Tag Archives: social housing

The Social Housing crisis and Landlords Landlord News, Latest Articles

Paul Shamplin of Landlord ActionIn May last year I did a TV programme called The One Show, where they filmed me serving a section 8 notice on a LHA tenants at 7am, they had kept the landlords rent of £4,000.

This piece was about the launch of the trial version of ‘Universal Credit’, which I warned would be not be appealing to landlords. Under the ‘Universal Credit’ scheme, the tenants would be paid their LHA, with other benefits on a twice monthly or monthly basis. This means that many tenants who were unable to manage their money, or were in debt, would ultimately fail to pass on the rent to their landlords.

The ‘Universal Credit’ scheme has been delayed and is now supposed to be launched in 2015. I read recently that £621million so far had been spent on this pilot scheme, trialling with less than 2000 benefit tenants in Greater Manchester. There has also been a debate that the IT system built to manage the scheme, is not working properly and indeed is not fit for purpose.

The Housing Benefit /LHA systems have been constantly changing for landlords in the last few years.

It all started to go wrong in 2008, in my opinion. The previous government decided to issue direct payments of Housing Benefit to tenants instead of landlords, to empower them, so they could take responsibility for their own budgets. This resulted in mass arrears, subsequently causing more evictions and those tenants being made homeless. I should stress however that there are many benefit tenants that can manage their finances. Statistically an LHA tenant will look after a property better and stay longer, which landlords like.

Then in 2011 this government introduced the capping of housing benefit, which made sense, because we have come across cases, of some landlords before the cap coming in, making over £4k a month on a 3 or 4 bedroom houses in some London boroughs. This of course resulted in landlords serving section 21 notices to end tenancies, as the cap became too low in some cases. Frustrated landlords evicted the LHA tenant and rented out to private tenants.This did not present an immediate problem, as rents were rising and it became a landlords market, governed by supply and demand, especially in London.

We have heard of situations recently of families being moved from London to Stoke On Trent and this can be upsetting and unsettling for those concerned. This will happen more and more, because currently we have council waiting lists running from 10-20 years and not enough properties being constructed. It is currently estimated that we need 200,000 extra homes a year to be built, which has never been achieved. The argument constantly heard is that tenants should only live in a place that they can afford.

There is also an alarming temporary housing crisis, many councils are struggling to find people temporary accommodation. We have heard of some desperate families ending up in Premier Inn Hotels. By law someone is only supposed to be put in temporary housing accommodation for up to 6 weeks.

On top of all of this we now have the ‘Bedroom Tax’. When an extra room at a property is not used, it is taxed and families are having their benefit cut, resulting also in an all-time high in the use of food banks. The government has set up a fund called Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help councils deal with hardship cases, and many councils have turned down three quarters of the people asking for help. As an example Leeds City Council spent 105 % of its budget, more than £2m, by 12th February and still had to turn 2,200 people away. This equates to almost 40% that applied for help under DHP.

I outline my main fears below-

We know what’s going on at the sharp end of things, as we act and speak for landlords on a daily basis. More and more of them are evicting LHA tenants and are stating that they plan on exiting the LHA market entirely, the reasons are as follows;

‘The tenants housing benefit has been capped and I’m not getting the rent I should be getting.’

‘The tenant has been told to stay in the property by the council, so they have to obtain a possession order, so they can be re-housed.’

‘The tenants benefit has been withdrawn.’

‘The tenants have kept the housing benefit and not passed it on.’

‘I can get more rent on the open market, not renting to an LHA tenant.’

Lastly the biggest issue I have with LHA’ Universal Credit’ is this. Cutting benefits may or may not get people back into work but more likely it is going to have an opposite effect. More people will be evicted, because of cuts in benefit and landlords not wanting to rent to LHA tenants, because of the fear they won’t get their rent. If the landlord has the security that the LHA will be paid direct to them, then that’s a good start. I’m sure the councils would welcome it, not draining their resources and putting extra pressure on already overstreached arrears departments and having access to more landlord’s properties. Landlords will also opt to stay in the sector rather than leaving and renting exclusively to private tenants, where demand is very strong and shows no signs of slowing down.

Paying rent late will hit credit score Latest Articles

Of interest, I think, to fellow landlords; Experian expects to include 600,000 rental records by year-end of tenants who pay late, starting with social housing and expanding to all private rentals. Lenders will have access to the information next year. Paying rent late will hit credit score

Tenants who get a black mark will could ruin their chances of securing a mortgage, credit card or being accepted by their next landlord. Missed payments will damage a credit score, regular payments will improve it ……

United Nations call for Bedroom Tax to be Axed Landlord News, Latest Articles

The United Nations special investigator on housing Raquel Rolnik has said that the Bedroom Tax could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing.

Rolnik, a former urban planning minister in Brazil, has has told the government it should abolish the bedroom tax, after investigating how the policy was affecting vulnerable citizens during a visit to the UK, and said Britain’s good record on housing was being eroded by a failure to provide sufficient quantities of affordable social housing, and more recently by the impact of welfare reform.

Rolnik said she was disturbed by the extent of unhappiness caused by the bedroom tax and struck by how heavily this policy was affecting “the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the people who are on the fringes of coping with everyday life”. “I was very shocked to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this decision and why – being so vulnerable – they should pay for the cost of the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis. People in testimonies were crying, saying ‘I have nowhere to go’, ‘I will commit suicide’.”

Rolnik reported that council officials, were struggling to cope with the repercussions of the Bedroom Tax’s introduction, because there is a shortage of single-bedroom properties for tenants move down to. She said “It’s so clear that the government didn’t really assess the impact on lives when it took this decision. The mechanism that they have in place to mitigate it, the discretionary payment that they provide the councils with, it doesn’t solve anything, it’s for just a couple of months, and the councils cannot count on that on a permanent basis, they don’t know if it’s going to be available next year, so it’s useless.”
Rolnik confirmed that the bedroom tax could be a violation of the human right to adequate housing. If for example the extra payments forced tenants to cut down on their spending on food or heating their home. She said her conclusions should carry weight in British courts, where a number of legal challenges to the bedroom tax are under way. “It depends on how much the judiciary here takes into account the international legislation. In principle they should because the UK has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “It is surprising to see these conclusions being drawn from anecdotal evidence and conversations after a handful of meetings – instead of actual hard research and data. Britain has a very strong housing safety net and even after our necessary reforms we continue to pay over 80% of most claimants’ rent if they are affected by the ending of the spare room subsidy.”United Nations calls for bedroom tax to be axed

Landlord fits new front door and doesn’t give tenants the keys! Latest Articles

I have rented a property from a Landlord and let the property on a corporate let to a Charity who then place social housing tenants to live in it.

Yesterday, without asking me, or giving me notice, the property owner changed the front door, and therefore the lock, and omitted to give me or anyone else keys.

Between 10 and 11 pm, four new tenants arrive with all their stuff to find they cannot get into their new home and have to be put up in hotels for the night.

It took until 3 am to sort it all out last night with cab fares etc on top. The front door fitted also has only a Yale lock, so will not conform for our insurance purposes. To top it off I had fitted new locks to the existing front door to increase security in the first place.

Where do I, the charity and the tenants stand on this?

Many thanks Ednew open door

Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords?!!! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

As everyone knows bedroom tax is not  tax, but the above is a handy way to refer to it. Bedroom Tax affecting private landlords

Earlier this year I received a simple very clear brief about this, written by the chief housing officer of Purbeck District Council..  The essential features of the measure are:

  1. It only applies to people of working age.
  2. It only applies to people who are receiving Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance or whatever else it may be being called to pay their rent.
  3. It only applies to those living in social housing, i.e. Council Housing, housing provided by a Housing Association, or by some other Registered Social Landlord.
  4. It is concerned with “spare” bedrooms.  Thus for example a household of one or two parents and one child is considered to need a 2-bedroom dwelling.  If this family is living in a 3-bedroom dwelling it has a “spare” bedroom. The benefit paid will be reduced by, I think, 14%.  The same principle applies to smaller families, larger houses, etc.

The purpose of this measure is to free up  publicly funded accommodation which is under occupied for households who need larger dwellings, as we all know.

In the light of this I have been surprised to read and hear of private landlords whose tenants are having their benefit payments reduced, essentially on the grounds of under occupation.  Now it is happening to me!

This has prompted me to contact the local councillor who is Chairman of Housing at our local council who in turn asked the chief housing officer whether the rules had changed since early in the year.  The answer is that they have not.  They remain as outlined above.

What is going on?

Best wishes,

Michael Bond.

The impact of bedroom tax and housing benefit reforms Landlord Action, Latest Articles

The impact of bedroom tax and housing benefit reformsThe impact of the bedroom tax and reforms to housing benefit – has this led to more impoverished renters?

One of the greatest concerns for tenants with the reforms is being able to manage their finances from a weekly to monthly basis and having to deal with taking one, in many cases reduced, payment in place of the various benefits and tax-credits previously available. Continue reading The impact of bedroom tax and housing benefit reforms

Rents rising in Scotland Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News

Rents rising in ScotlandA new era for the rental sector has been confirmed with a sharp rise in rental prices across Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Property experts who have carefully tracked the state of the Scottish rental market for more than five years believe the rise could be as a result of significant changes imposed on the sector during 2012. Continue reading Rents rising in Scotland

NLA concerned by cap on Local Housing Allowance Landlord News, Latest Articles, NLA - National Landlords Association, Property News

NLA logo colourYesterday the House of Commons gave a second reading to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill which caps future increases to Local Housing Allowance rates at one per cent from 2014.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of the National Landlords Association (NLA), says:

“Capping future increases to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to one per cent risks a decrease in real terms if, as expected, inflation exceeds this level. With time, this will inevitably render private-rented accommodation unaffordable for many tenants in receipt of housing benefit. Indeed, the cap could deter landlords from investing in much needed housing for those receiving support. Continue reading NLA concerned by cap on Local Housing Allowance

Spotlight on Michelle Reid CEO of TPAS Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, PRS Centres of Influence

Michelle Reid CEO of TPASMichelle Reid

Position: CEO of TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service)

Michelle has kindly answered the following questions:-

  • How would you describe the role of your organisation in 150 characters or less?
  • What do you perceive to be the main challenges facing the PRS in the next 5 years?
  • What opportunities do you envisage for the PRS in the next 5 years?
  • How do you see your organisation working with the Good Landlords Campaign?

Continue reading Spotlight on Michelle Reid CEO of TPAS

Spotlight on Michael Gelling OBE CIHM Hon of T.A.R.O.E Landlord News, Latest Articles, Property News, PRS Centres of Influence

Michael Gelling OBE CIHM Hon, Chairperson of T.A.R.O.EMichael Gelling OBE CIHM Hon

Organisation: Tenants And Residents Organisations of England “T.A.R.O.E.”
Status: Chairperson of the T.A.R.O.E. Board

Career to date:

Michael Gelling has been a member of the T.A.R.O.E., board since it formed in 1997. He has been Chairperson of T.A.R.O.E. for nine years, standing down from this position between April and November 2010 when he was appointed by Government to Chair the short lived National Tenants Voice.

Continue reading Spotlight on Michael Gelling OBE CIHM Hon of T.A.R.O.E

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