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Council advising tenants to stay put?!?

(49 Posts)
Aimlessly Mon 26-Oct-15 11:01:55

Our family has just returned from living abroad - hello sunny England! and are planning on moving back into our property that we have been letting out.

We just got a call this morning from the letting agents saying that our tenants have advised them that they can not find another property in their price range and the council is telling them to stay put. What?!?

It is not like we are property investors and are just trying to get higher rent. We do not have any other accommodation. My children need to have a roof overhead and be placed in school. How can the council do this? What action can we take and how long should we expect to be displaced?

Totally shocked!

SweetAdeline Mon 26-Oct-15 13:08:49

It stopped being her principal private residence when she moved abroad and let it out to someone else.
You don't get exemptions from the law just because you are an accidental landlord. It's a shit situation but it's one of the risks of being a landlord. If the OP didn't want to take those risks she shouldn't have let her house out whilst she was abroad.

SweetAdeline Mon 26-Oct-15 13:12:08

In fact it doesn't matter if she is a property investor or not, she is a landlord and this is a risk of being a landlord.
OP do you have legal cover through your landlord's insurance? If you give them a call they should be able to advise on next steps and how long the process should take.

hereandtherex Mon 26-Oct-15 13:17:10

I think the comment about the 6 months secondment is insane.

The college needs to cover the cost of having the flat house-sat/maintained whilst the person is away. You really cannot let a place for a fixed, 6 month interval.

Round me, it takes ~ 2 months to a let a place. And the shortest rental contract is 6 months. Most renters will not be interested in short lets.

She might get a short corporate let but they are few and far between outside of large cities.

howtorebuild Mon 26-Oct-15 13:19:48

Why on earth would they make up the six month rent?

The two month thing could be when the owner was resident.

lalalonglegs Mon 26-Oct-15 13:24:50

OP - when you have notice, did you (or your agents) issue a S21 notice? If so, you can immediately apply for a court date for eviction and, when you have that, arrange a date for bailiffs to execute the eviction notice. If not, you will have to send a S21 notice now requiring two months' notice and wait for that to expire before you can start the court procedures I it could well take several months.

SurlyCue Mon 26-Oct-15 13:30:19

The 'intentionally homeless' classification is absurd. This is the very reason landlords don't want to rent property out to tenants who require benefits/support.

Err its nothing to do with benefits or "support" hmm anyone can apply for a council house and anyone in a private let who has been given notice will be told (if they approach the council) to stay put.

Why on earth did you not research this process before deciding to become a landlord? Surely knowing how long it would take to get your property back would be high priority? confused

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Mon 26-Oct-15 13:48:04

Cheapest 3 bed rentals round here are £1k a month
To rent a house at that rate without a guarantor you need an income of £3k a month before tax.
If you don't have a guarantor or sufficient income you can pay 6 months rent up front (a recent innovation in lettings)
If you don't have any of those things, even if you have saved the £2k you need just to move (deposit and fees) and you have children who need to be housed then you have literally no choice.

Things were not like this 5 years ago. They were bad, but not this bad. When private rental becomes unattainable for the average working family something is extremely fucked.

wowfudge Mon 26-Oct-15 13:51:04

I don't get the argument about the person seconded abroad - the tenants there could have been renting whilst they were buying their own place or looking for a six month rental or said they were happy with six months for any number of reasons. You don't decide to go abroad in those circumstances and only advertise for tenants the day you move out.

redstrawberry10 Mon 26-Oct-15 14:11:11

In fact it doesn't matter if she is a property investor or not, she is a landlord and this is a risk of being a landlord.

I don't think anyone is questioning that this is a risk of being a landlord. It clearly is. What we are saying is that it ought not be one. The law is shitty, and should be viewed as such when the council recommends breaking contracts.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Mon 26-Oct-15 14:19:41

It's not just the law that is shitty. The law should be called upon in extremis not relied upon as part of the daily fabric of council housing departments but the whole housing system is shitty. Insufficient social housing + unattainable private rental = no fucking choice. I hate the way blame falls on tenants in these cases and the system gets ignored.

redstrawberry10 Mon 26-Oct-15 14:41:14

I hate the way blame falls on tenants in these cases and the system gets ignored.

from what I can tell, the OP is clear about not blaming the tenant, as am I. It's clearly the system, which includes our woeful housing situation, and the law which is to blame.

Preminstreltension Mon 26-Oct-15 14:45:00

Awful. And although I can understand why the Council say that as they just want to put off the evil day when they need to they are dissuading anyone else from renting to anyone who might one day need to call on the Council. OP is clearly not blaming the tenants and has clearly done everything by the book - then to be faced with a governmental agency encouraging someone to deny her access to her property. That's pretty terrible given contracts were apparently duly issued and respected.

SurlyCue Mon 26-Oct-15 16:18:26

"they are dissuading anyone else from renting to anyone who might one day need to call on the Council."

So everyone then.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Mon 26-Oct-15 16:24:05

I don't know how long this can go on for as it is. I was signing my tenancy renewal today and the silly cow who was dealing with me was also training someone on how to list properties online. She commented 'Christ that's cheap for a 2 bed' and quoted £850 for a flat in X town. The local housing allowance rate for a 2 bed flat in X town is £650. 5 years ago when I was looking you could find 2 bed flats for £600, houses for £700. 5 years later they have gone up by at least crap at maths 43%? How much have incomes gone up by in 5 years?

Jux Mon 26-Oct-15 16:41:48

Unfortunately, in order to avoid having to find non-existent accommodation for people, Council's best advice is to do exactly this, in the (probably vain) hope that your tenants will find somewhere themselves.

In the meantime, maybe you could throw yourselves on the mercy of the same Council and ask them to house you until your tenants are evicted.

It is crazy.

specialsubject Mon 26-Oct-15 16:45:39

I'm afraid this is exactly what happens, and is why you need legal expenses insurance. If your tenants cannot find anywhere to rent that they can afford, and won't move somewhere that they can, they need to throw themselves on the mercy of the council. Who will almost certainly have no houses so they may well end up in a hostel or b and b. Meanwhile you are also stuffed and faced with a lot of expense. Broken system caused by many factors, such as over population, everyone wanting to be one in one corner, right to buy, frozen wages, not enough social housing etc etc.

rents have not of course gone up hugely everywhere, although that is irrelevant here.

Of course, a section 21 is never a 'notice to quit' It is a notice that if the tenants don't leave, legal proceedings will commence. After that it takes about 4 months and lots of money to evict them. So you were always risking that they just would not leave. Sorry.

I can only suggest that you look to rent somewhere in the area, which means a minimum six months. BTW your tenants are likely to continue paying their rent or they will be classed as 'intentionally homeless'.

head for landlordzone if your agent don't help, you'll just get buried in anti-landlord bile here for daring to have a property that you didn't live in for a while.

BrandNewAndImproved Mon 26-Oct-15 16:49:46

Can you claim the cost for eviction off your landlords insurance?

specialsubject Mon 26-Oct-15 17:10:05

if you have the right insurance, yes.

all landlords should have legal expenses cover as well as buildings and contents, including malicious damage. I also think all landlords should have home emergency cover for the property, and rent guarantee if you can't afford a void.

costs a fair bit -costs less than the alternatives.

oldzebra Mon 11-Jan-16 12:04:00

I'm surprised you weren't aware this was a risk when you decided to rent out your family home? Didn't you research the pitfalls or ask the agents about anything that could potentially affect you in the future?

I looked into letting issues back in 2003/2004 and decided against it, not least because of the potential financial risks associated with an illiquid asset, or the social responsibility of providing a home for someone - ie would have felt bad about just kicking them out of their home because it suited me.

When I asked about the service provided by letting agents and their insurance against tenants' non-payment of rent I was advised that the only instance the insurance wouldn't pay out was if the tenant was advised by the Council to stay put after a Section 21 was issued.

Clearly I researched further and found out that it can take nine months to resolve the issue - and nine months of the rent not being paid in some cases.

More than a risk I'd be prepared to take on. However, lots of people have piled into buy to let saying they were prepared to be risk takers and you've got to "speculate to accumulate" mentality. I assumed they'd all researched all the angles and understood this risk and financially factored in voids, tenants not moving out just because a S21 is issued.

Most people on this thread also seem to be aware this has always been the standard advice for tenants from the Council too.

Five years ago a friend was given this advice when her landlord returned from New Zealand ie" find a new home pronto as I want my house back". Turns out issuing a Section 21 is just a request and the Council will tell the tenant to stay put and not to make themselves homeless. Providing a home to someone because it suits you financially at the time comes with risks.

When letting a property a large pot of emergency money is required to be on hand for such potential situations. That's the risk for the reward of potential gains.

Hope the tenants find something suitable, but I wouldn't expect them to jump and find a new home immediately just because it now suits you. Investments come with risks. It doesn't matter that you don't consider yourself to be in it for the money etc - fact is you are - they paid your mortgage for you and it suited you financially at the time, and now you want them gone. You became a landlord when you let your property and you need to take it on the chin and say that's the risk I took.

oldzebra Mon 11-Jan-16 12:05:35

The insurance situation may have changed since 2003 when I researched the issue. I wouldn't just trust what the letting agent tells you though - research it yourself and contact the insurance company.

I was told back then that it wasn't something they liked to highlight and gave the impression the rent would continue to be paid whilst legal action was taken etc.

specialsubject Mon 11-Jan-16 12:49:25

I will check the small print on my rent guarantee insurance, although I thought this was covered.

a section 21 is indeed just notice that if the tenant doesn't leave, legal action will start.

OP, hope you are making progress.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Mon 11-Jan-16 13:11:07

OP: are you using a letting agent? Have they served the correct notice (usually a section 21) in the correct way? If not, get a solicitor involved now as it will save you time and money in the longer term.
You need to give two months notice, served in the correct way. If they do not move you need to go to court (1 month) where you will win the case if the paperwork is in order. Tenants will then get another month to leave. If they still refuse to go you need to go back to court and they will be physically evicted by bailiffs. The whole process will take a minimum of four months. If you do not get the notice right you will be back to square one.
Make it clear to the tenants if they refuse to pay any outstanding rent you will get a county court judgement for the outstanding monies. This will have a long term impact on their credit rating.

oldzebra Mon 11-Jan-16 13:23:17

specialsubject: I was told that yes it covers legal fees - what it doesn't cover is the rent that then continues to accrue after the Court becomes involved.

I know ideally people say it will be sorted in four months - unfortunately depends on many factors and nine months is what I've found to be more common.

The rent guarantee only covers certain situations and if a tenant decided not to pay the rent while eviction process with Court was ongoing, then the protection didn't pay out in that case.

A tenant doesn't have to allow access for viewers once the Section 21 has been issued either.

All risks that should be factored in to financially assessing becoming a landlord.

FragileBrittleStar Mon 11-Jan-16 13:33:16

I think it varies between council - I was told that legally a section 21 notice should be enough for a council to say that someone is unintentionally homeless - but some councils insist on waiting til eviction (better for council to delay as long as possible) (Islington council made my tenant 1) move back in after they had already moved out and 2) wait til the day the bailiffs came - which just cost so much more is legal/professional costs)
On arrears- it is easier not to include the arrears in the original court actions- you can then sue for arrears separately

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