Jo Westlake

Registered with
Saturday 27th June 2015

Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 29

Jo Westlake

15:01 PM, 27th April 2020
About 3 months ago

HMO tenant not abiding by lockdown

This seems to have gone off on a bit of a tangent.
It has nothing to do with parents taking their kids for a walk in the forest or people visiting elderly parents.
I think we all know the rules were made up on the hoof and were originally supposed to be for a very temporary period.

This is about a group of unrelated people living in a shared house mainly trying their best to accommodate the Covid 19 lockdown and how to deal with the one person in that house who thinks none of it applies to him.

There is a massive difference between people going to work where social distancing should be in place and people going round to their mates house for a few beers.
Coming home in the middle of the night isn't necessarily nefarious. Night workers do it all the time. It can be intrusive though to the rest of the household, especially if someone has had few beers.

Are the other housemates displaying "irrational fear" or are they doing their bit to try to contain the pandemic? Why did the government instruct everyone to stay home if they really meant it was fine to go out drinking with your mates and their mates and those few random people who happened to be passing? Why did they say either move in with your partner or don't see them for the duration of lockdown if what they really meant was pop round with their shopping any time you fancy and while you're there feel free to stay for a few hours?

The question is what can landlords do in this and any other undesirable situation now the eviction route is closed to them?
By undesirable I mean rent arrears or behaviour that causes distress to neighbours or housemates.... Read More

Jo Westlake

21:32 PM, 23rd April 2020
About 3 months ago

LHA Increase to trigger rent increase?

The Housing Benefit rate was reduced in 2011. I think at that time it went from the 50th percentile down to 30th percentile. For example in my area the 2 bed rate was reduced from £650 to £585 a month. It gradually went up to £612 and was then frozen for the last 4 years. It has now gone up to just under £680.

I have two 2 beds with low income working tenants both receiving benefit top ups. One has had a rent freeze for 7 years at £630 per month, the other frozen for 4 years at £620. In both cases these rents were substantially below market rate. I've just increased both to £675 which for both tenants is effectively a rent cut as they will no longer need to top it up out if other money. They are both still below market rate.
This is highlighted by the fact the local council have just placed a single parent with one child in a 3 bed I have at £715 a month on the basis that it was cheaper than any of the available 2 beds on the market.... Read More

Jo Westlake

12:44 PM, 22nd April 2020
About 3 months ago

Covid-19: 74% of landlords have been contacted about rent payments

Is it 74% of tenants have contacted their landlord or is it 74% of landlords have been contacted by at least one tenant?
I would suggest the latter is more likely.

I have 31 separate tenancy agreements covering 52 tenants . One tenant misunderstood the original government statement and thought everyone was getting free rent and mortgage. That took about a minute to clear up. One tenant contacted me to say she was furloughed and her rent might be a few days late. She always pays early so this month it was 7 days early instead of the usual 10 days.
The only one I've had multiple emails from is a student who had been sent a letter from the Student Guild to give to landlords asking to release students from their contracts. Their justification was because Unite had released theirs. No thought had gone into the differences between joint and individual tenancy agreements. The fact that a surprisingly high number of students have decided to stay in their student housing must have escaped the Guild. It seems some students have obtained key worker jobs in their University cities while others have vulnerable high risk family members at home and want to allow them to better self isolate.

I am expecting to have a couple of tenants with genuine difficulties when the furlough money comes through. It will be 80% of less than they thought. UC may help but it will depend on if it gets back dated.

One comment made by a single mum who has been furloughed and gets benefit top ups is that now there is nowhere to go such as cafes, pubs, kids activities, etc it's made her realise quite how much money she was spending on such things.

As far as I can see there are various categories that tenants fit into and financially it certainly isn't all doom and gloom right now. Maybe in a few months time more people will be in difficulties.
Right now millions of people are working flat out in key worker roles often earning far more than usual. Millions more are working from home or in workplaces where social distancing is possible, all earning their usual pay. Anyone on benefit has had a substantial increase. People who are furloughed are getting 80% of something, have no work related expenses such as travel or childcare and can go and get a temporary job on top if they choose to.
Students are still getting their student loans, some will be getting furlough money from their part time bar or restaurant jobs and they can work.
The self employed are probably having the most problems but it will be an industry by industry issue.

Personally I expect to have 2 or 3 tenants who will genuinely need assistance and I want to be in a position to give that assistance. In order for me to do so it's important that tenants who are able to pay continue to do so.... Read More

Jo Westlake

11:26 AM, 27th March 2020
About 4 months ago

Adding another tenant onto contract

I'd agree to it subject to referencing and treat it as a new tenancy. Email both of them the standard How to Rent guide, gas safety cert, EPC, GDPR policy, etc. Do your Right to Rent check. Unprotect and then reprotect the deposit.
There will be a small cost to all of this but well worth paying if it means a good tenant can continue living in your property.... Read More

Jo Westlake

1:00 AM, 19th March 2020
About 4 months ago

He's absolutely crackers!

The media and politicians seem to be implying everyone will be ill and everyone will lose their job and income.
That's completely irrational.

Some tenants will have massive pay cuts due to reduced working hours or business closure. Others will be working flat out and earning more than usual.
There will be thousands of temporary jobs covering for regular staff sickness and covering industries with higher than normal demand.

Universal Credit and the Local Housing Allowance exist for a reason. In most cases it is significantly below real rent but it would minimise the arrears tenants could accrue. Presumably claiming benefits and receiving the first payment is going to be even slower than usual but knowing there is money on the way would reassure some landlords and tenants. A great many of the tenants who will be affected have absolutely no knowledge of the benefits system. Reminding them it exists is probably a sensible thing to do.
I was under the impression the suggested rent holiday doesn't cancel the rent, it defers it. How many tenants are going to want or need to rack up a rent debt? Having compassion for and giving a breathing space to those in genuine difficulty due to the impact of Coronavirus is one thing. Irresponsible journalism encouraging tenants to not pay (even if they have the money) is a major concern.

If pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theme parks, etc are all closed what are people going to spend money on? A great many people have already bought several weeks supply of food, so again what are they going to spend money on? If they're self isolating or working from home or laid off they aren't having to pay to travel to work.

So while some tenants are going to experience financial difficulty others are going to be earning significantly more than normal.... Read More