Wednesday, 4 February 2015

247 Property Services of Doncaster cater for a wide range of tenants.  From £1000 houses on Lakeside to LHA 2 bed homes in Barnsley we cover the lot.  Our tenant range is wide obviously too.  We work closely with a number of housing projects and charitable agencies in rehousing the people who have fallen foul of the system and who high street letting agencies would shun out the door with a broom.  To this end we get sent a fair amount of tenants from these, and local government, agencies.  Usually late on a Friday afternoon, and usually not the most pleasant of attitudes to deal with. We have seen a sharp rise in tenants who are struggling with their rent having suffered changes in their lifestyle or financial circumstances who are looking to be rehoused.  Tenant have suffered a financial blow, they have lost their job.  They speak to their landlord and explain what’s happening.  The landlord grudgingly accepts these facts and allows a month’s lateness on the rent to give the tenant a chance to find a job or get benefits sorted.  The tenant has been with him a few years, they have a good relationship and he trusts their promises.  Unfortunately the month comes and goes but the rent doesn’t arrive.  He speaks to his tenant who hasn’t found a new job yet and the housing benefit claim is in a backlog at the council.  He explains to his tenant that he cannot wait any longer and asks them to move out giving them a month’s notice.  He has tried, he has been fair with his tenant and the tenant accepts the inevitability that he needs to move on.  He knows he will eventually get the rent from the housing benefit, or will he.  This is where our real story begins. We all know that tenants are having a hard time, jobs are scarce and the councils have cut back on their resources due to limited funding from central government.  In reality landlords are carrying a fair share of the problems government both local and central have. Our tenant has been given his notice, he is at his wits end, and he and his family are going to be homeless in a month so in desperation he goes to his local housing advice centre.  Some are charity run some are local government but not all are like the one we are going to describe (a lot but not all).  The advice he is given although factually correct is playing in to what can only be construed as a nightmare for the landlord and the tenant.  He is told not to leave his house, his landlord can’t make him unless he goes to court and even worse if he does the right thing by the landlord, remember they had a good relationship previously, and leaves as asked then he will be making himself and his family homeless voluntarily and will not be eligible for assistance from the council.  These organisations are telling people to stay put in houses they are already in debt through, run up more debt and be taken to court.  No explanation that they will end up with a County Court Judgement against their name, no explanation that they will end up being forcibly removed from the house by county court or high court bailiffs.  Just stay put, don’t go anywhere, don’t worry and when the bailiff comes then come and see us as we cannot help you until then. That’s awful for the tenant, they will now end up prisoners in their home and their landlord is barred from it.  The landlord is faced with mounting legal bills, lost rent and a system that seems heavily biased against people who want to do things right. Call me a cynic but if local government and charitable housing agencies are telling people to stay put and be taken to court has anyone else noticed that court fees, about the same time this advice was first given, have soared?  Not only is our landlord now facing massive arrears, huge solicitors fees and extortionate court fees but the likelihood is when he gets the house back it won’t be in the best of shapes.  Tenants seem to mysteriously change when court paperwork arrives and the world’s best tenant seems to just neglect their house.  All these costs and fees are borne by the landlord, who let’s face it doesn't really make much money from their houses anyway, not by the time mortgages, insurances and letting fees are taken into account.  In days of old the landlord would have turned up on the allotted day, changed the locks and told the tenants to move on and they would have done. As earlier said we try to help as many tenants as we can, not because we are greedy but because these tenants otherwise would be homeless.  The agencies giving them this advice are simply clearing their desks so they can have a quiet weekend.  We have also noticed however that when we do take time to work with these agencies and their trouble tenants the promises are flowing full tilt prior to the tenant moving in.  Of course we will support them, of course we will assist them with all their paperwork and benefit application and no, never have they had a drink or drugs issue.  As soon as the AST is signed its….who? Never heard of them. If government wants private sector landlords to keep carrying the burden of them having sold all their council houses without replacing them and the influx of homeless immigrants hitting our shores there has got to be more help offered to them.  The empty desk and unanswered telephone from the support worker has got to become a thing of the past.  They need to be realistic with their clients, tell them they are not going to get rehoused, tell them to move in with family or friends until their circumstances change as it is not private sector housings responsibility to deal with all the social issues caused by government.  We all got in the business to make money, not become social workers. Here is a example of what is happening all over uk and very much like what we see every day.