Serial benefits cheat – can I get my money back?

by Readers Question

5 months ago

Serial benefits cheat – can I get my money back?

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Serial benefits cheat – can I get my money back?

I am one of the many non resident BTL landlords in the UK who had an unknown tenant placed in my property by Oliver-Knights with a fraudulent 3 year lease in 2014. See Paul Shamplina’s article Oliver Knights shuts shop leaving landlords and tenants in despair

I was forced to honour this contract with all the attendant problems of a non-paying tenant who has systematically trashed my unit. I am presently involved in an eviction action against the tenant who stopped paying rent on receipt of a Section 21 notice in August 2017 and is now almost 6 months in arrears.

A subsequent Section 8 was ignored and I am thus pursuing an eviction order via the courts. Fortunately, the agent I have appointed to assist in this eviction, informs me that she is the same tenant he evicted from the unit next door to mine prior to her illegal uptake of possession of my property.

She has a litany of outstanding debts and judgements against her which obviously aids my case. He also informs me that she is a benefits recipient who receives inter alia; unemployed single parent and housing benefits (which she has never disclosed to me) and is a serial “professional” tenant with a repetitive history of taking advantage of the data protection and indulgent tenant laws in the UK.

My question to the forum is: am I able to approach the DWS and report this tenant and request that the outstanding rental (over GBP12 000 at present) – which she has obviously received payment for but retained – be credited to me. She also lives with a long term partner who is the father of her 5 year old child.

I would like to add that I have uploaded her details to Landlord Referencing but I am the only landlord to have done so.

Dale



Comments

Neil Patterson

5 months ago

Hi Dale,

The authorities are always very keen to claim back overpayments of benefit from landlords who had nothing to do with it, but I have not heard the same in reverse!

Martin Roberts

5 months ago

DWP Are not going to pay twice.

Good luck removing them.

Richard Adams

5 months ago

What a story Dale! Sounds like you'll get her evicted OK eventually but that leaves you £12 plus rent owing. Having judgements & debts against her in the past which she has obviously ignored and got away with due to plaintiffs not pursuing she will think she is sitting pretty if you pursue your debt. Get a judgement for your debt the process for which she will ignore and then instruct Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd to collect payment at which they are VERY good. Since she has not paid rent etc for ages being a "pro bad tenant" she must have been spending her benefits on something all these years so will likely have some goods bailiffs can take away. You won't get all you are owed most likely but while getting some hopefully you will do society a favour by teaching her a lesson.

Richard Adams

5 months ago

Typo. For £12 rent owed insert £12,000 plus!!

DALE ROBERTS

5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin Roberts at 01/02/2018 - 09:48
Having subject myself to the very discriminatory UK laws regarding landlords for the past 6 years I doubt anybody regulatory body is going to involve themselves in the blatant theft of benefits by this serial cheat. However, I thought it constructive to ask the Forum if there was some method of requesting that the DWP pay me directly until such time I am successful in my eviction.
It is unfortunate that the UK views landlords as expendable. We provide excellent housing at very discounted rates without much protection. I cannot think of any other industry which would allow someone to trash the property, not pay for the use of it, and still have the right to remain in situ - whilst the landlord is forced to accord all rental rights to the defaulting tenant and jeopardise his/her own financial well being and possibly lose the property.
Personally I do not wish to remain in the UK property market and once I am rid of this tenant, dealt with the damages and my financial losses - I will place the property on the market. And, until such time as I receive an acceptable offer, my unit will remain untenanted.
Jeremy Corbyn and his ilk can suck it up. They are the problem. Not the solution.

Simon Hall

5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 02/02/2018 - 10:20Dale it is an interesting piece of story you have written. If your tenant has been in arrears for more than 2 months then you must get in contact with your Local Council in question and they are legally required to make direct payment to you. I must reiterate the" RULE is 2 MONTHS IN ARREARS" however your tenant is 6 months in arrears, therefore you will certainly get direct payment from Council as long as she is in receipt of Housing benefit.

DALE ROBERTS

5 months ago

Thank you Simon. You have been most helpful. After waiting more than 20 fruitless minutes for the pertinent department to answer the phone - I was advised by the receptionist to direct an email to the relevant department. I have done so.
Although she also informed me that the law has "changed and benefits are only paid to the recipient. " (sic)
I copied the Council's Fraud Department in on the thread. The tenant is also 6 months in arrears with Council Tax.

The key question - is she claiming LHA from the local council or Universal Credit housing element from DWP?
If LHA a simple email to the councils housing department stating her arrears and a request to hold further payments to her and to pay you direct should stop any more payments to her and (possibly after further information is required) pay those amounts to you.
But if its UC, whilst there is supposed to be a process where you can apply for the rent element of tenants at risk of non payment/2 months in arrears to be paid direct for you, from reports on this forum it does not work very well in practice. I believe, and hope more experienced members will correct me if I'm wrong, that with UC you can get some monthly repayments of the debt from the tenants future monthly benefits after they have left. In which case you might want to consult a specialist in UC such as Caridon https://www.property118.com/live-universal-credit-horror-case-study/
Disclaimer I have no connection and have never needed to use them

DALE ROBERTS

4 months ago

Thank you DL.
A most informative posting which I shall endeavour to implement.
UK law is a bit of a minefield to me as a South African but I am quite determined to pursue this tenant for all outstanding arrears and costs - even to the point of attaching and selling whatever she owns - no matter the quantum. Yes ... I'm that angry.
This is a tenant who should never be allowed to rent from any private BTL landlord again.


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