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Am I a Landlord or a Nanny?

I had to ask myself that question, yet again, after the conversation I’ve just had with a tenant of mine. Bless her cotton socks, she is 21 years old, and a mother of two young ‘uns. 6 months ago, together with her partner and kids, she moved into a 2-bed property, which was right opposite a primary school, an ideal location for when her kids started school. But appearances were deceptive. The man of the house always gave one excuse or the other as to why they weren’t paying their top ups, and so they started building up rent arrears.

It transpires that the personal situation was not as rosy as it looked, and partner moved out early January. Although it is a joint tenancy, the local housing allowance claim was made only in his name, which at the time I queried, but they both said they were happy with it – a carry over from their previous residence where they’d been for two years.

As is the norm with gofmint red tape at the Council Benefits office, the nightmare of sorting out benefits after the break up meant arrears built up, and I was left with no rent coming in. Anyway, she finally sorts it out, and then we find that there is a 2-week gap that suddenly materialised when no benefits have been awarded.

At the start of the year, sensing that all was not well, I had issued a Section 21(1)(b) to take effect at the end of the fixed term. I sent her a letter at the beginning of this month, confirming I’d receive the first payment after re-instatment of the benefit (it gets paid into the Rainbow Saver Credit Union Account), informed her of the missing two weeks and asked her to go to the Council to find out why it happened, and sort it out. I also suggested she ask if she was eligible for discretionary benefits.

OK, so today she texts me to please call her, which I did. She then goes on to tell me she’d received my letter confirming the benefit was paid, and that she taken the S21 notice to the council, and they were prepared to rehouse her, but not until I’d got a court order. I asked if she wanted to move, she said “no”. I then asked why she didn’t sort out the matter of the missing HB payment, and the arrears and to my amazement, she said “what missing payment?”. So, I asked her to go get the letter, which she did, I brought my copy up on my computer screen, and asked her to read me the relevant paragraph. She goes “oh, I see”. Then she says she can’t do anything about the topup arrears that built up, and I pointed out that as the tenancy was in joint names, she was liable. She went “oh, I see”. I then asked her if she’d asked at the Council about the discretionary benefit and she said “discretionary what?”. You can imagine my frustration by now, can’t you? So, trying to remain calm, I asked her once again to read the relevant section of the letter, and again got “oh yes, I see” (favourite phrase of hers, eh?)

So, I had taken the time to point out what she needed to do, but she’d not bothered to even read the letter past the first two lines which told her I’d got the housing benefit paid over. So, remaining calm, I told her I was willing to help, but if she isn’t going to help herself by doing her bit, then I’d have to evict her. Plus, I was going to have to go after her Guarantor (mother) for the outstanding monies, if she didn’t cough up.

I find when it comes to paperwork, with some tenants, I have to take the forms to them myself, help them fill it in, collect it, and post/deliver it, otherwise, they don’t “get round to sorting it”. I get ID documents, photocopy these and send them back their original copies by recorded delivery, only to find they are calling me nearly 2 weeks later, asking when I was going to return their documents. Documents sitting at the local post office because they could not be bothered to take the red post office calling card and go collect their post!! Yikes. I deliberately use the recorded delivery option to avoid the “I never got it, must have got lost in the post” thingy. Anyway, I digressed, let’s get back to my dear tenant.

What more can I do? If she can’t be bothered to read a letter properly, or to act on information and advice given, what can be done? I find it worrying that we have a generation of young people who do not seem to be able to read properly, let alone understand what “responsibility” means, who are now themselves parents. It is scary. What are their priorities then, if not to keep a roof over their heads and give their kids a good chance in life? But you see, they can mess up in one tenancy, and the council will happily rehouse them elsewhere, without so much as blinking!!

It is not my intention to be ageist or anything, but where is it going to lead to? what are these people going to teach their children?? I am a Landlord, for goodness sakes, not a Nanny, or a school teacher.

But this gofmint would have us be everything, wouldn’t they? Nanny, Teacher, Scapegoat, Charity, etc. etc. We are business people, providing a public service that said gofmint is failing appalling to provide, but what do we get for it, thanks? Oh, no! heaven forbid. The gofmint thinks the best way to show their appreciation to us is to overwhelm us, no, strangle is more like it, with regulations and red tape, even when it is patently obvious such regs are not required or that the regs would force more of us to pull out of renting to housing benefit claimants (LHA regime), lower income earners (due to new planning regs) or even pull out of the market completely.

Wake up, gofmint. Education, education, education. Educate tenants on how to be good tenants, and stop strangling the majority of landlords who are doing a good job already. If you are going to force Landlords down the mandatory register route, them make sure you set up a Tenant Register as well, as tenants are not the saints you think they might be. Afterall, it takes two to tango …..

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