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Help! I can't get a guarantor...
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# 1
happycatuk
Old 05-07-2010, 10:23 PM
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Question Help! I can't get a guarantor...

Hey everyone,

Not sure if there's an answer to this problem, but am calling on the Greater Collective Knowledge in the hope there's a solution, somehow...

I'm registered disabled through CFS/ME, in receipt of long-term Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance (Higher mobility used for a car, lowest care component too).

My long-term partner moved out in April, we've split up and I've been trying to find somewhere else to live on my own (current property rented from his family, who now want to release the capital). I have visited my local council, and can get 630 in LHA Housing Benefit; however, because I have savings (of approx 4k, mostly back-payment of DLA), they say they can offer me no help.

My problem is that I'm unable to find an agency/landlord who'll take me seriously - a quiet, frugal, educated woman in her late thirties who's never missed a payment on ANYTHING - because I'm on HB and cannot find a guarantor, bar my Ex who barely meets the minimum wage for the cheapest/smallest properties and has no mortgage (everyone else I've asked is in a state of financial flux themselves )

I'd hoped to pay for Rent Guarantee & Legal Expense insurance in lieu of a guarantor, but in order to pass the referencing process to obtain a cert of insurance, I need a guarantor first!!

There are no properties advertised in the classifieds, so cannot approach private landlords directly, and I feel uncomfortable having a landlord needing to take a 'risk' on me .. can I really not get this insurance? I take it they'd be unable to insure me, either?

Any ideas, please? Thanks x
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# 2
Jaxb
Old 06-07-2010, 6:39 AM
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Would you be able/willing to offer 6 months rent up front? This is what myself and my partner had to do as I passed the credit check with the LA but he didn't and we had no-one we could ask to be a guarantor. The LA accepted the 6 months upfront instead.
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# 3
martindow
Old 06-07-2010, 7:14 AM
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I agree with Jaxb that offering six months in advance is the way to go. To be honest if a friend or family member with several thousand pounds of savings were to approach me to be a guarantor I think I would politely decline.
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# 4
Jowo
Old 06-07-2010, 10:16 AM
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Does your local council operate any schemes to put tenants in touch with LHA friendly landlords? Have you applied to go on the council housing waiting list or local housing associations (social housing?).

Contact Shelter to discuss your housing options, and read their website about homelessness (which you will be technically regarded as being once you've been served notice by your current landlords and have nowhere to go within the next 28 days). Their site describes the obligation of the local council towards the homeless and how they must prioritise this for groups including the disabled.

Also, check on the MSE Benefits board the information you received about your savings threshold. I thought it was capital above 6000 that impacts the receipt of means tested benefits.
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# 5
happycatuk
Old 06-07-2010, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jowo View Post
Does your local council operate any schemes to put tenants in touch with LHA friendly landlords? Have you applied to go on the council housing waiting list or local housing associations (social housing?).

Contact Shelter to discuss your housing options, and read their website about homelessness (which you will be technically regarded as being once you've been served notice by your current landlords and have nowhere to go within the next 28 days). Their site describes the obligation of the local council towards the homeless and how they must prioritise this for groups including the disabled.

Also, check on the MSE Benefits board the information you received about your savings threshold. I thought it was capital above 6000 that impacts the receipt of means tested benefits.
Hiya,

I am not really in a position to give 6 months' rent up front, unless I go for the cheapest property anyway (which is first floor and I have limb failure issues ) Plus, I'm not sure what I'd have to live on or fund my house move if I did. I'd prefer to keep my 2k ISA to one side in case of emergencies, ie delay in receiving HB etc, so my prospective land-lord doesn't have any delay in rent, and I don't have to call on a guarantor.

I spoke to Shelter via the CAB a while ago and until the very last day (and I'm kicked out), I got the impression that the council won't do anything, but I'll check again. I can join the housing list, but it's going to be several years (single, no offspring, not disabled enough to gain extra 'points'.)

Any help depends on if I count as a 'vulnerable adult'...

I also spoke to the council's Housing Options adviser: they're so busy they don't intervene especially since I can afford the deposit etc, and made no mention of a HB-friendly landlord list.

I wouldn't want to 'use' a friend or relatives' savings in case of difficulties, btw, I'd rather starve than do that, but unfortunately the system is much more like getting a mortgage - and if I could meet the criteria for a mortgage, sigh...
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# 6
Jowo
Old 06-07-2010, 12:38 PM
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Have you been formally issued with a notice to quit by your landlord, an S21 document?

Local councils have a reputation for gatekeeping - cutting demand down on their housing services by resisting processing a homelessness application until the landlord has gained a court order or until the tenant is literally going to be kicked out by the bailiff's.

However the local govt guidance issued to them, and the Shelter website, makes clear that this approach is not acceptable and is contrary to their obligations. A study undertaken by Crisis (a mystery shopping exercise) whereby people posed as single homeless and tried to access their services showed that many ignore their statutory obligations - for example, many of the 'homeless' applicants didn't make it past the receptionist, were issued with leaflets or had demands for further information made upon them when the local council were in fact legally obliged to process their homelessness application. In other words, many local councils for many reasons actually resist accepting a homelessness application in the first place, sometimes telling the tenant simply to ignore the notice to quit and not to come back until a court date for possession is in place.

What is the actual 'degree' of disability required in order to be classed as vulnerable by the local council if 'higher mobility/lower care' DLA is not considered 'sufficient'?
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# 7
happycatuk
Old 06-07-2010, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jowo View Post
Have you been formally issued with a notice to quit by your landlord, an S21 document?

Local councils have a reputation for gatekeeping - cutting demand down on their housing services by resisting processing a homelessness application until the landlord has gained a court order or until the tenant is literally going to be kicked out by the bailiff's.

However the local govt guidance issued to them, and the Shelter website, makes clear that this approach is not acceptable and is contrary to their obligations. A study undertaken by Crisis (a mystery shopping exercise) whereby people posed as single homeless and tried to access their services showed that many ignore their statutory obligations - for example, many of the 'homeless' applicants didn't make it past the receptionist, were issued with leaflets or had demands for further information made upon them when the local council were in fact legally obliged to process their homelessness application. In other words, many local councils for many reasons actually resist accepting a homelessness application in the first place, sometimes telling the tenant simply to ignore the notice to quit and not to come back until a court date for possession is in place.

What is the actual 'degree' of disability required in order to be classed as vulnerable by the local council if 'higher mobility/lower care' DLA is not considered 'sufficient'?
An S21? No, I've had a letter from my land-lady formally giving notice to quit (which I showed to CAB and Council, the latter of which were very uninterested), but I had no idea of that specific form...

I think the problem may be exacerbated by the fact that the land-lady is my former partner's mother, and she has an aversion to forms and legal process (ie we had no official tenancy or rent book...) because she's trying to avoid tax etc (a school-teacher who's struggling as it is).

I will look for the form that followed up my collection of a Housing Waiting List form, and quote from it if I can find it, but my recollection is that because I'm not in receipt of HIGHER care etc, I don't apply.

I've checked my local council website, and would be placed in temp accommodation - a room in a shared house sharing bathroom and kitchen with other people/families - while they'd investigate whether I'd intentionally made myself homeless, and if I can avoid that situation I want to...
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# 8
PasturesNew
Old 06-07-2010, 1:01 PM
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In that case, she might have given you a nice letter ... but you don't have to leave. She can't dodge her legal and tax obligations and keep things off the record. Teachers aren't struggling, they just want you to think they are because they see others with more and think they deserve it too ... like this one, two homes and deserves it, but struggling ... and happy to put you out on the streets.

Only an S21 will do .... and she might not even be legally in a position to be able to issue you with an S21.

Note: If you leave, on the strength of that letter, by the rules you WILL have made yourself intentionally homeless as it's not a legal route of getting you out.
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# 9
Jowo
Old 06-07-2010, 1:19 PM
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I recommend you submit a homelessness application, after taking advice with Shelter again. Like PN, I imagine the council will demand an S21 (which obligates the landlord to give 2 months notice timed to expire with the rental period) rather than an informal letter. Some local councils will say that if you leave this accommodation of your own volition (i.e. comply with the letter) you will have made yourself intentionally homeless and they will not provide any help. Therefore you may need to go back to your landlord and tell her to issue you with this if the council require this, or you won't be going anywhere.

You should apply for the council waiting list (or choice based letting, if they have this scheme) and local Housing Associations anyway - virtually anyone can go on the lists though as you can appreciate, only the few and the neediest tend to get allocated property.
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# 10
Jowo
Old 06-07-2010, 1:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PasturesNew View Post

Only an S21 will do .... and she might not even be legally in a position to be able to issue you with an S21.
If you paid a deposit, and the property is in England/Wales and the AST was signed after 06 April 2007, then a landlord is required to protect the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme. If they don't comply, then any S21 they issue could be found invalid by the court.
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# 11
Jowo
Old 06-07-2010, 1:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happycatuk View Post

I've checked my local council website, and would be placed in temp accommodation - a room in a shared house sharing bathroom and kitchen with other people/families - while they'd investigate whether I'd intentionally made myself homeless, and if I can avoid that situation I want to...
Yes,cynics say that councils put up as many barriers as possible to deter demand on their services. others are more sympathetic and say this is because they have scarce resources and because they are exploited by tenants who conspire with their landlords to issue them notice in order to leapfrog up the allocations process as a priority.
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# 12
sonastin
Old 06-07-2010, 1:26 PM
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You could give her the ultimatum that either she gives you the paperwork that you need in order to access the help that is available to people being made homeless (if this is someone you have previously had a good relationship with, make sure you're tugging the heartstrings there!) and risks putting the tenancy on the radar and becoming liable for all the tax and so on she was trying to avoid.

Or she waits until you are good and ready to move out because you are struggling to find property that is suitable for your condition and you'll get out of there just as soon as you can but only when you actually have somewhere to go. And then you can investigate all the options of guarantor, rent guarantee insurance, finding an approachable landlord, etc without some arbitrary (and possible unlawful) deadline hanging over your head.
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# 13
N79
Old 06-07-2010, 1:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PasturesNew View Post
In that case, she might have given you a nice letter ... but you don't have to leave. She can't dodge her legal and tax obligations and keep things off the record. Teachers aren't struggling, they just want you to think they are because they see others with more and think they deserve it too ... like this one, two homes and deserves it, but struggling ... and happy to put you out on the streets.

Only an S21 will do .... and she might not even be legally in a position to be able to issue you with an S21.

Note: If you leave, on the strength of that letter, by the rules you WILL have made yourself intentionally homeless as it's not a legal route of getting you out.
Just to correct a misunderstanding. There is no prescribed form for a S21 notice - a letter will be fine so long as it contains all the relevant information which must be included and the wording is unambiguous.

There is no mandated layout or form of words which must be used unlike a S8 notice which must use the words outlined in schedule 2 of the Housing Act. It is this lack of a defined set of words which leads to a number of S21 notices being deficient on a technicality.

I'm not saying that this letter meets the legal requirements of a S21 notice but nor can it be said for certain that it does not.
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# 14
happycatuk
Old 06-07-2010, 1:52 PM
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Wow...

So many responses, thank you [weeps]

I'll try and address everything raised, if I can (arms getting weak...)

Firstly: my landlady, my former mum-in-law, has made not a penny from the rent. Her son, my ex, paid a peppercorn rent of 250pcm to her .. which, because the house is co-owned by her and her sister (over in Spain), went straight to her sister (to replace maintenance payments from her ex, which she lost due to owning half of this house after the death of their father, my ex's grandfather).

Because she's had trouble finding continuous employment as infants Supply teacher, she's had periods of living just on her tax refunds etc, so she's not a bad person who's trying to swindle me or the system.

The date of the 31st of July is her most preferred date (she gave me 4 months to find somewhere but property's SO scarce here, it's been difficult to find anywhere) but, even then, I don't need to move all my stuff out immediately, as she'll be popping down over the summer to clean, clear and prep the house for sale while she's on her summer holiday. Because both she and her sister have teenagers starting Uni this September, so need the cash from the house sale as they have no other savings etc.

There is NO paperwork for my tenancy - no contract, no rent-book, any record of payments intermittently on my ex's bank statements only (it came from his bank account, not our joint one), so have no recourse legally.

The letter she wrote was purposefully 'not nice' as she knew the council etc would see it.. and yes, I imagine that going on the strength of it would constitute making myself homeless on purpose...

I'll look into Housing Associations, but in Hertfordshire demand for property is very high, so.. am grateful for the idea, I have so many things to think of/sort out, whilst dealing with my usual health issues and, oh yes, a broken heart...

I'm currently waiting for two agents to get back to me: one has explained my situation to a landlady I met on Saturday, a 1st floor place which isn't ideal as I may have mentioned (she's talking it over with her partner) and the rent is low enough for my ex to be a guarantor, plus another flat on the ground-floor nearby which has been on the market for a while and I'm waiting to see (no idea if land-lord would take me on there tho and agency fees are stupidly high...)

Thanks to everyone xx

Last edited by happycatuk; 06-07-2010 at 1:55 PM.
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# 15
millym
Old 06-07-2010, 7:23 PM
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Hi there, so sorry to hear of your plight. I too have ME and am in receipt of IB and DLA LRC/HRM, but am extremely happily married! I moved into my private rented flat 18 months ago and needed a guarantor, however, the LA told me that they did not class me as a DSS (or whatever) tenant but as a disabled one and the guarantor was because of my low income.

In your position, with the amount of savings you have, you might find that LA's will treat you more favourably. I would have a little chat with the agents of the place you're going to see, and take proof of your benefit, savings etc with you. They might ask you to pay an extra month or two up front, rather than the whole 6 months, to account for the time it takes to sort LHA out. I could have gotten round the guarantor thing if I had enough money...

Sorry I can't be any more help, but I hope it all works out for you. I know stuff like this is incredibly difficult to deal with when you can barely get out of bed etc.
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