Rent arrears – Benefit Nightmare?

Rent arrears – Benefit Nightmare?

14:21 PM, 21st April 2022, About a month ago 10

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I have a tenant who was unable to work due to health reasons. His partner left him a couple of years ago and subsequently, I’ve gone out of my way to try to find ways for him to stay in the flat because of his health.

We mutually agreed that this wasn’t viable anymore and he happily accepted the reality that I had to submit a Section 21 Eviction Notice. His plan being to take that to the Housing Department to get on the Housing Waiting List. We were told that, because of his health issues, he’ll be on the priority list. Great.

However, as soon as the Eviction Notice was served he has shut down all communication and has stopped paying the little bit of rent that he was, stating that his benefits have been suspended. I’ve been going around in circles trying to find out who to contact to firstly, inform them that the rent isn’t being paid (I now have a strong suspicion that there is no such suspension and he was just hoping that I wouldn’t chase him for the rent arrears once he’d gone). This means that I need to inform the Benefits Office that he isn’t paying his rent.

Anyone else had this? And, if so, how did you get it resolved?

Cheers

PP



Comments

by Seething Landlord

18:18 PM, 21st April 2022, About a month ago

Once he misses the second monthly payment he will be 2 months in arrears and you can then apply for direct payment of the housing element of his benefits. It is many years since I had to do this but as far as I know that is still the position.

As he has been in touch with the LA it is probable that he will have been told not to vacate until evicted by the bailiffs.

by John Mac

11:14 AM, 22nd April 2022, About a month ago

Send him a message/letter asking if he realises that by not paying rent the LA will deem him making himself intentionally homeless & therefore will not offer him a property.

Also send a copy of the housing ministers letter advsing LA to act on Sec21 notice & not wait until Tenant is homeless. ( I have a copy if needed )

by Blodwyn

12:15 PM, 22nd April 2022, About a month ago

I would respectfully suggest not to 'message' if that is not recorded on paper but to communicate in recordable form always, as the chain of communication may have to be produced at a later date if the matter ever goes to court. Best of luck!

by Kevin Fallon

15:10 PM, 22nd April 2022, About a month ago

Obviously, taking advantage of kindness, you will have to go through the full process and end up with ballifs, that's when the tune will change back to poor me. Have none of it and smile as much as he is when he is evicted.

Live And learn

by John Mac

15:14 PM, 22nd April 2022, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Blodwyn at 22/04/2022 - 12:15
Electronic communications hold the same "weight" as paper, as long as there is a record.

by M Choudhury

16:03 PM, 22nd April 2022, About a month ago

As the tenant is no longer communicating, If the tenant recieves UC, i would complete a UC47 (just search google) once complete DWP will investigate and arrange for back dated payment and arrange for the rent to be paid to the Landlord go forward, if you was on good speaking terms with the Landlord a Discretionary Housing Payment could be applied for from the Council too. Good Luck.

by Mick Roberts

8:14 AM, 23rd April 2022, About a month ago

If he's on the old Housing Benefit LHA, it's easier.
If on Universal Credit, here's the link. It's not guaranteed though nowadays, that's why many of us Specialist Benefit Landlords are no longer taking them any more.
https://directpayment.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/questions/type-of-payment

by Karen Blake

8:57 AM, 23rd April 2022, About a month ago

So much sympathy for you. I have done so much for a tenant, single father at weekends, accrued huge arrears due to Covid, LHA insufficient, mental health issues, now in rent arrears of over £9000 plus another £4000 and currently having him evicted as his 6 months notice served in July ( Wales) has risen to 9. The LA and CAB advised him to wait for eviction otherwise he wouldn't be deemed 'homeless'. The Tenancy Hardship Grant was not applied for and has now closed.
I too think he has over used his 'mental health' issue and knows he can stay until evicted without paying rent. I am resigned to never getting my money back.
He lost the most recent job in November but did not tell me until February. If a tenant does not communicate there is nothing a landlord can do and little can be found out due to the data protection rules.
I shall do as a previous commentator suggested - smile and look him in the eye as he is being evicted. I shall no longer be as sympathetic/understanding to future tenants.

by Jennifer Aniston

8:21 AM, 3rd May 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Karen Blake at 23/04/2022 - 08:57
Thank you everyone for your guidance. To update you. I sent him a text explaining that I would now be contacting the DWP directly to apply for them to pay the rent arrears that they had created because of the suspension. And lo and behold!! I receive a text message immediately saying that he'll be paying the rent arrears within the next week (he's currently paid 2/3 of it back). I've also spoken to the Housing Department and he has been made aware that he won't be eligible for housing if he doesn't pay off his rent debt because, as you say, he's made himself deliberately homeless.

I also pointed out that I am well within my legal rights, based on the original tenancy agreement, to claim back the full amount of rent which he hasn't paid for quite a long time now, which adds up to a significant amount.

Am getting there, but it's frustrating to have to play these games with tenants.

I decided quite a long time ago that my achilles heel as a landlord is always falling for a sob story and ending up with some pretty awful tenants as a consequence. So although I still manage my own properties I have handed over the responsibility for finding tenants to a letting agent. This chap is the last of a long line of bad tenant decisions. So nearly there!!

Thanks everyone.

by DSR

10:15 AM, 3rd May 2022, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jennifer Aniston at 03/05/2022 - 08:21
great! When the realisation that dawns that even if they think they can get away without paying you for rent (pre or post S21), the Housing Dept themselves don't pander to those who are in arrears etc so they wont get onto a housing list.... they tend to play ball sharpish as they have no other option!

I have a Tenant in same situation. Explained to him that after a S21 if there are arrears, when she he able to bid on a council property the first thing they do is ask for a reference from the existing LL about current status of any arrears/asbo/other issues. I explained of course I have to answer honestly (hahahah) so that if there is anything I have to tell them. As a result anything bad and they might not be offered a tenancy, so it is clearly in their benefit to comply!


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