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Tenancy void periods high but stabilised

Void periods for rental property remain high but have stabilised, according to new figures from the National Landlords Association supplied by research consultants BDRC Continental.

In March 2010, 52 per cent of landlords had experienced voids in the previous 12 month period. Although still posing a threat to landlord portfolios, this figure is a reduction from 55 per cent during the last three months of 2009. The data also showed that the average duration of voids dropped from 19 days to 17 days.

Voids level in properties

Despite a marked increase in tenant demand and a reduction in supply as ‘reluctant landlords’ are able to sell up, there is still only a slight improvement in rental voids.

Furthermore, the continuing lack of available mortgage finance for first time buyers, as well as the requirement for higher deposits, means that would-be buyers are renting for longer.

The strategy adopted by landlords for covering voids continues to vary depending on portfolio size. Although larger landlords are most able to offset the costs of voids with rent from other properties, 43 per cent of landlords claimed to use personal savings to plug the shortfall in meeting mortgage repayments.

David Salusbury, Chairman, NLA, commenting on the latest research, said:

“No landlord likes void periods. They can end up being very costly indeed. Although incidences of voids have leveled off, over half of the landlords questioned have experienced voids in the past year, albeit for a shorter length of time.

The best way to deal with void periods is to avoid them altogether. As with many issues in the letting of residential property, open and respectful channels of communications between landlords and tenants will pay dividends.”

The NLA has published its top tips aimed at helping landlords steer clear of rental voids:

  1. Price. Is your property priced sensibly? The aim is to let a property as quickly as possible, so consider whether holding out for the ‘right price’ is the best strategy. It might be worth accepting a lower rent in order to secure new tenants.
  2. Finishing touches and incentives. Not only should your property be in a good state of repair (including a well kept garden) but increasingly landlords have to think about the ‘added extras’ nowadays. It is often the finishing touches which show potential tenants you are letting a home not just a property. Have you considered garden furniture, flat screen TVs or wireless broadband?
  3. Marketing. Is your property being marketed in the right place? The overwhelming majority of tenants are looking for their next move using the Internet. Ensure photographs of your property show it in the best light: clean, tidy and looking like somewhere you would want to live yourself.
  4. Don’t be greedy. If you have good existing tenants, then think very hard before choosing to put the rent up. In the current market, as long as the rent is covering any mortgage repayments, you might want to think twice about rocking the boat.
  5. Communication. Your tenants are your clients. If you take your lettings business seriously, then you should be available and quick to respond to your tenants’ concerns. Organising repairs professionally and taking time to treat the smallest of problems shows the tenant you value them. In turn, they should treat your investment with respect.

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You can get more information on this report here, as well as general advice on landlord and tenant issues, on the NLA website.

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    Posted in Lettings and Management.

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    Am I a Landlord or a Nanny Pt 2

    My tenant, whom I previously told you about here, bless her cotton socks, is getting further into arrears. At first her mother, who is her Guarantor, ignored my letters, until she got one that stated that I would start legal process to recover the rent arrears, as well as evicting her daughter and grand kids.

    That seemed to wake her up, and she finally decided to call. But her call was to tell me that she did stood guarantor for the house, and not for the rent. Now, I didn’t take the call, but when the message was passed on to me, I must admit I kinda wondered if I’d heard correctly.  I tried to work out exactly what she might have meant, but gave up.

    She signed a deed of guarantee that states

    The Guarantor(s) will indemnify the Landlord(s) in respect of any losses incurred by the Landlord(s) as a result of any breach of the terms of the Tenancy Agreement on the part of the Tenant(s).”

    So, how clear is that statement? No fudge, right?  At least she can’t tell me she couldn’t read or understand what she was signing, but then everything is ok until the crap hits the fan. Then its a “blame” game. Tenant does not pay full rent, means tenant is in breach of terms of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement. Meaning the Landlord can look to the Guarantor to pay the bill, as the Guarantor promised to do when they signed the Deed of Guarantee.

    Anyways, I finally managed to speak with the Guarantor today, and when I asked when she intended to pay up, she gave me some cock and bull story about not being able to afford it and could she pay in installments. I asked what the proposed installment plan was, and I had to stop myself from laughing when she told me. NO, I won’t insult you either by telling you. I told her the proposal was unacceptable, and that we’ll meet in court, and rang off.

    Then about an hour later, I called my tenant and asked her when she intended to pay up her arrears, and she came right back and said her mum had made a proposal and that was that. The amount being proposed won’t even cover the top up going forward, let along make any inroads into the arrears. Anyway, I told my tenant that the proposal was unacceptable and she said “my mum has been to see a solicitor, and the solicitor said you can’t refuse to accept an offer made to you“. I do love it when they say they’ve been to solicitors… its like a red rag to bull, particularly when I know the paperwork is water tight. I kept hold of my temper, and very nicely told my dear tenant, to shove their offer up somewhere else, and that I’d see them both in court. I also told her to tell the nice solicitor who gave the advice to act for her mum when it does come to court – she ain’t got a leg to stand on!! I will collect every single penny.

    Oh, and when I asked her when she was moving out, she replied “as soon as possible“. Eh, excuse me… when exactly? “well, I don’t know, I’m waiting for the council to find me somewhere else“.  I wasn’t surprised by it, I know the drill and had already concluded that I’d have to play the game again.  So I’ve got a form N5B to send in this week, plus spend another £150 that I am not going to get back. As if I needed more paperwork!! When will governments realise that we are not charities and get their fingers out and pass laws that will mean we get justice!! Oh, I forget, there’s no such thing as justice when it comes to matters of law….

      Posted in LHA, Tenant Eviction.

      Tagged with , , , , , .


      My brush with a “professional” tenant

      Appearances often are quite deceptive. And so it turned out to be with the supposedly nice young couple (Mr D & Ms S) that I took on as tenants in a 2-bed ground floor flat. These two were really keen on taking on the flat and after they’d viewed it, wrote a very nice letter, explaining their circumstances. I’ll let them tell you in their own words…

      Well, what do you think? They sounded quite genuine, seemed to have their head screwed on the right way (compared to some others I’ve come across), and I do take on LHA claimants, though sometimes I do question why I still do so…… Their letter went on to say

      I spoke to them, particularly the female half of the partnership, as she was the mouth piece. After much deliberation, I decided to give them a chance. After all, we all deserve a chance in life and they were at the time living in a shared house, and wanted their own space.

      They duly completed the application form, with requisite supporting documents, and I then went through the usual tenant checking process, including references from landlord etc., credit checks (Mr D was previously working), and crucially, I made a point of speaking with their current landlord, who gave a good reference. They moved in before we’d finished some of the redecoration that was planned, but which was completed the following week, to include all new new carpets (bedroom) and laminate flooring (hallway & lounge).

      Then it was one thing or another, and my maintenance man was backwards and forwards to the property like a yoyo. Mr D was the one who contacted us to report maintenance itmes, and he  preferred to make contact by email, and we would respond both by email and letter.  Just when we thought everything was sorted and settled, I got a call from a nice gentleman from the Local Authority, an Environmental Health Officer who claimed my tenants had called them to complain about various things, some of which we were not even aware of, and he’d gone to inspect the house etc. etc. and wanted to meet with me. Some of the items were – front door was sticking, loose tap in kitchen, end bath panel missing/removed, one element of gas fire not working, one broken power socket (which was fine when they moved in). But, what shocked me was he claimed there was no gas safety certificate for the property. I nearly hit the roof, as I’d given them their copy on the day they moved in. I am an accredited Landlord, for goodness sakes, and know what the law says about that. So, I duly scanned and email my copy to the EHO showing both boiler and gas fire were safe, and told him we’d see to the other issues, which we did.

      But not satisfied, the tenant called the EHO’s office to report that he was concerned about the “delay” in resolving the matters he had reported. It would seem that the EHO was too slow in contacting us, etc.etc. and anyone who knows how the system works knows the EHOs are overworked as it is, with too few of them, and too many scumbags like these ones trying to work the system. And of course we were also too slow in responding. What ever happened to the idea of  “using the property in a tenant like manner?”

      My tenants are all given full contact details for us when they move in, phone, fax, mobile, email…… and told the procedure for reporting maintenance issues. Our dear tenants conveniently forgot, didn’t they? When I asked them why they had not reported the issues to me, and how come the Council got involved, Mr D told me it just happened that someone from the council visited them (yeah, right!!) and wanted to know how they were getting on etc.etc, because they were DSS. You and I know, that does not happen, and unless the Council is called in, no-one just turns up to check on a tenant’s well-being. They obviously thought I was not clued up and it would seem they were intent on trouble from the start.

      It turns out this lovely tenant of mine, Mr D, who claims they were not given a gas certificate, and all other manner of untruths, had wanted to put a radiator cover over the fire in the lounge, and my Gas Safe plumber who had gone to see to another complaint they’d apparently made, told the tenant in no uncertain terms what would happen if he did that.

      By the end of the third month, I’d had enough, and with the deposits paid to that point registered with DPS, issued them with a S21(1)(b) notice requiring possession, and reminded them that unless I heard from them by a certain date to confirm if they wanted to continue beyond the fixed term or not, I would work on the basis that they were leaving at the end of the fixed term.

      What happened next would be funny if it was not so contrived. The story continues …….

        Posted in LHA, Maintenance, Tenant Behaviour.

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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 …..

          Posted in LHA.

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          Government Vendetta Against Landlords

          We have recently been hit with a set of new proposals by this gofmint, which they allege is to bring private rented property up to standard and give tenants more rights. Of course, the social housing sector is exempt (as it always is when gofmint tinkers with housing regulations), thereby ignoring the myriad of problems that exist with housing standards in that sector. But I digress.

          The Housing Minister, John Healey recently announced that the government will:

          1. set up a new website on which tenants can post their views on their landlord and their accommodation
          2. launch a new National Landlord Register to enable tenants to see how well prospective landlords maintain their properties and how quickly they fix any faults with them
          3. make it a legal requirement for all tenancies to have written agreements, to ensure that tenants are clear about their rights from the outset
          4. put in place tougher regulatory regime to drive out rogue letting agents

            And then to cap it, the Treasury announced a consultation today on the role the private rented sector can play in increasing the supply of housing, as well as what measures the Government can take to remove any barriers to investing in rental properties.

            Now where do I start??

            It is obvious to anyone reading these pronouncements that this gofmint aint sure whether it wants to attract private landlords or wage war against them. It can’t do both simultaneously, and it really needs to rethink its strategies, and stop this vendetta.

            Did anyone notice the lack of the word “responsibility” in the gofmints’ references to tenants. Its all “rights”, “rights” and more “rights”. Where, in the name of all that is good, is the “responsibility” side of it??  You give people rights without spelling out the responsibilities that go hand in hand with those rights? That’s why this society is in the sorry state it is in. Everyone is so focussed on rights, responsibilities just don’t come into the equation. You cannot have rights without responsibilities, both go together. My favourite way of expressing this is that “rights and responsibilities are like the two halves of a pair of scissors, you cannot have one without the other TM”.

            The gofmint should be seeking ways of educating tenants on how to be good tenants, and not just seek to weigh down majority of good landlords with more regulations and the attendant costs. A lot of tenants don’t bother to read their tenancy agreements anyway, and just toss it to one side or loose it. When I take on tenants, I always explain the main points of the tenancy to them, that it is a legally binding contract, and they are expected to behave in a “tenant like” manner, be responsible in paying rent in full and on time, keep the house in good condition, report any maintenance items to me promptly, not cause nuisance to neighbours etc. In return the Landlord will leave them to “quiet enjoyment” of the property and maintain the fixtures/fittings that we are required to do. I encourage good communications, as that is essential.

            But some tenants just can’t be bothered. Some just don’t understand the word “contract” or “legally binding”, and think they can break the agreement if and when it suits them without any consequence whatsoever. The advice given by some Housing officers at the Local Authority also leaves a lot to be desired, seemingly aiding and abetting such tenants. You give some a good standard house to live in, and they trash it anyway.

            I welcome regulation, it will do the job it’s intended to do, and root out the rogue elements. But we in the industry live daily with the effects and consequences of the implementation of some of the badly thought out housing laws that have been spewed out in recent years. There are already enough laws in place, which if implemented properly, will achieve the goals that the gofmint is aiming for. Implementation is the key, not more laws. Hear me dear gofmint, IMPLEMENTATION, not more regulation. To implement existing laws, the Local Authorities need more staff and better training so they can do the job well. But what does the gofmint do, hit them with smaller budgets that mean more cuts in jobs and services. Then the gofmint gives more laws for those remaining to implement, and they can’t because they are understaffed and underfunded, and the cycle goes on ……

            If this gofmint really wants to see an improvement in the standards in the private rented sector, then may I suggest that the government should:

            1. set up a new website on which landlords can post their views on their tenants and identify those “tenants from hell”
            2. launch a new National Tenant Register to enable landlords to see how well prospective tenants have behaved in previous tenancies or if they’ve left owing rent
            3. make it a legal requirement for all tenants to attend courses as landlords are expected to do and become accredited or licensed, showing they understand their rights and responsibilities
            4. put in place tougher regulatory regime to drive out rogue letting agents (amen to that)

              The gofmint can encourage faster/better response to repairs and investment in property by removing VAT on repairs, and making grants available to Landlords for some essential repairs. For example, in my neck of the woods, replacing a gas boiler costs a minimum of £1200 if you are lucky and have a friendly Gas Safe plumber, £1700 on average, and £2,200 or more if you are desperate. Plus VAT. Most landlords just don’t have that kind of money sitting around, and when the need arises, have to find the funds somehow, otherwise the tenant and council officials go all gong-ho. For portfolio landlords, its even more dire if 2 or 3 go pop as they tend to do, all at once!! There are any numbers of ways to help private landlords, if this gofmint is willing to listen rather than regulate.

              So, dear gofmint, stop the vendetta. It aint gonna help you get more stock into the private rented sector. Trust me.

                Posted in Housing Regulations.


                Tenants’ classic ruse of claiming disrepair

                In light of the recent proposals by the gofmint to link payment of LHA to housing standards, the phone call that I’ve just had has caused me to wonder yet again if they’ve thought through, or even thought about it at all, the shenanigans that tenants get up to when it comes to making allegations of disrepair.

                The caller was a nice chap from the Housing Standards dept of the Council wanting to talk about a one of my properties. It appears that the tenant, who has very famously spent her LHA on other things in the past, as a result of which the LHA is now being paid direct to me, and who is in the process of being removed via the S21 process, has decided to go down the “claiming disrepair” route. She has been a particularly devious and ungrateful tenant, who has no compunction about lying, or at least being economical with the truth. And she has a young son to bring up!! I feel for the young man, I really do.

                Miss H, as I will refer to her, spent the LHA at the start of her tenancy last year, and then tried to say that the Council had paid it into the wrong account etc. etc. She even used the ruse of paying in a cheque into the nominated account, then reporting her cheque book stolen, resulting of course in the cancellation of the cheque, and a further reprieve whilst she attempts to find the money!! She couldn’t produce her statement of account to enable us and the Council verify that she hadn’t received the LHA, even when I offered to pay for any cost incurred in getting the bank to give her copies. After several weeks of toing and froing, she eventually admitted to receiving the LHA and spending it – something I already knew – but as she’d run out of room to run, she gave up. I’m a sucker for trying to keep a roof over the heads of young single mums, but I suppose it comes from being a parent of young kids myself. Anyway, we came to a payment arrangement which she broke after the second instalment. I told her the tenancy would not be renewed at the end of the fixed term, and she pleaded and pleaded and asked for another chance and all that stuff – and I fell for it again….  sucker!! Guess what, the second arrangement fell apart after only the first payment instalment. So, I decided enough was enough and I would apply for possession of property.

                This is when the disrepair shenanigans began. First she goes to another Local Authority, which was where she had been prior to moving to my property, and claimed that we had not turned up to carry out some repair to a door, as we’d agreed to do. Imagine my surprise, getting a call from a housing officer from this LA, asking me about repairs to a property that is not in his jurisdiction!! Ms H was trying to get on the housing list there and rubbishing me, so I explained that Ms H was trying it on, enlightened him about the situation with rent arrears etc., and he thanked me and rang off. Never heard from him since.

                Then today, I get the call from the housing officer from the LA for the property, wanting to arrange a meeting at the property due to the “concern that the tenant had expressed about some damp issues in the property”.  It was not unexpected, and I had a good chat with the officer, and gave him the facts about the matter, which he was unaware of. Ms H had not given him those facts, and she seemed to be picking alleged disrepair items at will or to suit. Anything to try to deflect the authorities from her misdeeds and blame the landlord. She obviously knows the system and how to work it, but still can’t get it round her head that she’s no match for me and can’t get around me like that. In the word’s of the Dragons in the Den “she’s out”.

                And just as we came to the end of the conversation having arranged a date and time to meet at the property, the officer mentioned that another T in same LA had reported disrepair. Now, with this one, I am really surprised – they even claimed they didn’t have a CP12!! For goodness sake… They claimed that lock on front door isn’t working properly, a socket is broken, the joint bar for the newly laid laminate is not done properly, middle bar of gas fire not working … I didn’t hit the roof, I just told the nice officer that as an accredited landlord, I’d know better than to put someone in a property without a valid CP12! and if the fire was not safe, my Gas Safe plumber would have capped it off. He then says to me that “you obviously know what you are talking about and know what is right”, etc. etc. and we agreed on a way forward. Anyway, guess what, my dear tenants had recently missed a topup payment…. and looking for an excuse.

                So, when will tenants learn that alleging non-existent disrepair will not remove their responsibility for paying rent? and if they don’t pay rent, they limit the Landlord’s ability to carry out their responsibility. If there is no rental income, what is the Landlord supposed to use for effecting maintenance and repairs – cowrie shells? monopoly money? And when will they learn that reporting bogus direpair is not guaranteed to enhance landlord-tenant relationship? Tenants like these almost make the word “compassion” a dirty word to even consider.

                And all this even before the gofmint’s proposed  Landlord Feedback Website is put in place. If tenants cry foul at whim now, what are they going to do when there is an official website in place, licensed by the gofmint, for the sole purpose of bashing landlords? When will the gofmint learn that tenants need educating on their responsibilities, and giving them rights without emphasising the responsbilities that come with those rights is tantamount to legalised abuse/theft, call it what you want.

                Heaven help us all.

                  Posted in LHA, Maintenance, Tenant Behaviour.

                  Tagged with , , , , .


                  Nutcase responds to advert

                  I must tell you this story, sad but true ….

                  I have a property that is advertised in the local paper, and had block viewing arranged for Saturday afternoon. I do the block viewings thing when I have a property to let that is some distance away from me. That way, the trip is worth doing.

                  On the way to the property for the viewings, I got a call on the mobile, which I couldn’t take, and as the dial code was that of my destination area, called the number back a few minutes later. It turns out to be a woman who wanted more information about the property. Anyway, she asked various questions, you know, the usual how big are the bedrooms, is it double glazed, gardens, features, décor etc. Then she suddenly, she says, “I’m not interested in your property. You private landlords are all the same, I’ve spent all morning on calling and its costing me so much money just to call you, and I don’t want to view the house” and put the phone down on me. Ironic isn’t it? I was the one who was paying for that particular call, but that was lost on her.

                  Not quite ten minutes later, she rings me again, this time on her mobile. I answered the call and the first sentence was “can I come and view the property?” I was stunned for a few seconds, then suddenly recognised the voice and realised it was the woman who’d just put the phone down on me, and so I calmly answered “of course you can, I’m on my way there now, so just drop in anytime between 12noon and 1pm”, gave her the house number and she assured me she’d be there, and the conversation ended with “see you there then”.

                  Imagine my surprise then when at about 12.30pm, a text message comes through on the mobile, and on checking it found this:

                  Sorry i dont wish to view your property i have gone through phycotic landlords after viewing there property and the alligations are completely out of character its a complete waste of time infact the journal will be notified on how you all pay for the advert and how you speak to us im not that desperate and really i dont wish to view anybodys property speak or give any of my details to you or anyone ever again u landlords push for money which you are nice then then u give every effort to whind or upset the person thats just paying or wanting to live and pay and look after your property as you may do im not the one thats neglected youR House or houses as landlords its the way u treat us now ask yourself why ur propertys are empty after so many months of basically being treated by you all like basic crap but thats just the town its not the phoning the trip down to the bank of your nasty small print

                  I kid you not. Obviously this person has never heard of punctuations, capital letters, proper sentences – even if its text-speak!! If anyone can make sense of this unprovoked diatribe, I should be pleased to hear it.

                  What a nutcase. She never did tell me her name, nor did I ask. No one forced her to respond to the advert in the first place! And to have a go at someone like that, without any justification, really takes the biscuit. I’m glad she’s not my tenant, and I do sympathise with whomever her current landlord is.

                  The viewings went well, and I now have an applicant who filled in the application form and put down a holding deposit there and then. I am now carrying out the necessary referencing checks, and so far so good.

                  And whilst on the topic of potential tenants, why is it that when these people view, and you can tell by their response the property is not for them, they still say to you “thank you, we’ll call you and let you know”. Why not just thank the person conducting the viewing for their time, say its not the right property, and be done with it. It is lying, even if they don’t see it as such. Its become such a normal action that people don’t even think about it, do they?

                  Landlords, be careful – there are some nutcases out there disguised as potential tenants. Keep them as potentials, rather than actuals and your life will be a lot easier.

                    Posted in Lettings and Management, Property, Tenant Behaviour.

                    Tagged with , , .


                    Tenant Shenanigans to postpone eviction

                    Continuing the saga of my tenant Mrs F, who is due to be evicted on Thursday … I was just about to call the police to arrange for assistance on an if-needed basis, when the phone rang. It was the solicitors acting for Mrs F. They claimed that she would be moving out, but the property she was moving into was not ready, and asked if I could give her another week before moving. My response was a swift and unequivocal, NO. The solicitor tried again, and put the question slighlty diferently, and the answer was still No, this time I explained that her client, my soon to be ex-tenant, had completely used up all the goodwill that was available to her, and I was not prepared to suffer another week of no rental income. Eventually, solicitor rang off, and I put down the phone, relieved that I had not lost my temper.

                    The cheek of it! This is the same tactic that this tenant had used all along – promise to pay tomorrow, next week, the following week, next month …… endless. Give her due credit for trying though! Tenacious in her duplicity. With no proof of where she was moving to, what state the place was in, nothing at all, the solicitor expected me to give Mrs F leave to remain past the eviction date!! And these are solicitors for goodness sake, who are supposed to be versed in housing law??Maybe they are not. Whatever!

                    No, I’ve had enough of being mucked about by Mrs F. Enough is enough. Roll on Thursday.

                      Posted in Tenant Eviction.


                      LHA – Guidance ammended on Direct Payment to Landlords

                      We are winning, we are winning!!

                      As you all know, for our tenants that claim LHA, we have to wait until they were actually over 8 weeks in arrears – including time served – as they used to say in the council. This meant usually a 3 month arrears situation for most landlords.

                      You may also recall that there was a Tribunal ruling in Oct 2009, where the Judge ruled against Coventry Council and stated that the guidance to local authorities that rent was not in arrears until the time had been served was wrong. Landmark ruling, which seems to have turned things around.
                      This is the statement the Judge made at the time:

                      Rent is in arrears once the contractual date for payment has passed irrespective of whether rent is due in advance or in arrear. Regulation 95 of the 2006 Regulations refers to a liability to pay rent and the liability in this case is to pay rent in advance

                      Thanks Judge CJ Jones, for bringing sanity into back into the matter.

                      The government seems to have taken heed of that ruling – Hallelujah!! Sanity has finally prevailed.

                      The Department of Work and Pensions now agrees that, when a tenant has already skipped payment of one month’s rent, the landlord can claim the arrears on the day after the second monthly payment is missed.

                      The DWP issued a revised Guidance Manual in Dec09, and the guidance manual now states: “

                      4.40 If the tenant builds up rent arrears of eight weeks or more, the landlord may commence action to evict them. Once arrears have reached eight weeks, you will be required to make direct payments to the landlord under the general provisions in Regulation 95 (1)(b) unless it is in the overriding interests of the claimant not to do so (see Fit and proper test earlier in this chapter).


                      4.41 Rent is in arrears once the date it is due to be paid has passed regardless of whether it is due to be paid in advance or in arrears.

                      then goes on to give two examples.

                      Example 1: Rent paid monthly in advance
                      John is due to pay his rent monthly in advance on the first day of the month. He pays rent on 1st August but loses his job on 28th August. He claims HB on 28th August 2009. His rent is due on 1st September but he fails to pay his rent on that day.


                      The local authority decides to pay his HB two weekly in arrears and makes two payments equivalent to four weeks rent during September. The tenant does not pass any of his benefit to his landlord.


                      He fails to pay another month’s rent when it is due on 1st October. On the 2nd October he is in arrears by two months’ rent. The landlord advises the local authority. The authority should make payments direct to the landlord from that point.

                      Example 2: Rent paid weekly in advance
                      Suki pays her rent weekly in advance but gets into difficulty when she stops work. She claims HB on 30th October 2009 and fails to pay her rent on the 2nd and the 9th November.

                      She gets her first fortnightly payment of HB in week commencing 16th November but
                      fails to pay any rent to her landlord. The local authority is unaware of the situation until the landlord contacts them on 22nd December to say that she has missed eight weeks’ payments.

                      The local authority makes direct payments to the landlord from that date.

                      The guidance also says that:

                      4.42 In both these examples the local authority must pay the HB to the landlord because the tenant is in arrears by eight weeks unless it is in the tenant’s overriding interests not to do so. However,if the local authority becomes aware that the tenant is failing to pay their rent before eight weeks worth of payments have been missed it should consider direct payment under the safeguards. Additionally, if there is already a history of non-payment it would be prudent to make direct payments to the landlord for a maximum period of eight weeks while a decision is being reached.

                      So folks, don’t let the Ts get away with any more than they have to.

                        Posted in LHA.


                        First Tenant Eviction of 2010

                        Whilst its not the sort of thing to start the new year with, it is never-the-less quite appropriate. A bit of “out with the old and in with the new” theme-if you see what I mean. Did anyone listen to Jeremy Vine show on 24-12-09? It was based on that theme… good show Jeremy!

                        Anyway, the ongoing case with my errant tenant Mrs F, seems to be coming to its inevitable conclusion. During the lull between christmas and new year, a white envelope dropped in to my letter box postmarked from one of the county courts in Lincolnshire. That stumped me a bit, cos I wasn’t expecting any missives from that particular court. It turns out however to be the Notice of Appointment, for the Bailliff to evict Mrs F, who lives in another Lincs town some 20 odd miles away-whose story you already know. The court hearing had taken place in a different court some 15 miles from where the property is located. Are you confused? yeah, so was I. It would seem that the property is located in a town that does not have its own county court, and sits nearly half way between two other towns that do and happen to have county courts that are part of the same circuit. OK. enough of that…

                        So, having opened the envelope, a bit warily, and finding the Notice of Appointment, the whoop of delight I gave could be heard 50 miles away. 14th January 2010 is the day its all going to happen. I like to think that perhaps my call to the first court’s Bailiff office had had some impact and someone decided to do something positive. All I can say is that it was a welcome, if belated, christmas present-thank you. I duly filled in the reply slip, but waited till today to send it. Why?

                        I figured that having been helped along the way by no-win-no-fee scumbag solicitors who advised my client to ignore the possession order, it is possible we might have problems when the Bailiff attends. I can just imagine Mrs F sitting in and saying “I’m not going. You are going to have to carry me out of here“. So first thing this morning, I called the Bailiff’s office at the first court and spoke to the Manager. She was quite helpful and said she would inform the actual Bailiff who would be attending the eviction. And she did! Not quite an hour afterwards, I got a call from the attending Bailiff – from the other court – and we had a chat about my concerns and what preventative measures to put in place. And that would involve the Police!!

                        Sad really. But a necessary step. This year, I will not be taking any prisoners .. so to speak. So, I start as I intend to carry on. Get rid of the old and bring in the new.

                        Watch out! Grumpy is on the war path……..

                          Posted in Lettings and Management, Tenant Eviction.

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