Hidden Homeless Crisis.

Hidden Homeless Crisis.

Statutory homelessness statistics, for England from 2011, show that there were 48,510 acceptances in the UK; up 14% from 42,390 acceptances in 2010.

And on a seasonally-adjusted basis, 49,390 households were living in temporary accommodation on 31st December 2011; a 1% increase from 48,670 in the previous quarter.

But what about ‘the hidden homeless’?

The Government’s headline homelessness statistics focus on those owed the main homelessness duty and entitled to accommodation.

However, it has recently been estimated that there are over 17,000 ‘hidden homeless’ ; AKA sleeping on the floors/sofas of friends and families (‘sofa-surfing’), living in squats, B&B’s or hostels. We believe that it is time that ‘hidden homelessness’ is recognised as a major social problem facing Britain today. Providing people with a roof over their head is not a solution on its own, and must run alongside solutions that help people rebuild their lives. But despite meeting the legal definition of homelessness, this hidden sector of society is still not regarded as a priority for decision makers.

At Landlord Referencing we believe that this blatant disregard of a gradually worsening situation for the UK is a major factor in the creation of the ‘modern ghettos’ that are beginning to emerge in the UK today.

Not only can finding somewhere to stay every night cause:

  • extreme stress
  • depression
  • instability

it can also be extremely dangerous;

  • inadequate accommodation
  • overcrowding
  • unsafe/run-down houses
  • living without central heating, etc.

Sofa surfing is also an absolute nightmare for landlords and letting agents; simply because you can’t tell who or how many people are inhabiting your property. As well as major health & safety breaches for both the tenant and the landlord, sofa surfing/over crowding can also cause:

  • alienation of good tenants (loss of rent)
  • quicker dilapidation / wear & tear of property
  • noise pollution

In a recent TV interview, Housing Minister Grant Shapps acknowledged the shortage of UK housing, but fundamentally linked it to deeper rooted issues; i.e. problematic homes, criminality, etc.

Jack Dromey, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, assigns the problem to the Coalitions ‘dereliction of duty’, brought about by the changes to benefits; increasing poverty, unemployment & shortage of affordable housing.

So, who is to blame?

Is ‘sofa-surfing’ a sign of a troubled economy or inherent problems deeply imprinted into our society?

We would be interested to hear your views on the matter.

Join the discussion HERE.

At Landlord Referencing we believe that it doesn’t actually matter who is to blame or not.

As a nation, we want competent leaders who can provide us with the answers to create a fair and just system for our society and NOT playground tactics from out-of-touch toffs.

Housing may not be the root of the problem but it certainly is one of the most important factors and therefore MUST be made a priority if, as a nation, we are to move onwards and upwards.

Lets get our priorities right.

ds-1

Author: Tenant Referencing

Keeping you up to date with all the most important changes, all the most interesting gossip and all the big news in the Private Rented Sector.

15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Shocking Bristol poverty report reveals an average of 9 people are chasing each private tenancy. | LandlordReferencing.co.uk

  2. Pingback: 70% rise in evictions over the past 3 years. | LandlordReferencing.co.uk

  3. Like Alan Robinson all my tenants are escorted to the Benefits Office to hand in their forms and check that they have made the claim properly. The local council tried (unsuccessfully) to ban me from escorting the tenants to the office as I was interfering with their right to privacy. They claimed I was the only landlord to escort tenants and that it was not necessary. A few torn up AST’s later they relented under protest. No one gets an AST unless they are escorted to the Benefits office and the council are satisfied that all the correct documentation is in place. When benefit is stopped for anyu reason the tenant is personally escorted to the council office to rectify the claim. The council most definitely do not like it but I have my income to protect.

  4. Pingback: An average of 9 people are chasing each private tenancy.

  5. Hi Sharon,

    That is a real problem if a fire breaks out, a building you thought you had 13 tenants in with the odd girlfriend or boyfriend can be housing 40 people on a Saturday night.

    This problem is just growing, until 2 years ago I owned an HMO for homeless tenants who needed a first start, I was called out to a tenants flat where there was a disturbance. On my arrival I was amazed to find that in a small studio self contained bedsit 12′ x 18′ that had a small small bathroom their were 8 people sleeping there over night. The guest had actually made up their bed in the bath!.

    It was just 2 much trouble so I turned it into 1 bed flats for working only.

    • So what’s next?. A new piece of legislation against over crowding, where the landlord will be held responsible for problems that are created due to over crowding by their tenants.

      Now you may laugh but It is only around the corner trust me!. A fire breaks out and the sofa surfers die through smoke inhalation whilst drunk and the landlord is held responsible due to negligence for not being diligent enough and lapsing in their duty of care.

  6. I have an HMO which consists of 13 studio apartments that I let out to LHA tenants. It is right next to my office and all my tenants know that I get in at around 8.30 am every day. Each time I decide to go in a bit earlier to catch up before the mayhem starts to get peace and quiet to do some figures, or I go in on a weekend when we are normally closed, I see people leaving the building in a dishevelled state that have obviously stayed overnight and are kicked out before I arrive.
    Because it is a communal entrance, you never find out which flat they come from and even though I warn all the tenants it will mean an immediate eviction notice if I find they are harbouring sofa surfers, it still carries on.
    I could do a stake out, but again, as it is a communal area, once they are out of the flat door and into the communal areas, you have no chance of even knowing where they come from. God forbid if there is a fire it will be like rats leaving a burning ship!!!

  7. Here in Derby benefit is paid to the tenant as a default, even the pressure of notices to quit is ignored.
    In the last 24 yrs I have had one HB claimant who has paid fully and so as far as Derby is concerned, it’s NO DSS.
    I would like to see, as some councils do, the council renting directly from the landlord, providing them with good sound accommodation, the property being returned in original condition, in return for an agreed rent, albeit lower than the market average.
    It’s different in Stoke on Trent. For my first HB claimant it is paid direct by bank transfer.
    I’d going to call Alan [above] to see if he has solutions to this problem.

  8. Regarding Loretta’s comment ” what about the good landlords?”. According to all Governments since the introduction of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954; all Tenants are good- all landlords are bad. Hence the heavily weighted legislation against private landlords which appears out of the Whitehall sausage machine on a regular basis. The biggest obstacle to a fair letting system is the heavily subsidised rents charged by Councils by courtesy of the Council Tax Payer, the very people who very often struggle to pay their tax in order for others to live in very good accommodation at a fraction of market rent. As a consequence, private landlords are thus labelled as greed profiteering fat cats, but we all know quite the opposite is the case. I have had a property empty for the last 5 years because I just refuse to let to benefit claimants because they just will not hand over the money given to them for payment of rent.

  9. Hi. I have rented a lot of properties to tenants on benefits and there is a way to secure the rental payments so the tenants can’t spend it!

    We actively go after Tenants on benefits as our system works well as we do our home work including helping the tenants complete their housing benefit form including taking it to the benefits office ourselves to make sure it is handed in! Let me know if I can help you. Alan 07966021090

  10. I agree with the above. Homeless in britain no longer means you are out on the street living likje other countries. I have let my flats to 4 people on housing benefit. the flats were in excellent condition. as the rent goes directly to the claimant i have not receive a penny in rent and so had to evict them after a series of notices’. The rent was spent on cigs, alcohol, mobile phones, and parties. my flats were left a mess, with one tenant taking all the new white goods and the hot water tank! Meanwhile as this is my only income I starve! They also get legal aid which I dont get so they can mess you around. The law is already on their side what about the good landlords? The state remit of not giving the rent to the landlord doesnt help. There are people who will not pay their rent. and deserve to be homeless for that reason. I have to pay my bills, well so should they or be homeless. This is my first trial with housing claimants and will be the last.

    • Hi Loretta,

      Stealing white goods does my head in. If it is on the inventory signed by landlord & tenant on the way in and is clearly the landlords property, how can it be regarded as a civil offence when a tenant knows its not theirs and leaves with it on the way out.

      It is and should be a clear case of documented theft by the tenant and prosecutable in a criminal court.

      • Problem with stealing is proof. We had one experence of a tenant stealing a cooker and a washing machine then “doing a moonlight”. When the police traced him he denied all knowledge, claiming everything was there when he left. The charity that pleaded with us to take him and guaranteed his deposit then decided not to pay out for our loss because we could not prove he stole the items.
        Not to worry, all landlords are filthy rich and can stand such losses.

    • Well: NEVER rent to Council benefits / DDS. NEVER. I did once, the first one I ever rented to, I tried to be a good person and I regreted very much. Furtenately I was the “strong party”, but NEVER AGAIN: better empty than renting to DDS.

  11. I wonder how many of those are intentionally homeless due to their payment record or behaviour.. Quite a few I would imagine?