Nigel Farage, MEP and leader of UKIP (Video interview)

by Vanessa Warwick

14:08 PM, 30th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Nigel Farage, MEP and leader of UKIP (Video interview)

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Nigel Farage, MEP and leader of UKIP (Video interview)

By Guest Columnist Vanessa Warwick


Vanessa Warwick, co-founder of the Property Tribes forum, recently recorded this interview with Nigel Farage, MEP & leader of UKIP, to ask him his opinions on a variety of issues affecting the housing market including social housing, benefits, first time buyers and EU buy to let regulations.

You can also find more of my property musings at my blog at www.yulpa.com/blog


Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter turned professional Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.’s busiest online Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product, Yulpa, an on-line “property office/filo-fax” that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase. Vanessa and Nick have a portfolio of high end apartments in North and East London, family houses in the South East, holiday lets on the South Coast, and a penthouse apartment in Larnaca, Cyprus.

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Comments

16:12 PM, 30th January 2012
About 7 years ago

If housing benefit were paid to landlords directly - it would undoubtedly attract a lot of grief from the public initially - however, it would mean rents should become more realistic, and also stop the banks from guessing their way through the creation of buy to let mortgage products and valuations - 
http://www.ipinglobal.com/ipin-live/394084/how-the-buy-to-let-market-is-manipulated

Neil Patterson

8:46 AM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Absolutely brilliant interview Vanessa and better than any I have seen on the BBC or ITV. You got the right person at the right time with the right questions. It is great to see a politician being so passionate and candid. Keep going and pushing for common sense.

9:52 AM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

A landlord with a housing benefit tenant is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

If the payment is made directly to the tenant, which it invariably is, unless
there are truly exceptional circumstances, the temptation may be too great for
the tenant to take the money when it finally arrives. Often the claim is not initially paid out for a couple of months, and then the tenant find himself with a cheque for a couple of grand.

Even though he may have had the money and spent it, you as the landlord have no right to any information whatsoever from the council, due to that old chestnut, the Data Protection Act.(As it happens, the Data Protection Act allows the council to disclose information when the intention is to prevent fraud, but trying arguing that point with a council lackey, who have never even seen a
copy of the Act, but come out with the same knee jerk response whenever you ask for any information!!)

Even if you are successful in receiving direct payments, you as the landlord are now responsible for all the acts, errors and omissions of your tenant, and just
because you have received the money, does not mean you will keep it. A typical scenario is a single person claims housing benefit and later moves their
partner into the property without telling you or the council. Unless you are
prepared to intrude to an unwarranted degree in your tenant’s personal life,
how are you supposed to know?

Nevertheless, the council may decide that the tenant should not be entitled to the money retrospectively and claim it back from you. I have fought unsuccessfully in court where a council is claiming six months’ rent back from me. How can that be fair, I have only received the proper rent that was due and had no part in any fraudulent claim.

Is it any wonder that any sensible professional landlord avoids housing benefit
like the plague?

14:01 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Thanks for the comments.  I personally prefer to rent to private tenants for the very reasons outlined by @7e3424b40ffbf4ff5beefed7846d1e70:disqus.  However, all Landlords are only one redundancy away from their private tenant becoming a benefits tenant!  I myself had a "City boy" in London who was made redundant and went onto housing benefit without informing me or the lettings agent.  He stopped paying the rent and started using the tax payer's money a.k.a. housing benefit, to pay for his lifestyle.  When I threatened to serve notice on him he had the cheek to say "Well, I was going to pay you this month's rent, but now I think I will keep it to pay the deposit on my next flat!!!!".  Does anyone know of cases where LHA allowance has been spent elsewhere and the recipient has been prosecuted?  I think that once the money has gone, it's gone.  The tax payer is being mugged!!!!

14:05 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

I have mentioned this problem before but nobody seemed to appreciate the potential problems.
Therefore in the case of LHA claimants you just tell them that in the event of them not passing LHA onto you; you will not wait for 2 months missed payments and then claim directly
This can be 1 month and  1 day.
You will just evict them.
This of course disadvantages claimants where LHA is paid direct because of a claimant's social issues.
This means that if their claim circumstances change the council will try to recover from the LL
Well guess what LL will choose not to take these types on.
There needs to revised regulation that in the event of a claimant not qualifying for benefit that even if the LL was receiving LHA direct then the LL cannot have a claim made against him.
And that ALL claims should be made against the claimant.
It is ridiculous that a LL could find his rent taken away from him because he was unaware of material changes in a claimants circumstances.
When UC comes in there will be increasing evictions of LHA claimants as there will not even be an option of direct payment..
Personally I have had 3 LHA claimants who have all ripped me off.
I would rather my property be empty than risk taking on a LHA claimant.
Of course this will never happen to me again as no LHA claimant will EVER meet RGI requirements which ALL my tenants will have to meet except Airline crew.
Being next to Stansted I don't bother with RGI.
Pilots and cabin crew never compromise their circumstances.
They would have to much to lose
I agree with your concerns.
I had a colleague who had to repay £13000.00 in exactly the same circumstances as you.
How can it be right that a private citizen; in this case a landlord may provide a service for payment in a legally binding contract that then would be all taken from him if the provider of the resources to pay for that service determines that the user of that service misrepresented qualification to be able to use the servce.
And then for all payments for the service be taken away from the provider with no realistic opportunity for recovery of his losses.
All through no fault of the service provider.
The system is barking mad.
As you suggest no professional LL would wish to take a risk on these idiots.
Wait til UC arrives and then see the s--t hit the proverbial fan!!

14:35 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

I agree Vannessa which is why I always invarably take out an RGI policy on any type of tenant.
Let the insurance company pay you your rent and have all the hassle of evicting your wrongun tenant.

Mary Latham

17:35 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Great interview as usual Vanessa and Nigel Farage did himself credit.  How often do you hear people at this level admitting that they do not know how LHA is paid to tenants.

The fact is that landlords cannot avoid LHA because more people are claiming all the time as their circumstances change and therefore we need a system that works.

In my opinion Universal Credit will offer us opportunities to bring people, who are in receipt of public funding to help with their rent, into the "norm".  I am working closely with Credit Unions in my area to make certain that the system is in place that will make Universal Credit better, rather than worse, for landlords. Landlords should find out how LHA works in their area and keep themselves informed about changes as they happen.  Landlords need to be prepared to work with their tenants if they become LHA claimants and this means that we all need to understand the system.  Serving notice may be an option that landlords choose but, as we know, this is not a quick fix and if rent is unpaid during the process it can cost a landlord thousands. Who is to say that the next tenant may not end up in the same situation?

21:20 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Serving notice would NOT be a costly option for LL's IF they obtained a RGI policy on the tenant or guarantor at the outset of the tenancy.
These circumstances are going to concentrate LL's minds even more as to who they choose to take on as tenant.
If you don't or can't obtain a RGI policy then as you say it COULD cost the LL's thousands.
Time  for LL to start considering the revised cost benefit analysis paradigm.
I think there is almost a case for insisting that UC will only be made payable via Credit Unions where ringfencing could occur and so prevent claimants getting their sticky little hands on the monies meant for payment to utilities, rent etc, etc.
These CU will defacto be able to bring some sort of financial discipline to these fractured and dysfunctional claimants. and possibly prevent them being evicted as the LL is being paid the rent by the CU directly.

Jonathan Clarke

21:34 PM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Yes great interview Vanessa.  I`ve been renting to LHA tenants for 12 years. You can get paid direct now under government guidelines introduced in April 2011. The vast majority of my tenants now pay direct. Yes there are downsides if their circumstances change and they claw back from you but if you manage the properties closely and tenant select appropriately at the outset then this reduces the risk of that significantly. I have yet to suffer from that claw back save a few hundred quid.  I certainly dont subscribe to Pauls view about leaving a property empty rather than renting to an LHA tenant. Commercially very unsound. Todays private tenant can easily become an LHA one tomorrow if they lose their job. There personality doesnt change overnight. The skill is in the interview process. 
My LHA tenants are on a par with my private ones. I dont see it as an us v them situation. Communication is the key.  

0:54 AM, 1st February 2012
About 7 years ago

Trouble is it is very rare that one may be able to obtain RGI on a LHA claimant or their guarantor.
If they don't start out as one RGI will still cover them even if they go onto LHA,
So providing they make the total rent they can stay.
If not RGI claim is progressed with th tenants bering evicted.
My flat has now been vacant following eviction of a tenant last November.
I could have a LHA claimant in my flat for £875.00 tomorrow.
But I won't be .
I would rather leave it vacant for a few more months than rent to LHA claimants.
I will get a private tenant eventually and as the mortgage is cheap I am prepared to lose until I get a private tenant.
LHA is a lot less than I may achieve privately.
Indeed a LHA claimant opposite a flat I have is being evicted and I mean 1 metre away from the door of my flat.
I know her and her 3 kids in a 2 bed flat and I would NOT take her on even though she was on £875  LHA. 
Most of my tenants stay for a long time so I will eventually recover my void losses.

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