Potential tenant on disability benefit?

by Readers Question

11:19 AM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Potential tenant on disability benefit?

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Potential tenant on disability benefit?

I have a disabled lady who wants to rent a property of mine. She says it is suitable for her and that the benefit office will cover the rent. They are doing so now in her existing rental property. helpful

As she has an incurable illness, I assume the housing benefit will be long term.
Her son is her carer at the moment and has just got a job and will start next month. This will not affect her benefit entitlement she says.

I have not had a tenant in these circumstances before and was wondering how to verify such circumstances and whether it would be worth credit referencing for someone on benefits and just starting in a new job.

Many thanks

Martin



Comments

Mike T

12:12 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Martin, can I ask; Do you think your house is really suitable for her diabilities ? Have you checked out where she is living at the moment ?
Has the son had a previous job ? And of course there is a whole lot of other questions to ask..... But beware of 'making it fit' as a mistake at this early stage can lead to problems later. With a bit of luck she will turn out to be a good tenant and you will have helped someone in need. Best wishes. Mike

Sharon

12:29 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi. I work in welfare benefits. First a word of caution-continuing entitlement to disability related benefit depends entirely on effect/impact and not condition. For example, something getting worse that is halted or improved by a procedure or treatment, if significant, could change entitlement or remove altogether.
On the other hand, disability related is on the whole the most 'stable' of benefits as (unlike JSA) you will not have the tenant in and out of work which can be a nightmare for housing benefit.
The prospective tenant can ask for a pre-tenancy determination, be sure to include the impact of the son's income too to be sure of effect.
Also check that it's not Universal Credit or LHA rather than HB, although pre-tenancy determination should be available for LHA. Not sure yet about UC.
Hope that helps

Robert Mellors

13:13 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Martin

You need to find out which disability benefits she is on, and the level (amount) she is receiving for each, as many people say they are on disability benefits, when really it is only ESA they are getting. If she is on DLA (Disability Living Allowance) be aware that this is being phased out and people are getting transferred to PIP (Personal Independence Payments) which has a different test and many on DLA are losing their benefit when assessed under the PIP rules.

Also, what is the income of her son? Is he getting Carers Allowance, or is he an unofficial carer? Is he going to be a joint tenant, or her rent guarantor, or just part of her household? What happens if he decides to move away (perhaps for his new job, or a promotion, etc)?

Also, how much is her current rent and who is her landlord, because if she has a council, housing association, or charity, as her landlord then the Housing Benefit rules may be very different (and far more generous, so a private landlord would not get the same amount).

If she (or her son) turn out to be tenants from hell, would her disabilities make it more difficult for you to evict her?

Check everything yourself, because dealing with benefit tenants can be a nightmare if things go wrong, but if all goes well then they can be excellent long-term tenants, so do extra due diligence, and I wish you the best of luck.

Gary Nock

13:54 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Martin be careful on this. I appreciate this lady is disabled and may well be in receipt of benefit. Do not let this affect your judgement. Credit reference as you would for any other tenant. And I appreciate she may not pass but then she will need a guarantor. If she says she cannot get one then I would politely explain what your criteria are for all tenants and that she cannot fulfil them. Do not say it is because she is on benefits or disabled as this breaches the Equality Act 2010. There is plenty of stuff on here about tenants on benefits and the nightmare they can turn into. I don't take them anymore due to the LAs not making direct payments until tenants are 8 weeks in arrears etc. Also check your mortgage and insurance terms and conditions. Some may say that this advice is harsh and dispassionate.As a landlord you are a businessman not a charity. Unfortunately LAs treat landlords exactly as that when they illegally advise tenants to stay put when eviction notices are served.

Jay James

18:09 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "28/03/2016 - 13:54":

"Do not say it is because she is on benefits or disabled as this breaches the Equality Act 2010."

I have heard or seen that Scotland may make it illegal to refuse a tenant because they are on benefits.

Does anyone know the legal status of refusing a tenant because they are on benefits, in England?

Gary Nock

18:17 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Jay the Equality Act 2010 applies to England. If you discriminate against your tenants on the grounds of race, sex, ethnicity, gender, or disability then you leave yourself open. But if you fairly apply criteria to all applicants then generally you are safe as long as the criteria is not seen to be discriminatory in itself in accordance with an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA)

Mike T

18:30 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

IF you turn down an appilcation for a tenancy do you have to state why you have ? Or can you just say "sorry, no" or something like that ?

Gary Nock

20:00 PM, 28th March 2016
About 3 years ago

It is safer to just say that their application does not meet the rental criteria. If you get further questioned on it then that's when you have to be careful how you phrase it. You will find that if your standard rental terms include a full comprehensive reference which includes Experian credit reference, employer reference, previous letting agent reference, plus compliance with your mortgage and insurance conditions you will have sufficient there without being discriminatory.

Martin Bailey

20:24 PM, 30th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "SHARON MOXON" at "28/03/2016 - 12:29":

Thank-you Sharon for your advice. It was a good place to start enquiries. She is sadly diagnosed with cancer, which can be treated but not cured. She likes my property because it has a stair lift and a walk-in shower and a large veranda on the side in which to house her mobility scooter. She has written verification that the Housing Benefit office will pay most of the rent, leaving just over £100 per month for her to find out of other benefits. she has verification of her PIP claim, which is a protected benefit. is this because of a cancer diagnosis?
Her son, who will start a part time job soon, can earn £114 per week and still keep his carers allowance. A low wage and carers allowance are not means tested, they say.
They have given permission for me to discuss their claim with the housing benefit office. I asked them for that after reading your advice. Thank-you.

Sharon

22:45 PM, 30th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Martin Bailey" at "30/03/2016 - 20:24":

Thank you for your Thank you Martin. I imagine (not certain) that the PIP decision is due to a terminal diagnosis.
On the son's work, you need to check how many hours the son is working as it is not just the income that counts-he needs to be able to 'care' for (i think) 35 hours per week. This is often implicit though when residing at the same address.
Please also check with HB that the son's income will not impact HB entitlement-don't just take the lady's word as she may not be fully aware. I assume that son's work is 16 hrs at NMW to be under £114? If he's on JSA, is he ending his claim or continuing & declaring his work/wages?
Sorry, probably more questions than answers!

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