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OMG, I think I have calmed down a bit, but what a day in Tinky Winy’s purple palace (ask Paul R), AKA Heritage Estate Agents on the High Street in Portishead. I know today is what is known as Blue Monday, where everybody breaks up their relationships and then goes off looking to rent (yep, had a few of those today), but its been mostly DSS. Now before I go any further, I am not the greatest fan of renting to DSS tenants, but we have a few on our portfolio and one of my buy to lets is lived in by a very good one. There is good and bad in most tenants I believe, but we do have a lot of landlords with buy to let mortgages, and yep you have guessed where I am going, cant you?
I have spent the most appalling day taking abuse from foul mouthed mothers who cannot believe that mr landlord who owns a lovely two bed, just been refurbished etc, etc will not let it to her 18 year old pregnant daughter, who already has one child, and oh a lovely bull terrier who is ‘so gentle and clean, he does not smell etc etc …..’, who has no guarantor, no deposit and smells of **** ******* **** **** ******** ******* ***** **** **** **** ***** ******* ********* ******** *** **** ****** ********** ************ **** *********** ************* smoke. Well, I’ve only had one of these in today and all 5 foot 6 inches of me, plus high heels stood up to her and asked her to leave, after I took a barrage of abuse, the likes of which I cannot repeat, just because we cant rent her daughter the particular property she wanted to view. However, every other phone call we have taken in the office today, and I really mean this has been from applicants who receive DSS benefirts, and I am not just talking about top up, ie family credit etc – thats fine, but long term unemployed, or young girls with babies, straight from school. Usually the parents want them to leave to get a place of their own, or they are in properties being sold.
The one which took the biscuit was from a lady whose child suffered from a slight disability, who could not work, and mum and dad would stand as guarantor. Well thats ok, the property in question was you guessed it a BTL with a morgage on it. Ho hum …….. Mum ended up having a slanging match with me over it, which she did not win, so she got hubby to call me. Hubby is a Director of a letting agency, and quite frankly if you are trying to get your granny to suck eggs, get your facts right matey!!!!!! They even offered to take it in their name and sublet to the daughter. Well, no, I dont like being called names because I am doing my job and you didnt get your own way and walk over a mere female – you know who you are, and I wont be recommending any landlords or even tenants to go your way.
We have a set registration process on our operating system, and every phone call that I or my colleagues took, when we asked who was going to be renting it, it was all the same ‘Its for me and my two young children’, or ‘Its for my pregnant daughter’, or even sadder, ‘I am leaving my husband and will have to claim housing benefit’.
Now we dont have a ‘policy’ as such regarding DSS, I have to be honest though and say that most of our landlords prefer not to go this way. We have a handful with with I can only describe as a ‘social conscience’ – in fact one of them will only let to DSS and oddly we have never had any problems with their tenants and its a nice property. If we let to full DSS tenants, we treat them as we would employed – they pay our fees, get referenced, have a guarantor and we take a deposit, which is one and a half months rent, and they must prove they have the means to pay their rent until their benefit payments kick in. Rent is also payable pcm, not 4 weekly.
So, landlords and letting agents, whats your policy about DSS tenants – do you take them or not, and how do you do it?
I will NEVER take DSS tenants. My husband and I have 5 properties and we rented 1 out to a DSS tenant who completely trashed the place, even urinated on the carpets and left overnight owing my husband a fortune. He still gets his benefits – we get a huge bill to repair the entire flat and have a massive void trying to get another tenant who isn’t on DSS!!
Shocking! If the government allow the benefit to come directly to the owner, consideration would be given as at least your rent would be paid, but never again when it ends up in the hands of weed-smoking, work shy idiots!
Do you take DSS tenants?
no no no way
Do you take DSS tenants?
not any more, too many problems.
I have a single let with a housing benefit recipient which has been absolutely fine for several months.
I have just started filling my HMO with tenants who require Housing Benefit. So far my experience hasn’t been too bad but there’s lots of paperwork and dealing with the council isn’t the best!
I feel that there will be quite a bit of management required but I’m a good “people person” and I’m up for the challenge.
I have quite a thorough checklist (courtesy of a fellow investor) to go through with any potential tenant before I decide whether to take them on.
As I have posted many times before on this site I do take DSS tenants – and been publicly castigated because they should now be called DWP tenants! I only take them if the rent is paid direct to me for I know, as do all of you, that once a claimant has the money in his hands it will be spent on luxuries which I cannot afford. And that’s not fair (with apologies to David Cameron et al).
When Universal Credit comes I will make a prediction that, despite all the government rhetoric, there will be direct payment to landlords by default or at least on demand. In no small measure is this because of the actions of people like Fergus Wilson in evicting all his DSS tenants. A few more large landlords will follow before the government realises that the PRS is important and has to be paid or become de minimus.
Unless the government adopts Mary Latham’s regime, or something remarkable close to it, and Paul B’s rapid eviction for rent arrears there will be no PRS for DSS tenants within two years.
2 DSS tenants, 2 evictions, trashed properties. Never ever again, their are to many decent hard working tenants out there. Both the evicted tenants were single mums. This government are stacking up a shed load of issues if they think that Universal Credit is a good thing. They will end up paying a fortune in B&B costs.
Just to repeat myself “I would never again give a tenancy to DSS tenants and if you do you have a very high chance of the rent not being paid and the house being trashed”
Shelter told my DSS tenant not to move out until the Baliffs actually through her out.
Dont take this kind of tenant or you will more than likely have end up with a very large bill for not only the eviction process but lack of rent and trash and damage they are likely to do.
You HAVE Been Warned.
I do not take DSS tenants usually but will consider depending on their circumstances. I have in the past had a couple of tenants who have gone onto benefits after they have been in the property for a while. One was nothing but heartache as he initially “forgot” to pass on the rent and the letting agents I used at the time were next to useless at getting the money off him (funnily enough I don’t use agents any more except for one property which is 500 miles from me). He gradually cleared the arrears but it took 5 years – and two months later he gave notice and moved into council sheltered housing leaving me to completely refurbish (he was a bit of a hoarder). However I have one current tenant on DSS who is the perfect occupant – he pays the rent on time every month, only calls occasionally and only when there is good reason and I would hardly know he was there. So you just can’t tell! However I deal with DSS tenants all the time through my work as a debt and housing adviser so will never be too keen – I’ve seen and heard too many horror stories where I really wouldn’t want to be their landlord!
It just happens that I’ve just sent two comments out in response to a couple of articles published by the Guardian – this is a synopsis:
Most private landlords don’t accept LHA tenants because they can’t afford the risk – although it is also true that most of those on LHA (Local Housing Allowance NOT DSS) are perfectly decent people, where there is free money being given out there are always going to be criminals who know how to get around the credit and character checks all professional landlords carry out – I saw this first hand when I worked for the DWP. I would only consider a tenant on LHA (unless it was someone I already knew) if I had the resources to carry that risk – at the moment I don’t. Less discrimination, more like an insurer turning you down as you’re in a high risk category (think of car insurance where young male drivers pay higher premiums – if they get insurance at all or home insurance if you live near a flood plain). Of those, usually large, landlords who do take LHA tenants, to take mostly LHA is, at least in my opinion, a huge financial risk.
A large number of landlords are in fact not much better off financially than benefit claimants and are disqualified from claiming benefits if they hold the property they depend on for an income in their own name. Being a (good) landlord is an enormous responsibility, just like running any other business.
For the benefit of this topic, I will add this – just as comments from left wing extremists about the economy needing to be planned and people banned from owning and letting buy to let property are not helpful (to put it very politely) – neither are assumptions about “DSS” tenants and tarring all people on benefits with the same brush. I worked as a floor manager at a job centre – every day I had to face abusive, unpleasant people who couldn’t be reasoned with, and others who thought “free money – lets see what I can get!” Still, I realised that most of the customers who visited the office simply went quietly and politely about their business there, and when I did interact with them were extremely pleasant and grateful for my help. What I’m saying is that most benefit claimants are like the latter – just people like ourselves (and in fact there are one or two landlords who could be benefit claimants themselves if the rules were changed…) it’s the claimants with issues who are the loudest and most visible (as they scream about their “entitlements” and won’t take no for an answer), hence we think they represent the majority of claimants.
The treatment of Cathy is clearly unacceptable and I also wouldn’t want these people as my tenants.
I have been letting since 1980 and have various types of tenants.
Two single mums with children for 10 years and 5 years respectively – they are paid benefits direct and neither one has ever missed a payment.
I also have a house let to a charity that houses ex drug addicts and alcoholics. they are excellent tenants and clean the house from top to bottom each day.
I have a flat rented to two ex drug addicts who now work as support workers.
All these people pay the rent on time, and are good tenants.
My worst recent tenant was an evangelical pastor who left owing £2500 and took most of the furniture.
I agree that statistically certain types of tenants are more problematic but you can still find good tenants in all sections of the community. Credit checks and a personal interview can minimise a lot of the risk but not remove it completely.
Hi The treatment of Cathy is clearly unacceptable and I also wouldn’t want these people as my tenants. I have been letting since 1980 and have various types of tenants. Two single mums with children for 10 years and 5 years respectively – they are paid benefits direct and neither one has ever missed a payment. I also have a house let to a charity that houses ex drug addicts and alcoholics. they are excellent tenants and clean the house from top to bottom each day. I have a flat rented to two ex drug addicts who now work as support workers. All these people pay the rent on time, and are good tenants. My worst recent tenant was an evangelical pastor who left owing £2500 and took most of the furniture. I agree that statistically certain types of tenants are more problematic but you can still find good tenants in all sections of the community. Credit checks and a personal interview can minimise a lot of the risk but not remove it completely. Best Wishes BobG
You are correct there are good and bad DWP tenants.
Trouble is LL cannot take the risk of a wrongun as they don’t have the resources to cover mortgage payments if they have to evict a tenant.
Change the eviction process and the problem will solve itself.
Remember that whilst HB should be paid direct if 2 payments are missed; if the tenant fails to respond to the council, they will suspend any claim and no HB will be paid direct.
Renting to LHA/HB can work very well you just have to educate yourself to how the system works, get a basic knowledge of the HB process, pick the right tenants, get a guarantor if possible, fully reference tenants and try to avoid young single mums (unless they have a local guarantor) and single men.
Also be pro-active in dealing with late payments, get the tenant to sign an agreement agreeing claim can be discussed with landlord and have a good inventory in place with regular inspections.
If the above is followed you will remove a lot of the potential problems and likely to have a long term tenant.
Most HB tenants problems are caused by jumping in too quickly, lack of knowledge of the system, not being pro-active and believing every hard luck excuse the tenant gives.
Nope i’ll not it has too many problems !
Sadly not any more
Having had properties for over 25 years I have come to realise in recent years that DSS tenants are simply not “Fit For Purpose”.
I used to take in DSS tenants until about 10 years ago when I saw the light. With the plethora of good, decent and hard working tenants available to me make it unnecessary to do so.
When we both as an agent and landlord get asked about a property from a dss claimant, we simply tell them that the landlords mortgage does not allow them to take DSS tenants, because this is a fact. When they throw the discrimination card at me I point them in the direction of the mortgage company and tell them to take it up with them.
Sadly the benefit culture in this country has created this culture because who pays for all the lost rent and damage caused by a the few claimants that ruin it for all the other decent ones? I know I won’t be takign the risk
Mark A Reynolds Pierce & Co Residential Letting Agents http://www.pierceandco.co.uk 01296 20 1234
Don’t take DSS myself. Experience has shown that they always end up in arrears. If the system reverted to a few years ago when they could sign over the rent to the landlord at the start of the tenancy WITHOUT being able to change the arrangement when it suited them, (ie, the landlord is effectively guaranteed the rent, regardless of the wishes of the benefit recipient), then I would consider taking DSS again.
My present insurance company doesn’t allow DHS people — at least that is one excuse I use. They certainly prefer working people – as do I, and premiums do vary according to the tenant.
My past experience has been that tenants still cannot afford the small amount of money they have to top up the rent by, and seem to spend on other things before paying rent. To my mind, this is theft. The money given as a benefit was for a specific item and they have used it for something else.
No rent, but large televisions & sofas, latest toys, pets & cigarettes. Maybe it is all ‘on tick’, but it seems being given money instead of working for it makes it of less value morally.
Also, when it comes to asking them to move on they seem to have more rights via the council to stay put!
I try not to slur everone in the same way, but one can only go by experience and I do not wish to repeat some of those. Working tenants can be just as ‘bolshi’ but in the main there is a definite difference. They seem to have more pride.
I used to take them, until I had one couple who paid two weeks rent, then never paid another penny. North Somerset Council were paying the rent to them, but they were not passing it on. I advised North Somerset of this, and they advised that they would with-hold future payments to the tenants, and once they were 8 weeks in arrears they would then pay us. On the day the 8 weeks were up I phoned to confirm that they would now pay us, only to be told that a member of staff had inadvertently paid them in error. They were unable to pay us, as they cannot make the payment twice. Even solicitors could not find a way round this one, so I no longer take DSS.
Why anyone would take under funded dss tenants is beyond me.
We are wary of DSS tenants as the lack of respect for the property and irresponsibility in keeping on top of rental. Although there are good and bad but with all the negative stories and situation constantly taking place our Landlords prefer professionals.
We recently purchased our first BTL property a large one bed flat out of the area had quite an interest. The majority of calls were made mainly by men some mentioned that they had a wife and child forgetting to mention expecting another, young couples expecting their first child viewed really wanted flat then asked if accepted DSS, one enquired about the Council as out of the area!!! We managed to get a professional tenant.
The problem is the DSS tenant in the flat below has been a nightmare playing loud music being a nuisance etc – court case pending which was not confirmed prior to purchase!!
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