What a mess! Need advice

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    What a mess! Need advice

    Hi, I have let my property to a couple with a child since last May. During this time they have been late with the rent twice (once by a whole month other time a couple of weeks). One of the tenants has just called me to say that he partner is moving out as he's going to buy a property near where he works which is quite far from the rented house. The woman doesn't want to move out. Not yet anyway as he child is at the local school. She has asked if she can stay on without her partner. Partner was down as lead tenant as her income wouldn't have covered the rent. She has told me that she thinks she will be entitled to housing benefit - roughly £600 per months (rent is £650 so she would make up shortfall). I wouldn't consider housing benefit as a new rental but as she's already there I am considering it. As I have no experience with housing benefit, can anyone advise?? Are there any reasons why I should not do this? I'm a new landlord and would welcome some advice. Thanks

    #2
    Someone who "thinks" they're entitled to housing benefit is not sufficiently organised to be able to manage their finances.

    If they're joint tenants, the one moving out needs to give notice as he's jointly liable for the rent.
    If he's the actual tenant (and the partner isn't) he remains liable for the rent until his notice expires.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Tricky.
      Are they saying they are splitting up, or are they remaining together but just planning on running two households as that may affect her HB claim.
      If you DO allow this to go ahead make sure you get permission to discuss her claim direct with HB. Check with them if they have a particular form you need to get her to sign or whether you can just type up a cover letter and get her to sign for that access.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the reply. They are joint tenants and that's right as I hadn't thought about him giving notice. She has said he has agreed to pay half up until May and then will be leaving. And I agree about her not being organised to manage finances. I was ready for giving them notice after month 4!! However I'm wondering now if it would be ok to do a new contract for the woman as long as she is entitled to housing benefits. As the money could be paid straight to me which would mean guaranteed rent. Are there any drawbacks to housing benefit as I know a lot of landlords (including myself) steak clear of it.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks Charliesugar. Good point about permission to speak about her claim. She says they are not splitting up. However, he's not the child's father so I assume they will just each pay their own finances?! Not sure how all that works. Very undecided as to whether to agree to this or just tell them they both need to leave and look for new tenant. Although they've not been the best tenants, sometimes it's a case of better the ones you know!!

          Comment


            #6
            Ask her for copy of HB application.

            When does fixed term end,

            HB is not guaranteed:. Not noticed the benefit cap reducing payments? If tenant application is fraudulent or her circumstances change HB wiil stop or get changed. Landlords, especially when paid direct, get asked to repay
            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


              #7
              Theartfullodger - they are out of fixed period now and on a rolling month to month contract. So would you suggest benefit is paid to her instead of direct to me if I decide to go ahead?

              Comment


                #8
                First, use the link below to find out what the maximum HB/LHA would be payable for your property, in your area.

                Then find out what the maximum LHA your tenant would be entitled to in her circumstances.

                If the LHA will cover your entire rent, then maybe consider.

                Will you be able to afford 2 months of no rent while they sort out her claim.

                You must not think that it is a given that the rent will be paid directly to you, it rarely happens.

                https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx

                Comment


                  #9
                  HB/LHA will only usually be paid direct to LL if the tenant is at least 2 months overdue, otherwise it goes to the tenant who is not obliged to use it for rent. They are not committing any offence if they decide to spend the money on other things and it would not affect their future entitlement. Benefit cap, circumstance changes etc. as mentioned already will of course also affect things.
                  I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                  I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The general principle is - if in doubt throw the idea out. There are plenty of reasons for doubt, and few legal protections for you - so walk away as fast as you can.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Just tried that link and it says £555.50 per month so she would have a shortfall of almost £100 pcm. But she does work so should be able to cover it. I agree though that maybe it's best to walk away as I don't feel entirely comfortable with it. Just thought I would ask for others opinions/experience of housing benefit.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You can't just walk away.
                        You can decline to rent to the tenant on their own, but they're still there and neither of them have given notice.

                        Until they do, or until you serve notice, nothing is going to happen.
                        Ideally, you want one of them to serve notice - probably the one who's planning to leave, as, otherwise they both continue to be liable for the rent (all of it, not half each).
                        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes -walk away was a figure of speach. I will tell them that he needs to give notice and when he does that will terminate the contract for both??? As they are jointly on tenancy agreement. Is that correct?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Yes, as long as the agreement is periodic, one tenant's notice ends the tenancy for all of the tenants.
                            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If her housing benefit covered 100% of the rent, plus the council paid you direct, plus they didnt exceed the benefits cap then it would be worth thinking about.

                              As thats not the case here I wouldnt entertain the idea. If you are confident of finding a working tenant to replace her without too much of a void then its worth doing so in the long run.

                              Comment

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