realities and fault of those that we each represent and it is by being so open and honest that we then find solutions. Finding solutions is what my life in property has been about and I worked very hard for 20 years as a little lone voice (well perhaps not so little) and it was not until I co-founded the Association of Midlands Landlords (now part of NLA) and became of the first members of Homestamp that my hard work began to pay off. Don't imagine that it is all sweetness and light we often have heated discussions (not that I ever get cross hahaha) but we are all pulling on the same rope and we get there in the end.

We published a First Safety in HMO's Guide years before Lacors and the Homestamp guide was used when this national guide was being developed. Ours is much more user friendly and is free to download from http://www.homestamp.com the building layouts, clearly marking where smoke alarms, emergency lights, fire doors etc all need to be placed in any given property style is so easy to follow a landlord could not fail. Our how to on Fire Risk Assessments not only explains why every landlord needs to carry out a fire risk assessment; it takes you through how to do it step by step. All the partner authorities use the same HMO Licence application form so landlords do not need to relearn how to complete one each time they cross a border. Our Education module will, in time, bring about a change in thinking in the young and equip them for the realities of their future housing options.

The new project for 2011-12 is a complete review of how Anti Social Behaviour is dealt with. We will look at the realities and we WILL find a way of solving the problem rather than moving those, who have ASB, from one tenure to another and from one area to another. Look out UK because the West Midlands will not be a comfortable place for people with ASB to live and they could be coming your way.

My proudest achievement has been in facilitating the seminars that get landlords up to speed through the Midlands Landlords Accrediation Scheme (MLAS based on LLAS), which was the Homestamp project of 2007 Based on education, rather than property inspection. A code of conduct. Continual learning through Continual Professional Development (CPD) seminars and a robust Arbitration proceedure to deal with complaints. A landlord cannot move now in most of the West Midlands if he is not MLAS or NLA accredited. The local authorities insist that any landlord taking part in a leasing or similar scheme must be MLAS, universities will not even allow a landlord to advertise or go to their Housing Fairs if he is not MLAS or NLA accredited. The partners all sent staff onto a seminar so that they too understood the business of being a landlord. Landlords who are either MLAS or NLA accredited are passported from one scheme to the other at no cost. When I drive around my patch and see those skips full of old doors which have been replaced with fire check doors and I see the standard of some of the homes on offer I feel as I did when my children graduated. Tomorrow 16 more landlords will attend my seminar at the University of Birmingham (who give us the room for free to keep costs to landlords down to £150 for a full day seminar) On Thursday up to 20 landlords will gain 5 CPD points (they need to gain 50 over 5 years) by attending a seminar and discussion group on how best to deal with inventories and tenants guarantors to help them when dealing with tenants who have not kept to their side of the AST. The landlords love these seminars see mlas-online.co.uk and MLAS will soon be joining property118 so that they can give testimonial to that fact. Out feedback from both landlords and tenants has been beyond our hopes and we are going from strength to strength. We even have landlords who don't even let in the Midlands because, despite popular belief, they want to learn and understand that ignorance is dangerous to their business. I am sounding like a proud mum now because that is just how I feel about MLAS and all the great landlords who have proven that we don't need legislation to force us to do a good job we just need information, guidence and support.

I have just invited Lloyds bank to send their local Managers on the course, so that they understand our business when making decisions about lending to landlords.

You will find details of Homestamp at http://www.homestamp.com but if there is anything I can do to help you to give birth to son of MLAS please let me know.

Mary Latham

20:30 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Teena I will be quoting your comment. You are spot on. Landlords are part of the solution not part of the problem. If we don't make money we cannot survive and if the PRS does not survive Lord help us all.

Mary Latham

20:37 PM, 20th September 2011
About 10 years ago

Oops I meant to say son of Homestamp London already has LLAS. How could I forget, I delivered their very first seminar for them and this is what inspired me to bring MLAS to Homestamp.

14:28 PM, 21st September 2011
About 10 years ago

Thanks Ben. I had a read. I'm guessing the name Steve gained more relevance than it deserved there 🙂

Here is some inspiring stuff about a landlord I greatly admire:

http://www.yulpa.com/blog/landlord-curated-jonathan-clarke-of-milton-keynes/

t

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