Subject to status and referencing

Subject to status and referencing

15:55 PM, 11th June 2019, About 2 years ago 110

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Might the phrase “Subject to status and referencing” be more politically correct than “No DSS”?

The only reason I can think of for using the “No DSS” phraseology is if advertising is priced on a per word or per character basis. Unless you’re advertising in a Newspaper, which is very rare in this digital age, I cannot see much point anyway.

Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, “the Department of Social Security (DSS) is a defunct governmental agency in the United Kingdom.”

With that being the case, I cannot understand why lenders T&C’s still use the phraseology, or indeed why lobbyists such as Generation Rent or Shelter have such a problem with it.

Landlords generally only want three things from their tenants:-

  1. Pay the rent on time
  2. Respect the property
  3. Respect the neighbours

Proper referencing of prospective tenants should enable landlords to make an informed choice, and to purchase Rent Guarantee, Legal Fees Protection and other forms of insurance to mitigate their risks. Therefore, in my opinion, the phrase “No DSS” is entirely superfluous to advertising.

What are your thoughts on this?



Comments

by Kate Mellor

14:52 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 21/06/2019 - 10:59
Hi JJ, I don’t take any interest in their benefits. We have a few benefits tenants hanging over from the days when there weren’t so many working tenants to choose from and some in receipt of disability benefits. Basically, it’s about assessing them using your BS radar and asking lots of probing questions, asking for evidence of anything they tell you and if anything doesn’t add up either probe until it does or walk away. You can’t keep monitoring people’s finances throughout the tenancy. It’s not practical and it’s intrusive. At the end of the day you’re not a trained benefits officer, so how on earth would you assess what your tenant’s entitled to claim?

We have some on direct payment to us and some who manage their own finances. If you get a letter saying a tenants benefits are being stopped then get straight on the phone to them and find out what’s happening. Issue a section 21 early on (which will focus both their minds and the council benefits team’s attention). We’ve had some horrors over the years but these days not so bad. I think because the area is getting more expensive and there aren’t many affordable properties and lots of competition. We can afford to be a lot pickier these days, plus you learn from your earlier mistakes.

We don’t exclude benefits tenants, but they’re competing with all other applicants & given the current state of the benefits system they’re already at a huge disadvantage against working tenants. I think it’s Robert Mellors (a Property 118 member) who has a lot of experience with the benefits sector. He can give you detailed and excellent advice on anything you’d wish to know. He’s basically an expert 🙂

by Beaver

15:19 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Kate Mellor at 21/06/2019 - 14:52
I agree entirely with "...you can't keep monitoring people's finances throughout the tenancy...it's impractical...it's intrusive...you're not a trained benefits officer...how on earth would you assess what your tenant's entitled to claim." You couldn't possibly assess their entitlement to disability allowances without access to their medical records, or their entitlement to benefits without access to all their bank statements. You don't have the powers to do it as a landlord. You don't have the right to watch what they are doing.

In one of your previous posts you said that you had had a tenant who was claiming benefits that he or she had no entitlement to, but the council did not try to claim the benefits back off you and I think you said that it may depend upon the council, and that councils may vary.

In Seething Landlord's previous post he quoted the law:

"Following the April 2006 amendments to the HB Regs, LAs must recover an overpayment caused by a misrepresentation or failure to disclose information from the person or persons who actually misrepresented or failed to disclose that information.
Before accepting direct payments, a landlord should be made aware
• of their duty to report any changes of circumstances that they might reasonably be expected to know might affect the claimant’s entitlement to benefit
• that the LA may decide an HB overpayment is recoverable from them"

So the problem with the law is that the Local Authority does not actually have the discretion *not* to recover the overpayment from the person or persons who have received the benefits; it's an obligation, they have to do it. And if as a landlord you are receiving a fraudulent benefit payment from a tenant the local authority does not actually have to bother trying to get that back from the tenant. They can just get that back from you. And it's not really even a question of that they "can" get that back from you. They have an obligation to do it.

So why would you want to take "DSS" tenants? Why would you want to run that risk?

by Kate Mellor

16:40 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 21/06/2019 - 15:19
In my cases they put the debt against the tenant not us. It was the tenant who gave wrong information not us & we can’t be expected to police the number of hours our tenants work each week, but I believe some councils go for landlords first as they know they can claw back the money more easily. Yes, there are risks involved. If you can find an employed tenant they can be a safer bet. What I would remind you is that clawbacks will be the least of your problems once universal credit comes in because there won’t be any direct payments...

by Beaver

18:04 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

So, if some councils go for the landlord first then I would have thought most landlords would be unwise to take direct payment unless they knew for sure that their council was not one of those councils, possibly had a memorandum of understanding with their council confirming what they would both do in interpreting the law.

Realistically, you are correct, no landlord can police the number of hours a tenant works each week, or be sure with any degree of certainty that the tenants are entitled to the benefits they receive because no landlord actually has the powers to check. Presumably if you were with one of the councils that didn't go after landlords the one possible benefit would be regular cash flow (I have had tenants who regularly paid part of what they owed intermittently) but in any case you would still be running an increased risk in taking tenants on benefits.

I know very little about universal credit as I have never had a tenant who was in receipt of it but if there are no direct payments then even in those cases where there had previously been a cash flow benefit this benefit would cease anyway.

In one of Amelia's posts she suggested I think taking an increased rent for people with dogs: But because, as you point out, "DSS" tenants are higher risk, and working tenants are lower risk, from a business point of view it would make make much more sense either not to take "DSS" tenants at all or to charge "DSS" tenants a higher rent to mitigate your own risk in taking them, or cover the insurance costs, or cover the other higher costs of taking "DSS" tenants.

by Kate Mellor

18:35 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

No one can answer that for you JJ. Its a decision for each landlord to make. You see obviously why so many landlords are abandoning the sector.

by Mick Roberts

19:03 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Kate Mellor at 21/06/2019 - 18:35I'm biggest HB Landlord in Nottingham & I'm abandoning the sector.

And I've loved HB for 22 years.

Well, I say I'm leaving the sector, but none of my tenants are leaving as they can't get anywhere else, so we may be together for life.
And those commenting on UC, yes u right, it's terrible. There are some positives. I have 14 tenants so far switched onto UC, 13 being paid direct to me. But regards comparing to HB, once u get your UC tenants, u will then after years of having battles with HB, wish oh wish u had HB back cause HB is was a walk in the park compared with UC.

by David Price

19:41 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 21/06/2019 - 19:03I am the second largest HB landlord in Folkestone and I too am abandoning the sector. I concur with all your comments Mick, UC is a nightmare and it could be easily fixed if the DWP was not so intransigent. Difficulty in getting direct payments combined with the total inadequacy of Housing Benefit levels and the increasing costs of compliance with the plethora of unnecessary red tape, all conspire to make benefit tenants unprofitable.

by Kate Mellor

19:43 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 21/06/2019 - 19:03
The government won’t know what’s hit them when the full results of their meddling is felt. Sadly it’s the tenants who will suffer the most and those such as yourself who’ve done the most to supplement public housing. UC & government directives are driving private landlords away in droves. 🙁 At one time not so long ago landlords like you Mick could specialise in the area and if you understand all the inner workings and have forged links with council contacts you could make it work well. You’ve certainly got a challenge on your hands now, but you never know, if you’re the only one who understands the new system you could corner the market 😉

by ameliahartman

20:43 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Obfuscated Data

by ameliahartman

21:11 PM, 21st June 2019, About 2 years ago

Obfuscated Data

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