Tenant wants new AST in order to claim housing benefit?

by Readers Question

16:49 PM, 1st June 2017
About 2 years ago

Tenant wants new AST in order to claim housing benefit?

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Tenant wants new AST in order to claim housing benefit?

I own a single 2 bed terraced property which has been let to the same working single tenant for just over 3 years. The tenant has unfortunately lost his job recently, and reached out asking if I would give him a new 6 month AST agreement which he claimed he needs in order to claim housing benefit.

I agreed to give him a new 6 month AST agreement and voluntarily offered to reduce rent by £25.

The tenant is currently late on payment by under 2 weeks, nothing to be too concerned about. My question is, if he is not able to pay, will I have grounds to evict, or will I have to wait until the expiry of the new 6 month AST ?

Many thanks

Joao



Comments

Neil Patterson

16:53 PM, 1st June 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Joao,

As you have now issued a new fixed term AST you can no longer just give 2 months notice under a Section 21 as you could with a periodic tenancy.

If the tenant falls into 2 months arrears or more then you can issue a section 8 notice, but if the council are involved they will not want the tenant to make themselves homeless and will advise the tenant to stay as long as possible and make things difficult to get possession back again.

Please also see our tenant eviction page >> https://www.property118.com/evicting-tenants/

Jay James

20:42 PM, 1st June 2017
About 2 years ago

You have just been duped (in to making it more difficult to evict) by yet another tenant that is more interested in manipulating the situation than paying their way.

terry sullivan

8:45 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

do not take tenants on housing benefit. ever

Robert Mellors

9:05 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

The tenant does NOT need a new AST in order to claim Housing Benefit, he just needs a copy of the original AST (if he has lost his copy).

You really need to check what his Housing Benefit entitlement will be, if he is under 35 then he may only get the LHA rate for a room in a shared house, so if you are letting a self contained property (e.g. your two bed house) to him he would not even get the LHA rate for that (though there are a few exceptions). If 35 or over, then he would get the LHA rate for a 1 bed self-contained property. NOTE: the HB/LHA "rate" is NOT the same as the rent charged, it is an artificially low rate based on what the lowest rents were for those sized properties about 3 years ago!!! You can check the LHA rate on the LHA Direct website.

By giving him a new AST, you have given him a stronger set of rights than he had before and made it much more difficult to evict him. You have also put yourself in a position where you have more regulations to comply with, e.g. have you giving him an EPC? have you protected his deposit and given him the prescribed information? have you given him the government approved booklet on renting a property? - If you have not done these things then you may find yourself in serious trouble and find it extremely difficult to evict him. Have you inspected the property and issued a new inventory to accompany the new AST?

terry sullivan

9:10 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

you have been mugged--he probably received advice--if you are to continue as a landlord then join a landlords group

Neil Patterson

9:13 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

I had exactly the same request for the same reasons. Given my dodgy tenant I refused. A letter to the council confirming there was an AST and it was now periodic did the trick.

Ian Narbeth

9:49 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Joao
I doubt you would have offered a tenancy to him if he were a new tenant turning up and announcing he had lost his job. However, you are where you are. Assuming rent is payable monthly then once there are over two months arrears you can take action to evict under s8 Housing Act http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2
However, you should take professional advice. You should not try eviction on your own.
In the meantime it is worth meeting with your tenant to discuss his situation. Notwithstanding some of the comments on this thread, the tenant may genuinely have fallen on hard times and may get himself sorted out. However, if you get excuses and evasions and an unwillingness to meet then I would prepare myself to take swift action.

Dr Rosalind Beck

12:26 PM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

I was duped in this way many years ago - granted the new tenancy, didn't know I had to get the guarantor to sign a new guarantee, the tenant stopped paying and never got the £1000 odd arrears - in fact, the guarantor was about to pay when she realised she didn't have to.

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

14:25 PM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

I suspect that the Council are currently assessing his claim for Housing Benefit hence why you have not received payment.

In the event a situation like this occurs again I would suggest that you write a letter to the Housing Benefit department verifying the tenancy date and rental amount as stated by Neil.

Putting him on a new agreement merely means that you can not serve a notice under Section 21 until after month 4, if there is a breech in contract such as non payment of rent and the tenant is in 8 weeks or more rent arrears, you can apply for possession using the Section 8 Notice at anytime.

Paul Green

17:31 PM, 2nd June 2017
About 2 years ago

Firstly without a job he did not meet the income criteria, secondly, if you do issue an AST to someone with no income, get a guarantor to pay if the tenant can't ...I would of said to him NO....then the council would of helped him become he was homeless, although if he's not seen as vulnerable then, he would of been left on the streets by the council. That's there policy. You can't get a loan or drive a car off a forecourt without an income, so why would you give a tenant the keys to your house/flat or in this case a new 6 month deal.....

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