Shelter: single mothers, bullying and how to delay eviction

Shelter: single mothers, bullying and how to delay eviction

9:45 AM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago 30

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Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, was on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Wednesday. The subject was homeless single mothers. These people are of great importance to  Shelter because it hopes to use them to get a court ruling that discrimination against claimants of housing benefit is unlawful, based on the following argument: a ban on HB claimants (both male and female) is indirect sex discrimination against women because there are more of them. I know, you couldn’t make it up!

Shelter helped to sue a single-branch agency for indirect sex discrimination, but settled out of court. This shows they had little confidence in the strength of its case, but it managed to bully the agency into paying an HB claimant £2,000 in compensation for some unexplained and hard to imagine loss or suffering. You can see how weak the case was click here.

As part of a press release in August on its mystery shopper exercise, Shelter stated that “No DSS policies could amount to indirect discrimination because women, especially single mothers, and people with disabilities, are more likely to rely on housing benefit to top up their rent.”

In the press release, Polly Neate wrote “Rejecting all housing benefit tenants is morally bankrupt” click here.

The same day Shelter’s well-fed Director of Communications, Policy & Campaigns, Greg Beales, said on TV “Our intent over the next few months is to bring a series of test cases to ask the courts to look at this closely ……to ask them to say it’s unlawful.” click here

Polly’s explanation on Wednesday’s programme for why there are so many homeless single mothers was that they tended to be poor, and that we are not building enough social housing.

Some people may think that the very existence of many single mothers is due to the fact that councils must provide accommodation for them. Pregnancy used to be the key to getting a council flat. The reason why so many of them are now in temporary accommodation (which means that they are officially described as homeless) is because there isn’t enough social housing for them.

Two single mothers appeared on the programme, about 38.5 minutes in: click here

One, a young woman with a child on her knee, complained about her temporary accommodation. She said she had left college this year to start university.

The BBC website said the mother is 21-year-old student teacher and her daughter is two: click here

Nobody asked why she thought it a good idea as a student to get pregnant and have a child without support from the father. Of course not, in these modern times no-one is expected to take responsibility.  Society will look after them.  The State will provide.

The other single mother was middle-aged, and had lived in a house for 13 years. She described how her landlord gave her a Section 21 notice in November 2016 because he wanted to sell. (She didn’t say whether it was because of Section 24).  She said she followed the council’s instruction to ignore the notice – and the court order – and wait for the bailiffs, and was then left with the bailiffs‘ bill and the court’s bill.

On its website Shelter gives the same advice that her council did:  ”Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.” it says. click here

That page provides a video of the story of Lyndsay, a benefits claimant.  She had lived in a house with her two children for four years, and her landlady had informed her a few months before the S 21 that she intended to sell, and confirmed it two weeks before issuing the notice. (She didn’t say whether it was because of Section 24.)

A housing officer at the council spotted a problem with her section 21 notice, making it invalid. “Lyndsay’s landlord had to send a second section 21 notice, which gave her another two months in her home.”

Lyndsay stayed past the expiry date on the second section 21 notice, meaning her landlady had to start court action. The court sent her a possession order four months later.

She was given six weeks to leave her home – an extension of the usual two weeks that’s sometimes given. However, she was ordered to pay £400 in court costs, because there was no legal reason to stop her eviction.”

There was “no legal reason to stop her eviction”, but the owner’s desire to dispose of the property was frustrated for seven and a half months.

Shelter’s web page states “The court can decide to:

  • dismiss the case if the section 21 notice isn’t valid
  • order you to leave if the notice is valid”

So anyone who has checked with Shelter that the section 21 notice is valid is just wasting the time of the court and the landlord by not leaving when the notice expires, because the result is a foregone conclusion. Worse still, ignoring the possession order from the court wastes more of the landlord’s time and money. If the tenant does not pay rent during this period of limbo, the landlord is at risk of having the property re-possessed by the lender.

That is really what is morally bankrupt, Polly, to use your words. So is your campaign to harass the agency Ludlow Thompson by inciting your supporters to make nuisance calls.

“Thousands of Shelter supports have contacted Ludlow Thompson’s head office to demand that it stamps out discrimination against renters on housing benefit.

“Ludlow hasn’t responded to a single message. Now we’re ramping up the pressure.

“We need you to call Ludlow Thompson directly and help us force the issue.

“If enough of us ring and flood the phone lines, Ludlow Thompson won’t be able to ignore us.” click here

Click here to down load Property Industry Eye pdf of the Shelter instructions.

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Darren Peters

14:44 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

I'm sure most landlords would be happy to house anyone Shelter advocates for when Shelter signs as guarantor.


14:50 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

if we look at the facts,
1) there is a housing crisis, we don't have enough
2) shelter provide no accommodation
3) private landlords do provide accommodation
4) shelter push for regulation to push costs up and force landlords out.
therefore private landlords are doing infinitely more to sort the problem than shelter. Shelter is making it worse, simples

Alison King

17:56 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by John Frith at 12/10/2018 - 14:17
I once worked with someone who pulled out of a house purchase because his name suddenly came up on the council housing list. I thought he was mad but he said the rent was cheap and came with the prospect of buying at a discount and selling at a profit in due course. Tenants are the same as everyone else. The younger ones are just at an earlier stage on the journey. Most see themselves as upwardly mobile and only the very cynical ones or the ones with underlying problems expect to be on benefits indefinitely.

Ian Narbeth

18:15 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 12/10/2018 - 17:56Alison
You may be right. The problem for a private landlord, especially one with a single property or a small portfolio is that if he gets a wrong'un the landlord's finances can be devastated. Even if landlords had time to sit down with every applicant, get to know them and try to assess their circumstances, mistakes can be made.
Matters are not helped by housing benefit being paid to the tenant not the landlord and Councils clawing back from landlords, not tenants, over-payments (which might in some cases be due to the tenant not having informed the Council of a change in circumstances: tenant misbehaves, landlord gets punished). Many landlords see it as just too risky. For every good anecdote you can cite, I daresay I could find ten the other way.
Right now landlords are under the cosh left right and centre with the risk that a minor mistake costs thousands of pounds. Nobody says Tesco or Sainsbury's should give thousands of pounds of credit to impecunious people or that they should be forced to continue to supply groceries without payment. Landlords are involuntary creditors and if we are lied to or cheated by tenants we are told to suck it up. If we put a foot wrong we are vilified and threatened with prison. Why are you surprised landlords are cautious?


20:37 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

well said Ian, stole my words.


21:21 PM, 12th October 2018, About 5 years ago

The serial rogue tenant who grossly misrepresented herself to gain occupation of my property is a case in point of Council/Shelter intentionally taking the role of "gatekeeper". The tenant deliberately hid her benefits status and provided a fictitious guarantor. There was no information uploaded against her on any tenant site. She was difficult, demanding and obstructive and refused any access to my property. I served a Section 21 on her two months before the end of her lease which resulted in her stopping all further rental payments - adding to her rental deficit. Her responses to the managing agent became erudite, educated and obviously copied from the desk of the Council supporting her in remaining in my unit. Previously her correspondence was barely above literate. I subsequently discovered she had a history of evictions, was a professional serial tenant and was receiving sufficient benefit payments to afford a GBP1700 monthly rental. She claimed to be a single mother to Council but in fact had moved the father of her child into my property including other adult members of her family - hence her refusal to permit access. I served a Section 8 after Council advised her to ignore the Section 21. Council further advised her to raise a spurious defense to her eviction which delayed the eviction by several more months. Only after a final court date was set for her to provide evidence for her defense claims, which she ignored, was I finally granted an eviction date. This was also ignored, the tenant quite blatantly stating that she had been advised to await the Bailiffs in order to be housed by Council. I had to apply to the Country Court again for Bailiff assistance. 8 months later I got my unit back - trashed, filthy and with a GBP3 000 heating bill to add to the GBP14 000 unpaid rental. The tenant has no scruples about milking a system she feels is open to her manipulation and this is permitted because Council/Shelter assume she requires sympathy.
The reason she can continue to steal from landlords is because the law allows her to. Thus far I have little to no hope of ever recouping my losses even though the tenant has stashed her ill gotten gains somewhere. She operates on a cash only basis and rents fully furnished from private landlords thereby successfully hiding her assets.
My story isn't unique nor is it rare.
And Council/Shelter should actually be made co-liable for my losses. After all - they provided the means and protection for the tenant to abuse a contract with supreme confidence and no accountability.


8:18 AM, 13th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 12/10/2018 - 21:21
I think that taking a service and not paying for it, is theft and should be treated accordingly. Also taking taxpayers money given to you by the council for rent and not using it for the intended purpose is also theft. I would like to see insurance companies going after the councils and/or tenants for unpaid rent when they have paid out.


11:15 AM, 13th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by John Frith at 12/10/2018 - 14:17
Subsidised rent paid for by taxpayers perhaps?

Michael Barnes

14:03 PM, 13th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Darren Peters at 12/10/2018 - 14:44
I'm sure most landlords would be happy to house anyone Shelter advocates for when Shelter signs as guarantor.

Sounds like a good idea.

Let's push for it.

John Frith

18:49 PM, 13th October 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Darren Peters at 12/10/2018 - 14:44
What a good idea.

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