Eviction help - a year's worth of arrears (Housing benefits tenant)

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    Eviction help - a year's worth of arrears (Housing benefits tenant)

    Hi there,

    Can anyone tell me what steps are needed to evict?

    We have had a Housing Benefits tenant in our flat since 2006 with rent paid direct to Landlord. (They moved in with a child, so even though the rent was always sporadic and some arrears built up, I didn't have the heart to evict them with a child.)

    The child is now 19, working a part-time job, as is the mum (without teling us). We worked this out due to the rental shortfall from HB and asked them to pay the shortfall, but they refused.

    Also, we didn't put the rent up for 10 years, but put a rise in place in 2020. This was overlooked by HB until last week. It doesn't look as if they will backdate the rent rise, or help us with a discretionary housing payment, so we want to evict now that the pandemic restrictions have lifted.

    The arrears are now £18,000 so over 12 months worth.

    What are the correct steps to take? And what notice is needed? I believe we need to issue a Section 8 but that is as far as I have got.

    Thanks



    #2
    You can take a belt and braces approach and issue both a Section 8 using ground 8 and a Section 21 at the same time. I suspect you will need to take this to court to get a possession order as tenants in receipt of benefits are finding it even more difficult than usual. I also imagine that even with the rent increase in 2020 you are still charging below the local market rate so the tenants could well find themselves priced out of the area and will rue the day the fell into arrears with you.

    Comment


      #3
      Do you mean Housing Benefit (from the council) or do you mean Universal Credit Housing Element (from the DWP)?

      They are different, and have different rules.

      The important thing to remember is that it is not YOUR benefit entitlement - it is your tenants benefit entitlement.
      (Quite a few landlords don't seem to understand that, landlords have no right to get a tenants benefit, it's just arranged to pay it that way sometimes).

      As you are getting HB (or UC HE) paid direct then you will be getting the maximim LHA rate that your tenants are entitled to.

      (If they are claiming UC Housing Element then you could get a bit extra deducted from their UC and paid to you for arrears, it's not a lot. But you can't even do that with Housing Benefit from the council).

      It doesn't look as if they will backdate the rent rise .......
      It doesn't matter if you put the rent up or not, the applicable LHA rate is the most benefit for rent you can get in a private rental.

      So the council or DWP have been paying you direct the maximum Housing help that you tenants can get.

      LHA rates had been frozen since 2015, they did go up in April 2020, and in 2021, but are now frozen again.

      If your direct payments didn't go up in 2020 & 2021 then your tenant (not you) may be owed the amount of the LHA rises from 2020 & 2021.
      It is you tenant's benefit, so it's them that are owed if the increase didn't happen, and it's them that has to ask for it to be corrected/backpaid.
      I can't see them being bothered to do that if all it's going to do is reduce their rent arrears to you, which they don't seem bothered about anyway.

      You could ask the council/DWP yourself why your direct payments didn't go up, but that's all you can do because it is not your benefit entitlement.
      (If you are very, very, lucky they may just pay any owing direct to you rather than to your tenants).

      ..... or help us with a discretionary housing payment,
      YOU can't ask for a DHP for your tenants, if they want one then THEY have to ask for it.

      Having said all the above, if your tenants are not topping up their LHA rate to the full rent amount then they are in arrears, if they refuse to do anything about that then eviction is your only route.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks.

        Just to add: the son (adult age now) has approached Universal Credit and asked us to put the tenancy in his name so that he can claim rent for it. I am reluctant to do this as surely that would be creating a new tenancy and writing off both the arrears and any way to get the property back as he'll still be in it with his mum. I don't even think that it is allowed and I've said "No" anyway as it is his mother's tenancy.

        Comment


          #5
          PS: It's Housing Benefit (not Universal Credit). If the tenant transfers over to Universal Credit, will they help with the rent and the arrears, or do the arrears and any rental shortfall get wiped out? No clue about this stuff.

          Comment


            #6
            The arrears don’t get wiped. Like any unsecured debt in England the time limit is 6 years but realistically I don’t think you’re going to recover £18,000 (is that a typo in your opening post or does the tenant really owe £18,000) from someone on a low income.

            You could offer a new tenancy agreement in joint names or you could do a deed of assignment to put the son on the existing tenancy. I don’t know enough about universal credit though to know what impact that will have on the overall situation.

            Comment


              #7
              This got long so I'll split it into 2 posts.

              I missed something above, as the son is now over 18 and working he is a non-dependant adult living with a parent.
              As such he is meant to make a contribution to the rent and so the mother's Housing Benefit should also have a 'Non-dependant Deduction' being applied, further reducing what she is entitled to as HB and so what you will be getting as direct payments.
              How much the reduction should be depends on how much he earns.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~
              You can no longer make a new claim for Housing Benefit. (Unless you are a pensioner or in 'specified' accommodation which is basically council emergency accommodation or a care situation).
              You can change certain circumstances for an existing HB award.

              All new claim for help with rent have to be Universal Credit.

              What he is asking is a non starter.
              He's asking because he can't claim benefit for rent without showing that he has a legal liability to pay rent.

              You can't just end the current tenancy without the current tenants agreement. Does the mother know what he is asking?

              Even if she agreed and you did end the tenancy by mutual agreement that gives more problems.
              Or maybe not? If she agrees to end the tenancy, in writing, does that mean you can then refuse to give them a new tenancy and kick them out without notice or a possession order?
              I suspect not, and it would be easy to claim that she only agreed under duress.

              And why would you then give a new tenancy to someone who already owes you money for unpaid rent?

              Just carry on as you are and evict them.

              More reasons why below:

              Comment


                #8

                Now for more benefits stuff - to quote an old TV show - Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

                Firstly,
                If you were daft enough to give him a new tenancy in his name only he could then claim help towards the rent from UC.

                She still owes you the underpaid rent from the old tenancy, but it's no longer rent arrears it's become a debt.
                So you can't get anything paid from his UC toward it, and you can't use it to serve an S8 on the new tenancy.

                He would be entitled to 2 bed LHA, with a NDD for his mother.
                You could set up Managed Payment To Landlord from UC, but that's not easy unless he has arrears on the new tenancy.
                It's more likely that, especially to start with, they would pay the Housing Element to him, and I doubt that you would see any of it then.

                He would still only be getting the same as Housing Element that the mother currently gets in HB, so even if you get MPTL set up they would still need to top it up which of course they won't.

                All you have actually done by giving him a new tenancy is changed the current rent arrears into a debt, so you can no longer use them to S8 and evict.
                Oh - and most probably stopped your direct payments.

                Secondly,
                although it's probably redundant after you've read the above it is interesting;

                If you were to be daft enough to give them a joint tenancy that gives some unusual situations benefits wise.

                Even as mother and son, being joint tenants they would be classed as sharers and so each would be entitled to shared rate LHA, (or half the actual rent if that is lower than shared rate LHA).

                2x shared rate LHA is almost always less than 2 bed rate with a NDD, so jointly they would be entitled to less benefit for rent overall.

                In benefit calculations they would each be liable for paying half of the rent, which could bring another odd situation:
                Assuming that the new tenancy follows straight on from the old then the mother could make her half a change of circumstance to her current HB award.
                The son doesn't have existing HB and so would have to claim UC, (or add it to an existing UC award if he already has a UC award).

                Which leaves you then dealing with both the council for her HB, and the DWP for his UC Housing Element.

                Two different organisations to deal with and for less money in combined direct payments than you currently get from her HB alone.

                And just as with a new tenancy in his name only -
                She still owes you the underpaid rent from the old tenancy, but it's no longer rent arrears it's become a debt.
                So you can't get anything paid from his UC toward it, and you can't use it to serve an S8 on the new tenancy.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks, Nukecad. That makes perfect sense. I have already refused to give him a new tenancy. The arrears are massive - £18,000. (Not a typo - wish it was.)

                  I have spoken at length to Housing Benefits re. DHP. The tenant's appllication is being re-looked at, and the increased rent request is going to the Rent Officer to see if there is an outside chance it might be possible to backdate it to September 2020, which would help. DHP can't respond until the Rent Officer has done his/her bit - which could take another 3 weeks.

                  What do I have to do before issuing a Section 21 or Section 8 notice? (The tenancy has expired so I can go for section 21 and there are enough arrears to go for the Section 8). Is there a letter I need to send first warning action? Any idea what it is called on here? (I am so new to all of this but need to really get a grip on everything.)

                  Thanks

                  Comment


                    #10
                    First thing, check any S21 would be valid (many are not) -google "nearly legal section 21".

                    But in your shoes I would have served s8 & s21 months and months ago. Copied s8 to council (intentionally homeless...".

                    Can we be confident you will either give no reference or only a full, honest one please?
                    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks. I'll look that up. I'm hoping the notices on here in the documents folder are OK to use? Although maybe it would be safest for me to go through a company to do it for me. Only one I've heard of is Landlord Action, and sadly their fees are a bit higher than we could currently afford. (But I know you get what you pay for - so if they are the best guys, I'd just have to give it another month or so.)

                      We had lockdown, so my hands were tied.

                      What reference do you mean? If it is for the tenant to move somewhere else, I would absolutely give a full, honest reference.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Are you a member of NRLA or similar? I recently read of a landlord who did the whole process himself with the help of NRLA and successfully obtained a possession order.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          do not waste your time with these people .Serve notices immediately .The eviction process is slow but at lease you will definitely get them out .

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Munchkin19,

                            Serve a section 8; wait for the 2 weeks notice to expire; have a court application made for an order for possession and a money judgment for arrears; once order granted the Court will give them a couple of weeks to leave and if they dont you can ask for a writ of possession.

                            If arrears not paid and you have a money judgment you could speak to a specialist to assess their assets and whetehr it is worth taking further action against them. The judgment is valid for 6 years so maybe review their financial situation periodically in case it changes and it is worth you taking action.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Wow..... that is a serious amount of money owed, as said earlier in the thread, they will rue the day they gave up this cheap tenancy, i suspect they have no clue what is in store for them. I would never have given as long as they have had, they need to evicted asap and do not given them any chance to wriggle out of it. This is why i do not take anyone on benefits.

                              Comment

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