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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

New clampdown on 'No DSS' ads by letting agents and landlords

The government says it wants “an immediate change” in the policy of some letting agents and landlords who advertise ‘No DSS’ when renting out private flats and houses.

It is understood that meetings are to be held between government ministers and officials and bodies including the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the major landlord trade bodies, to discuss the issue.

Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Justin Tomlinson says: “Everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home, regardless of whether they are in receipt of benefits.

“With Universal Credit, payments can be paid directly to the landlord, and we continue to listen to feedback and work with landlords to improve the system.

“Landlords can already receive rent from tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit – meaning payments can be paid directly into their accounts.

“This helps strengthen the choices and opportunities available for those on benefits to secure the homes they and their families need.”

And a statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says housing minister Heather Wheeler has made it clear that letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on Housing Benefit “should end.”

Out of 4.5m households living in private rental accommodation, 889,000 receive housing benefit to help pay their rent.

However, the MHCLG says latest figures show around half of landlords said they would not be willing to let to tenants on Housing Benefit – ruling out thousands of vulnerable people and families.

“In the coming months, ministers will meet leading industry representatives, including mortgage providers, landlord associations, tenant groups, and property websites to clamp down on blanket exclusions in adverts – with a view to stopping them altogether” says the statement from the MHCLG.

  • icon

    Landlords can reject this category of applicants for any reason they choose, what is the point of taking no DSS from the adverts if the landlord will not take them, is it not the tenant that is having the time wasted?
    Clearly the likes of government and shelter want landlords to ignore the fact that 61% of these tenants are in arrears to the tune of £2300 according to the RLA.
    This is yet another vote winner from the government which will do nothing

  • Angus Shield

    Without checking; can/could lenders/Freeholders/ Greater Landlords stipulate what calibre/status of tenant they would expect their BTL LL/Client to let out to?
    I know they can stipulate what type of agreements must be used.
    Also when does a TA become a credit/loan agreement; when the tenant is in arrears?
    Are Shelter trying to justify their existence or their funding?

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    Many lender stipulate as part of their T and Cs, no benefit clients. Presumably the government need to change this legislation also then? Just wasting everyone’s time, creating more hassle on the day of viewing, for a tenancy that possibly “ain’t gonna get the house”!

     
  • icon

    Where in any law does it say that I, as a Landlord, cannot make any decision I want about the people I want to allow to use my property.?

    My property. My choice. Finished.

    And at the same time, does the Government now have the decision on what words I put in my rental ads? Of so, I will just change the wording - but be sure it will be clear.

    Would the Government object if I write in my advertisement: "No tenants with any debts" or " No filthy scroungers"?

    For sure better copywriters than me will find the right, but clear vocabulary. And where does that leave them?

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    100% agree. These rental are our “investments”. It’s like the government tampering with your stocks and share. Should be illegal

     
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    I do agree with you in principle (as a landlord and a lettings agent) but it can be seen as discrimination ie it is illegal already to refuse people on the basis of skin colour or religion. But this proposal is very naiive, apart from many lenders and insurers also not wanting DSS at all (or possibly for an increase in premium or interest rate) is the issue of rent money. If it is paid direct to landlord or agent but the tenant obtained that benefit by fraud (eg unemployment but they have a cash job) then the money will be reclaimed up to 6 years later but not from the fraudster, from the landlord or agent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That needs to change first.

     
    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 10:19 AM

    that would be when they make it the law. this is clearly fobbing off their responsibility for social housing to the private sector. Is there any association or organisation that would take them to court? until then, we are all at the mercy of the council and the parliament.

     
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    My lender has made the decision for me in my t’s&c’c no benefits problem solved. However if the government is listening why haven’t they stopped the claw back when payments made were made as a result of the tenant not informing them of changes. That’s not my problem, do they contact Tesco’s etc to get the money spent back too?

  • Neil Moores

    Sounds like another winner. I hope the government is also going to ensure that mortgage lenders stop discrimination against people on benefits too. All joking apart though when are the powers that be going to stop discriminating against employed people? My children all have jobs and don't claim benefits but, because of that, they have been told that it is very unlikely that they would be considered for a council or Housing Association home and have been told specifically "because you have a job"!

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    The 2 are separate issue here Neil. I honestly believe your family are very decent. The very real concern is that many landlords have had bad experiences with “many” benefit clients. The stats are there to see for non payment, damage and a complete disrespect for someone’s home. This is the reason that most lenders stipulate this in their lending T and Cs. The landlord has no option.

    It should be the government your family are shouting at to build more council houses to eleviate the problem, not expecting private landlords to pick up the pieces. I genuinely wish them well

     
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    This Tomlinson fellow is reported to have said this ( as above )...

    “With Universal Credit, payments can be paid directly to the landlord, and we continue to listen to feedback and work with landlords to improve the system.

    “Landlords can already receive rent from tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit – meaning payments can be paid directly into their accounts.

    This is what Shelter is stating online are the reasons the tenant has to provide for the rent to be paid directly to landlords...

    1) proof you’re in rent arrears or have other priority debts
    2) personal issues that make it difficult to budget

    Is this Tomlinson character guilty here of being disingenuous? He makes it sound as if it's straightforward.

    Can anyone deny that having a tenant not on benefits is much easier than this.

    Nothing but trouble! Why complicate the hell out of things!

    One more thing, it's not only the DSS tenant that can be a problem - sometimes it's the local council when some chinless wonder stops their payment because of some red tape or mistake and they have to re-apply.

    Best keep it simple!

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 10:12 AM

    This Tomlinson character obviously dont know that the tenant can claim housing benefit, get landlord to sign for the rental to be paid to landlord account, once moved in, then change the info and told council to paid direct to their own account without informing the landlord. In such cases, the council tax then tell the landlord its up to the tenant where they want the rent money to go to. nothing a landlord can do about it although rent arrears.

     
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    I should have added, that historically, I have also known Local Authorities have not paid me rent owing when they had agreed to send the rent directly.

    So even they make it harder for landlords agree to HBT's when they cannot even be trusted, never mind tenants spending the benefit on cigarettes, beer and bingo!!!!!

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 10:25 AM

    you dont get the rent because the tenant went back to them after moving in and change the instruction to paying to themselves and not you. the council will tell you that its up to the tenant. shouldnt we hold the council responsible for using our hard earn tax to subsidise these tenants who dont use it to pay rent?? there must be a way to get the council to be responsible for throwing our hard earn money away

     
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    Having just a sold my large letting agency, at that point the rent “could be paid directly to the landlord”. HOWEVER, this could be reversed at the tenants request at any time, as it’s their money! Most wont take the chance. Anyone know if this rule has been changed?

  • David Gibbs

    As an agent myself, the main issue has always been that when it gets to the point that the landlord either wants to gain possession back due to rent not being paid, the property not being maintained or that they want to sell it, that due to shortage of supply of council homes, the council always advise the tenants to stay put and let the landlord take them to court and get them evicted. Only when a baliff is at their door will the council help to re-house them. So the poor landlord not only has to spend thousands of pounds in court fees and time, but in a lot of cases, they do not get any rent paid to them either!!! Is it any wonder landlords do not want to rent to DSS tenants!!

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    This is so true.
    A previous housing minister, Gavin Barlow, told me that he was squeezing out the PRS in order to get rid of rogues, and he favoured large developments of purpose built rental homes in new estates where the landlord was ideally the Council but failing that, Big Business. For such developments it would be ideal for the Council, as landlord, to take in loads of DSS tenants. Perfect. But leave the PRS alone please

     
    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 10:16 AM

    sue the local council who advised them if they can get it in writing from the tenant that the council told them to stay put. Effectively, all these problems targetting landlords all started with the local council, hmo, rental issues etc etc

     
    Rob  Davies

    @Michael English - Gavin Barlow? Does that mean Gary Barwell is now the lead singer/songwriter of Take That? :)

    In a very competitive field, I think Barwell was possibly the worst Housing Minister of recent times. And now he's helping May to dilly-dally endlessly on Brexit, without a clue as to how she's going to leave on 29 March 2019 while pleasing all parties (she won't, it's impossible).

    As for a clampdown on no DSS, I don't know enough about the lettings market to offer too much comment, but seems the general consensus it that it's more unwarranted government intervention in a sector they don't seem to understand.

     
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    We currently have four Section 8 notices in progress, all due to DSS tenants defaulting on rent, then being told by the council to stay on in the property. Bailiffs are on the way. Will those landlords let to people on benefits again? Not a chance.

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    Quite right and of course, anyone who is not a total idiot would understand the issues here.

    Councils have to start to understand the that the private sector is trying to help them, but of course, they close their ears and shut their eyes.

    Of course I will protect my property investment at all costs. No brainer.

     
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    Yes payments of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit can be paid directly to the Agent/Landlord but they have to be 2 months in arrears for this to kick in. Always run the risk of having it clawed back if they don't conform to the rules.

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    The problem also is that the tenant can cancel their benefit claim if they want to be bloody minded so that the landlord doesn't get any money. And they do!

     
    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 10:31 AM

    are you sure? which council is this? we had 3 months arrears and our council refused to do so because said that is up to the tenants despite being in arrears more than 2 months.

     
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    The writing is on the wall for BTL. I am out.

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    Justin Tomlinson is my local MP and maybe he should look at his own constituency's council and the shambles they are when it comes to DSS/ UC. Our rent arrears are made up of about 90% DSS/ UC tenants. They have to be in arrears before the council even consider. Impossible to evict them because the council tell them to stay put. Many more months with unpaid rent before we can reclaim the property. Then the awful deposit guarantee scheme doesnt cover arrears and never equates to the amount of damages either.
    Even when the tenants are in, trying to book an inspection with the Council or try

  • J P
    • J P
    • 04 March 2019 12:36 PM

    Surly the Landlords main objectives are to receive their desired rent amount, from a secure source and that the property is well looked after? If this rental money is coming directly from a government scheme, then i'd say this was pretty secure and whats to say they wont look after the property?

    If this is not the worry of the landlord, then they are only discriminating tenants who are not in full time employment? Unless there is anything else i'm missing?

    If the renal payments are not coming direct from the tenant on benefits, then I see this as a good move for agents, tenants and landlords.

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 13:37 PM

    hi JP, read the above thread. Its all down the drain when you rent to DSS no matter which way you look at it. I had one and he trash the whole place and force my good working professional tenants to leave as they cant stand the trash and mess etc etc and he wont even pay his share of bills.

     
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    The matter is not only payment, my understanding is the chance of damage is greater with benefit clients, not generalising

     
  • J P
    • J P
    • 04 March 2019 14:17 PM

    I have not had time to read all the above, but I do hear where you're coming from with your unfortunate situation. Tenants on benefits do need more support from such government schemes to cover utilities, especially with the constant price rises and these payment need to go straight to the landlord, but that being said, any type of tenants can make a mess and disrespect your property, I do see your point and the risks involved and there defiantly needs to be more support offered to landlords who are willing to accept DSS and UC etc.

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 March 2019 14:31 PM

    Hi JP, its not so much the support but the financial losses that occured just because we take in DSS. they do anything and lots of promises but soon as they got in, they changed the council payment to themselves and council refused to do anything to pay rent as its the tenants money, they said. also the tenant trashed the whole place makes it unbearable for other decent working professional to live there with their mess and dirt and then they started pulling the lightbulbs off the ceiling and pulled off the intercom phone off the wall, knife marks etc etc and the cheapest i can get is 18000 to sort it out without including damages to sofas tables beds and also carpet you name it, its all damaged plus needles everywhere. its not discrimination. its common sense to let whoever you want . not be afraid of being labelled discriminative. they created it, so deal with it.

     
  • icon

    Just say no. Despite what fools in shelter say, it is not discrimination at all, my property I say who goes in, simple, final

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    Quite right.....You have to take care of the property. IT IS YOURS!!!!!!!

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    I was recently contacted by the agent regarding my buy to let which was up for rent asking if I would consider a young lad who was on Universal Credit. His grandfather would stand as guarantor. I said OK but on the proviso the council paid the rent directly to myself.
    I then decided to contact the council to see what the rules and regs were. It should be noted that the tenant finds the property first then once they are moved in and in receipt of a tenancy agreement, they take it to the Counci Offices to make an arrangement to have their rent paid. Apparently it can take months for applications to be processed. So who pays the rent in the interim? Also my thoughts were the application could be unsuccessful and I'd be left chasing a guarantor. I went back to the agent and declined in light of this information

  • J P
    • J P
    • 04 March 2019 15:09 PM

    Is there a cap on what the council can pay? If the tenant has already signed and moved in, the price has been agreed and finalised. Surly this will cause an issue if the council deem it too much? The current system seemd to have floors all over it! I think they need to look at fixing it before worrying about removed no DSS notices!

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    Just did the sums on the PRS tenants getting benefits. According to the figures quoted above 0.199% so what is all the fuss about? Say no. The do-gooders get on their high horse and bang their drum for what? It's just a minor minority so deal with it by saying no. Working tenants only. No pass in the credit score arena then no home. Tough cookie baby, clear off to the council and let them sort it out.

  • icon

    The Govt's naivety of business is laughable. !
    They might as well try telling the supermarket to sell bread to the unemployed because their on benefits and can't afford the full market price.
    In fact, that's quite a good analogy, because the issue is about as much to do with any discrimination by Landlords, as the price of bread !
    Landlords won't rent to tenants on benefits because Government has Frozen LHA and Also introduced U.C - enough said ! - and Tenant's can afford to pay market prices, which incidentally have been driven up by most if not all the interventions Govt have made in the PRS over last several years. From Sec 24 Mortgage Interest - to Licensing etc. Its all driven up rent with marginal or no benefit to its stated aim.
    Govt couldn't run a sweet shop let alone a rental business.

  • icon

    Perfectly correct on that thought. Clueless Government on how the PRS works.

    And they have wittingly and knowingly made it more expensive for the people they intended to make it cheaper for.

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    Awww unlucky guys, you basically become a landlord to get someone to buy a house/flat for you but you accidentally become business owners / suppliers and are going to have to follow the same anti discrimination laws.

    Sit back and watch how nobody outside the landlord business is on your side...

    Go and do something more morally acceptable with your lives instead of just making it harder for the world to get a roof over their heads.

  • icon

    I am sure I am not the only one to be fed up of all this and actively exiting. There are much better and more lucrative opportunities which certainly do not have all this hassle.

  • Angus Shield

    Wow, what a read, what passion too!

    I am a Letting Agent of nearly 20+ years and our daily toil is a minefield of bureaucracy, compliance and now not causing offence to the socially sensitive.

    My agency will simply state that the Referencing will be the decider (for the full & part time employed applicant), or it will be term paid up front.

    Over the course of my Agency ownership, we have learned that the tenant is king, and the Landlord/agent is insignificant. It was a circuit JP that reminded me (at a possession hearing), that as Agent I was the ‘filling in the sandwich’ as my tenant was my customer, my Landlord my client and the local authority my financier (re letting commission not earned due to the arrears).
    Even Guarantor agreements are becoming difficult to pursue as the advice from the 'do-gooders' is to effectively break the law, stay put as you (the tenant) are protected by law from unscrupulous (yet tempting) behaviour to recover the property.

    We have just had a 6-month AST turn rotten at the 4-month point. Common sense prevailed and ALL parties mutually surrendered with the registered deposit being passed over for the last month’s rent & cleaning; That is proactive problem solving not Quango meddling!

    Why won’t Shelter/others consult with experienced Agents & Landlords before spouting cheap, ill-considered, vote winning edicts!

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    Morning Angus, yes, that about sums things up. We have just sold our large letting agency after receiving a very good offer out the blue. All your points hit a nerve but the real stinger was re Shelter.

    “Home prevention officers” - on numerous occasions we had applicants we were unable to help due to various reasons. Whilst we were under no obligation or duty to help further, we felt that being a good honest, kind caring agency we contacted Shelter to ask for advice on specific situations, mental health clients, homeless etc and were told “every time” they did not speak to agencies or landlords! I cannot tell you to this day how much I despise a so called charity who do not practice what they preach. We were calling to say HELP, but there was no help coming. That is why I feel so sorry for the invisible homeless when you have an organisation like this

     
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    MRC recently had a situation whereby the council found out that a tenant was claiming HB that they were not entitled to. As the benefit was paid direct to ourselves due to the tenant being in arrears on many occasions, the council calculated that the over-payment was £16,000.00.
    The council then informed us that they were going to claim this money back from MRC, as, under the current legislation they can claim the money back from whoever the money was paid to.
    The government know that agents collect this money on behalf of the landlord and it is obviously perverse to try to make Agents responsible in this way.
    MRC have sent letters and copies of all documentation to Heather Wheeler, NALS and our local MP to highlight the reasons why Agents and landlords may decline to accept HB payments.
    I think it is fair to point out that we appealed this decision and was successful, however, as the law stands there is no absolute laid down ruling that a landlord can use if the council decide to pursue the Agent or landlord.
    I would also point out that Heather Wheeler has not yet responded to my correspondence and NALS have been no use whatsoever other than offering sympathy

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    What about the rest of the benefits are they claiming them back from Asda Tesco etc? Or just discrimating against the landlord. Surely it must include all the benefits not a portion of it

     
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    Only a fool would take on a tenant on HB/UC

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