Should she stay or go?

by Readers Question

9:58 AM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Should she stay or go?

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Should she stay or go?

My tenant has been in touch to advise that her partner has moved out and that she can still afford the rent if she makes a part-payment when she receives her wages and another mid-month when she receives Universal Credit.

She was late with rent twice recently but always made a part-payment on time then paid the remainder when she promised to a couple of weeks later, so I suspect he left a while ago and she’s been struggling with the adjustment in household income and wants to propose and formalise what she thinks she can manage. She isn’t asking to reduce the rent, just to pay it differently, across two payments a month instead of one.

On the one hand I can see as a now single parent she could be a great long-term tenant and that it could be to both of our benefits if I agree. On the other hand, alarm bells are ringing.

I haven’t let to benefits claimants before as I always let to Professionals who must pass a reference check which includes affordability (although she is working) and letting to claimants has never been part of my business model. I realise however that UC can be claimed for several things and as already said, she is still working.

Pros: potentially good long-term tenant (apart from the previously mentioned two blips which she made good promptly), saves evicting someone who has previously been a good tenant.

Cons: if she’s struggling, might she default anyway, if I stall impact re. changes to Section 21 to consider etc. if she then defaults, potential for income fluctuation/instability esp. Brexit uncertainty looming re. jobs (but that’s true of any tenant right now).

Anyone help me see the wood from the trees? I don’t want to kick someone when they’re down, especially when seem to be trying hard to see a way through, but equally I’m cautious/cynical!

LCH



Comments

Clint

14:06 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by LCH at 09/08/2019 - 12:51I would not enter into a new agreement as it is more than likely that there would be a minimum fixed term of six months (although, this period could be shorter as it is the same tenant that has already had a tenancy with you for six months assuming this is the case, however, I am not sure if this still applies if tenancy started as a joint tenancy) which would tie you in with a tenant you are not sure of and one that could default immediately after the tenancy is signed. The option of section 21 would then be out the window and you would have to wait at least four months to serve it.

You do obviously have the option of waiting until the tenant is two months in arrears and then applying to the courts using a section 8 notice however, the tenant may then get legal aid where you will be against a barrister and solicitor who will try their best to find loop holes irrelevant of how much is owed to you.

In staying with the current tenancy, you also have the option of chasing the husband for the rent as, although he has left, he is still responsible for the rent as the tenancy is in I believe joint names i.e. his name is also on the tenancy agreement.

LCH

14:41 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 09/08/2019 - 14:06
Thanks. My feeling on this has been to informally agree to this, without changing paperwork, so I get rent in full or in part when she can. She'll still be paying in advance evenon the part-payment scheme. Also saves paperwork changes if they reconcile (who knows?), in the mean time keeps them both liable and similarly to avoid deposit complications when dealing with deposit return at end of tenancy.

JJ

15:00 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

If she's paying you directly and you formalise the arrangement where she pays in two payments a month I can't necessarily see a big problem with this. It does depend upon how many children she has and how old they are.
The best tenant I ever had was a single mum with one child. She was actually an illegal immigrant but at the time we weren't obliged to run checks on right of residency and I did not find out until she left. From my point of view she was an ideal tenant. When she left I discovered she'd been claiming benefits, moonlighting, obtaining credit under false pretences and other stuff. But at the time that did not matter to me because she was polite, paid the rent when she said she would, kept the property clean, didn't upset the neighbours. She had one child.
My second best ever tenant was a single mum. She also had one child. She was also polite, also paid the rent on time and in full, never upset the neighbours, kept the property clean. She was moonlighting as well as claiming benefits (again I found out after she left); but that wasn't my problem because she was paying me directly.
I have had another tenant - effectively a single mum - partner away travelling for long periods - with 4 children. 4 children meant huge amounts of mess because of being totally overwhelmed.
So if she's a good mum with one or two children and a good track record of paying you I would have thought you have a good chance of her being a good tenant. More than 2 children and I think you have a problem.

Dylan Morris

15:32 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Sounds to be like she’s a really good tenant. Trying her best and communicating well with you. Probably not her fault that her circumstances have changed and I’ve had benefits tenants who didn’t out start as such initially, but everything worked out well in the end. I’d just sit tight, keep everything as it is and work with her to split the monthly rent across two payments. I wouldn’t worry about the deposit or amending the tenancy, it’s very easy to over think things sometimes. I’m sure it will all be fine.

julie shepherd

16:04 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 09/08/2019 - 15:32
I agree with Dylan on all points raised. She is being cooperative and that is a clear indication that she wants to keep on the right side of you . As long as a good and open line communication is there you have every chance of avoiding potential problems

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

16:19 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

If your tenant is on Universal Credit to make you feel at ease you could apply for an APA where he Housing Cost payments are paid directly to you.
It seems as though your tenant is trying and has been honest regarding her financial situation.
If she does fall into 8 weeks or more rent arrears you will always have the option to recover your property via the Section 8 route.

Jack Craven

16:31 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by julie shepherd at 09/08/2019 - 16:04
I hope that Selter et al read this as it shows that most landlords are careing people and only take action when sh*t on.

LCH

19:04 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 09/08/2019 - 15:00
Tenant in question 1 child but I personally wasn't factoring numbers. As an aside I myself have 2kids, the top end of your suggestion but - 1 has complex learning disabilities so whilst not 'dirty' my house is (despite me constantly spending huge amounts of energy to counter it) messy. OH often absent too so I can relate to your 'overwhelmed' 4 kids prev. tenant. A friend has 4 kids (no disabilities) easy kids house is always tidy. I have another tenant - male, single, no kids, v v v v messy but not doing 'damage' and his deposit will cover a professional clean if needed. Not always a numbers game but I could see what you meant!

LCH

19:07 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by julie shepherd at 09/08/2019 - 16:04
Thanks that's my feeling too.

LCH

19:13 PM, 9th August 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS at 09/08/2019 - 16:19
Thank you for your specific comments about APA etc (as eluded to in my initial post I have zero experience of letting to benefits claimants). Any more pointers in relation to this most welcome, specifically any pitfalls, I think if she is claiming that element then it could help both her and I to arrange this.

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