Do we need new Tenancy Agreements – Partner moving in and out of properties

by Readers Question

15:49 PM, 28th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Do we need new Tenancy Agreements – Partner moving in and out of properties

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Do we need new Tenancy Agreements – Partner moving in and out of properties

We have a married couple with children as tenants in a house. The husband’s mother is gravely ill and the husband will move out to live with his mother for an indeterminate time period so the tenants have asked for the husband’s name to be removed from the Tenancy Agreement. We assume this is so the wife can claim full housing benefit in our area and the husband can claim some benefits while living in another council area.

Should we draft a new AST in only the wife’s name and would this start another 6 month AST term?

We are currently thinking that instead we should write a letter as an amendment to the existing TA stating that due to these circumstances the husband will move out and relinquish any rights to the property and deposit until such times as the situation changes and the husband returns. Then we could have a new amendment when the husband returns. We are quite happy with the tenants as the rent is paid on time and communication both ways is good.

In another property we have a single mother on housing benefits and because she had previous difficulties the council is paying us directly. (It was a domestic violence situation and social services helped to re-home her).  She is now proposing that her (new) boyfriend move in with her but we are concerned that this could change the whole benefits rights situation and we may lose the ‘security’ of the council paying us directly.

Do we have the right to refuse to have the boyfriend on the TA and if he moves in anyway what rights would he have in the longer term? We could envisage a situation where we might want to terminate the tenancy but the boyfriend may have squatters rights.

Many thanks

Andypartner



Comments

Michael Barnes

12:20 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

My gut feeling is "don't do it".

Sounds like there could be some kind of benefit fraud going on here.

Go talk to them and find out what the situation is and what they are intending.

If you sign a new agreement with the woman, then that is setting up a 6-month AST term.
If the tenancy is within the fixed term at the moment, then it cannot be ended without a formal surrender of tenancy by both tenants.

Andrew Turner

12:25 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Issuing a new AST would indeed result in a new 6 month period of security. It would be a tidier solution than making the amendment by letter (or by deed of variation) but you need to think about that 6 month period of security.

Are the tenants still within the fixed term, or has the fixed term expired?

With regard to the boyfriend issue, you are certainly within your rights to refuse to allow the tenant to share occupation (assuming that the tenancy agreement is a standard form AST). One option is to allow him to occupy as a 'permitted occupier' and to get the tenant and the boyfriend to sign a document confirming this status as a permitted occupier and not as a tenant.

I doubt that the benefits situation would be changed by the boyfriend moving in (as a permitted occupier rather than as a tenant) but you should check this with the local authority and they will be able to clarify the position.

Good luck.

Andrew
Hughes Paddison Solicitors
http://www.hughes-paddison.co.uk/

r01

14:42 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Firstly, about husband having his name removed.

Do the family currently live entirely on benefits? If not, you may well be facilitating them to acquire benefits by deceit. I would certainly be asking why and what they wish to achieve by this as removing his name removes a jointly liable party from your agreement exposing you to greater risk automatically. If you involve yourself in any fraud then you deserve to get caught and punished along with them, after all I and all other tax payers are subsidising these people when they live off the state.

Secondly, the single mum moving boyfriend in.

What do you know about this boyfriend? How long has she known him? Could he actually be the very same man that she had her domestic violence with??????? If not, is he also a wife beater? Sadly, hundreds of children suffer and even die each year as a result of stupid people taking back a partner who promises not to do it again (for the umpteenth time) and the "victim" parent seems to repeat the same mistake over and over again by choosing similar people. The clues here are:-

1 Single mother - obviously no husband
2 On benefits - obviously the father is not supporting his children
3 Boyfriend moving in - not husband
4 You're thinking it could affect direct payment of rent - obviously you don't expect boyfriend to be paying it?

Of course it will affect her benefit status, unless the boyfriend is an irresponsible Oik on benefits himself as if he is working he will be required to support his "partner" - single mum or not. If he is unemployed, what do you think they will be doing all day long? After the brief "moving in, loved-up" phase they will probably begin to get on each other's nerves and start arguing, smoking pot and doing all the other irresponsible things people who make a lifestyle choice of living permanently on benefits do.

I would talk to the tenant and remind her of what happened in the past and ask her if she really wanted to relinquish her security of accommodation as to allow a new man to move in would require both names on the agreement and then if he turned nasty like her last one she would be left high and dry with her child (ren). Then I would only even contemplate taking him on after a full referencing process to ensure he can and will pay the rent as when the local authority find out about him moving in they quite rightly will stop her housing benefit if he works and earns sufficient to keep them both. I would actually ring the benefits office in advance to see exactly what would happen once knowing more about the tenant's boyfriend living with her. I would also tell the tenant that is what I would do if he moved in without your permission, which would clearly affect her benefit position - and so it should!!!

If you don't take the right precautions you risk having your property trashed and I won't have any sympathy for you if you post later on bleating on about how unfair it all is.

Be responsible, because it sounds to me that your tenants are not being.

Andy Brett

16:23 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "29/10/2014 - 12:20":

Thanks Mike for your comments. Our understanding is as said in the post, (that the husband will move in with his sick mother in another area). They are on benefits and, while it could be a ruse to claim benefits in two areas, we knew that the mother was ill when they took up the tenancy 5 months ago. We were wary of altering the existing TA but thought we would be OK with a letter outlining the change of circumstance (and copying that to the local DSS). From other comments it seems even this could be dangerous so we may leave it for another month and set up a new ASTA depending on the circumstances at the time.

Andy Brett

17:00 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Andrew Turner" at "29/10/2014 - 12:25":

Thanks Andrew for your comments. Yes the first tenants are 5 months into a 6 month ASTA and we were nervous of changing that. We're still thinking that a letter acknowledging the change in circumstances may be OK but would also copy that to the DSS as they are on full benefits. Might be better still to wait another month and renew the ASTA then according to the prevailing situation.
Re the boyfriend issue on the second house, I like the sound of the 'permitted occupier' rather than adding him as a tenant. We haven't yet vetted this person. Because of the tenant's previous domestic violence issue we are in close contact with the council/DSS regarding this tenant. They were actively involved with re-homing her as our tenant and pay us directly, so we would only make any changes with their understanding and approval. She is only 3 months into the ASTA.

Andy Brett

17:37 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "29/10/2014 - 14:42":

Thanks r01 for your comments. After 7 years as landlords letting to a mixture of working and benefits families we have, until this year, been very happy to provide good quality homes to people that appreciate them, look after them, and more importantly ensure the rent is paid. A lot was done by trust and gut feeling about people but regrettably this year we have had a few issues that are making us more cynical about the intentions of people on benefits, hence the request for advice.

Re the husband moving out, as said in the post, our understanding is that he will move in with his sick mother in another area. They are on benefits and, while it could be a ruse to claim benefits in two areas, we knew that the mother was ill when they took up the tenancy 5 months ago. If we make any changes we would inform the local DSS. You never know, it may be genuine!
We were wary of altering the existing TA but thought we would be OK with a letter outlining the change of circumstance (and copying that to the local DSS). From other comments it seems even this could be dangerous so we may leave it for another month and set up a new ASTA depending on the circumstances at the time.

Re the boyfriend in the second house, you are right to question the circumstances, which we are also doing, and also why we are seeking advice. Yes she is a single mum, on full benefits, and only 3 months into a 6-month ASTA so alarm bells are ringing. Because of her previous domestic violence issue we are in close contact with the council/DSS regarding this tenant. They were actively involved with re-homing her as our tenant and pay us directly, so we would only make any changes with their understanding and approval.
Another poster has suggested making him a 'permitted occupier' rather than adding him as a tenant. This could be a possibility but if he is permitted to occupy for a lengthy period could he then assume some tenancy rights? We haven't yet vetted this person but will obviously be very careful and keep the DSS informed.

Romain Garcin

18:19 PM, 29th October 2014
About 4 years ago

You cannot really amend the current tenancy.
To "remove" the husband, either the tenancy must be assigned to a new tenant (wife) or a new tenancy must be created with the wife only.

Creating a new tenancy with the wife only will not necessarily create a new 6 months fixed term: That would depend on the terms of the tenancy.
However, it would prevent you from evicting via s.21 for 6 months, indeed.

In any case, it is unclear what would be your interest in doing that: They are both jointly liable as tenant, it seems best to keep it that way, as already pointed out by r01.

r01

20:22 PM, 30th October 2014
About 4 years ago

I understand your motivations, you are probably really decent people trying to be helpful & "understanding". To my mind you are right to be cynical because whilst there are some decent benefit tenants, there are also a very large number that are not, as we can all see from many posts and articles.

Husband moving in with Mother... If I were to consider doing as they wish, I'd make sure they put their request in writing, clearly stating why in case there is any form of fraud going on. If there obviously is, make it clear you will not be part of it and refuse. If there appears not to be but you subsequently find something out, you can at least prove you were acting on a specific, reasonable instruction and were not knowingly taking part in any wrong-doing.

Single Mum...... For me, the sound of Big Ben would be ringing. A single Mum who has only just escaped a terribly violent man, then in the blink of an eye (OK, 3 months later), wants to move another man in lock, stock and smoking barrel ?? I consider doing so as quickly as this to be the height of irresponsibility and wouldn't be at all surprised if you find there is a lot more to this than you currently understand.

I'm sorry, but I have little patience with these people and feel terribly sad for the children who end up being dragged up and used as pawns, they certainly don't thrive with a production line of non-fathers (particularly abusive ones), drifting in and out of their lives.


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