MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Should Jenny kick them out?

MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
Money Saving Expert
This week's Money Moral Dilemma
Jenny's a landlord with a buy-to-let property and a single parent family has been renting for nine months. They've always paid on time and been model tenants. Unfortunately, three months ago the tenant lost her job, and hasn't found another. She hasn’t been about to pay the rent for two months and is speaking to the Citizens Advice Bureau about help. Jenny has a mortgage on the rental property and, while she can keep afloat, life is more difficult without the rental income.

Click reply to enter the money moral maze

Also read last week's MMD: Should Janet pay for John?

PS. And just to confirm this is an entirely hypothetical situation. Each week in the email I will be asking those questions. And yes, the lack of detail, the phrasing, all of it is deliberate to invoke debate (nice debate too). Enjoy the money moral maze.

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • skylight
    skylight Posts: 10,716
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker Home Insurance Hacker!
    The single parent family are entitled to Housing Benefit. This process may already be inhand and the council is taking time to process the claim (as it happened with me - took 3 months going years back!)


    The Buy-to-let is still a business. Unless the tenant can prove that they have made a claim for housing benefit and that the rent will be forthcoming, then start eviction proceedings.

    Although, business is business, I personally would not have the heart to start proceedings this week and would wait until the new year.
  • There should be a clause in their contract which outlines what happens in the event of non-payment/job loss/DHSS payment etc.

    My sister was asked to leave (given correct notice period) even though she had paid everything uptodate but advised them was now going to be under DHSS as she was out of work. She went and found a job somewhere else and a houseshare and is going better because of it and guess what still hasnt had the money she was owed for the time she was entitled to benefits 3 months delay in claim.
    are you sitting comfortably?, then I'll begin.....
    was at 01/01/07 now 03/07/07

    overdraft was 1500 now 1360 must try harder.

    loan was 13705.24 now 9791.62 due to be paid off 01/02/2011 but gonna aim for 01/05/2009!!

    amex cc was 4210 now 3650.48 lobt at 4.9% due to be paid off in 01/02/08
    total owed was £19415.24 now its £14802.10 going down!!!:money:
    I am proud to be dealing with my debt!
    just one day at a time, dont take on ANY NEW debt.
  • The single parent family are entitled to Housing Benefit. This process may already be inhand and the council is taking time to process the claim (as it happened with me - took 3 months going years back!)

    Indeed and Council Tax Benefit as well. Write a letter before action immediately after Christmas. Starting possession proceedings will only add to tenant's debt (court fees). Explain to tenant why and tell her to present the letter to Council HB office. This may concentrate their minds since with children involved they would have to rehouse tenant were she to be evicted and that is the last thing they would want.
  • I just *couldnt* kick them out if I could stay afloat, as long as I was sure I'd get my cash in the long run..........
  • The tenant could ask the local authority HB dept for an interim payment as well, to ensure that she is able to sustain her current accommodation. A letter from Jenny explaining that she is likely to kick them out would definately help, assuming that the claim went in when it should have done...
  • This is difficult for landlords who care, however, Jenny bought the property as an investment and has to stay focused on that. It is most likely that Housing Benefit will assist the tenant with her rent and council tax. In the event that the tenant is not eligible for these benefits then Jenny should take appropriate action to ensure that the tenant vacates the property.

    Just to explain one of the reasons why the tenant may not be able to pay Jenny by claiming Housing Benefit. Everyone has a past. Some people claim Housing benefit when they are not entitled to it. When discovered one way of the council concerned recovering this is by withholding payments the claimant subsequently become entitled too. This can have a seriously adverse effect on landlords who accept direct HB payments, as if the council subsequently discover that the tenant has previously received HB by means of a fraudulent claim, the council will charge back the the unwitting landlord the whole amount owed to them by the tenant to the extent that they have made payments to the landlord. This could be months of rent. Furthermore, the landlord still has the tenant but no rent until they gain possession. I would also mention for clarity, that a council can recover HB on behalf of another council.
  • Sounds a bit like my current tennants (but there are differences) - they started claiming HB beginning of November but I've had no rent off the council - there's no way I'm kicking them out over christmas though - they have 3 kids (one about a month old,) and another difference, the HB only covers some of the rent - they've been paying their part already.
    Conjugating the verb 'to be":
    -o I am humble -o You are attention seeking -o She is Nadine Dorries
  • NeilW
    NeilW Posts: 143
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    As it happens I'm just doing this.

    Yes, the tenant should leave and the landlord should evict. Why? Because if the landlord evicts then the local authority has a statutory duty to rehouse the family, whereas if the family leaves of their own accord they are 'intentionally homeless' and could end up in cardboard boxes.

    In our case the family have tried their best with Housing Benefit and got nowhere. Their attitude was quite frankly alarming (I spoke to them and got the usual 'Data Protection' excuse) and they were offering this poor girl just £44 per week towards her rent even though she had a small child and had got herself up to her eyeballs in debt just because she felt she should pay her way even though she had lost her job.

    I found out exactly where she should go in the council, used the excellent Shelter website to write out a script for the girl and suggesed she speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau to see if they can help strongarm the council. When the council and their housing associations have written to me I've written back stating that she is welcome to stay if one of the organisations will meet her rent.

    Our tenant is a lovely girl, but she is not strong-willed and not good at pushing her point. The sad thing is that the safest way for her to secure her housing going forward would be for her to get banged-up with another kid. There are several other tenants in the same block with more than one child, all fully funded by the state.

    I think I've negotiated the moral maze as best I can. You have to be both selfish and benevolant at the same time. The state will try and shift its responsibility onto anybody else who is prepared to accept it. So you have to be hard and press for eviction. At the same time you can use what knowledge you've built up about the patchwork mess of social housing to guide them to the people that have a legal duty to deal with the problem and those people who can help the unfortunate individual enforce that legal duty.

    It's been fun, believe me.

  • freebird65
    freebird65 Posts: 1,751
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I have a situation too. In my case the tenants have given me endless sob stories and promises of rent money from HB now he's lost his job. I was all patience and friendly understanding.....and where has my helpfulness got me? Over £2K in arrears and no danger of ever getting it back. Oh and now they tell me there'll be no more money because they have to pay for Christmas presents and a holiday!!

    And softy that I am, I still can't bring myself to give them their eviction letter over Christmas, even though I don't have any spare money to pay the mortgage in the meantime.

    The next tenants will get a hard-hearted moo!
  • viktory
    viktory Posts: 7,635 Forumite
    The tenants should have applied for HB immediately as my understanding is that HB claims are processed (and backdated) from the date of the claim. Therefore if they didn't claim immediately then that money is lost.

    As the landlord, if it were me, I would want to see evidence of a HB claim. If a claim had been lodged I would hold fire on eviction proceedings. If not, then I would serve a notice in the New Year.
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