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Please help... Reluctant landlord and tenant not paying rent

(21 Posts)
Bouncearound Wed 04-Nov-15 14:58:21

The reason why I rent out a house is very long and boring but it has sentimental value and we can't live in it so rent it out.
We used an agent to find a tenant who moved in a year ago and claimed housing benefit- no problem to us. We manage the tenancy ourselves. She hasn't paid any rent since August and despite lots of communication from us nothing has changed; she says housing benefit are messing her around and keeps promising to sort it out. She never had any phone credit to ring me and regularly ignores my calls and texts.
Today the agent got in touch to say although they don't manage the tenancy they have heard on the grapevine that the tenant is experiencing difficulties and would recommend I get in touch to find out her intentions. They wouldn't divulge what the issues are as they said it was based on hearing through the grapevine.

I'm not sure what advice anyone can offer but I'm so desperate to sort this out now. Don't want to evict her if the rent situation can be resolved but we can't afford to not receive the rent!
Deposit is in a deposit scheme, tenancy agreement was all set up properly and everything has been done by the book. The agent says they can only help if we get the tenant to take out a new tenancy with them as the landlord and pay a management fee (yep, we should have done this initially!) but we don't want to do this without knowing if the housing benefit will be reinstated...any advice would be much appreciated sad

Bearbehind Wed 04-Nov-15 15:11:25

I can't advise on the process for evicting the tenant but one thing that jumps out from your post is that the letting agents sound extremely unprofessional and unscrupulous.

Telling you something they've 'heard on the grapevine' is disgraceful as the only reason they've done this is to get more money out of you.

The very last thing you want to do in this situation is enter into a new tenancy agreement with a tenant that is behind on their rent.

You do need to discuss the situation with the tenant as a matter of urgency.

As an aside, is the house's sentimentality really worth this agrovation?

hereandtherex Wed 04-Nov-15 15:33:20

I can understand people being sentimental about houses. My family have one, which is the old family house, let out.

I doubt the rent situation will 'work itself out' You tend to have problems with HB at the start of the tenancy rather than a year in. Something is dodgy here. Your tenant may have been scamming the HB or some benefit.

Where would someone on HB find 2 months rent from?

I'd give the agent the benefit of the doubt. Your tenant might have contacted them to try and rent another place and they have put 2 and 2 together. The agent is probably being helpful and will talk you through the eviction process - which is long and expense. I should add that most letting agents are as dodgy as fck and should only be trusted as far as you can throw them,

Hopefully there's no mortgage attached to the rental.

Bouncearound Wed 04-Nov-15 15:43:10

Thanks all. There's no mortgage on the house but it is a source of our income so not paying rent has an impact on us nonetheless. It's probably not worth the aggravation tbh but it just wouldn't sell at the moment.
Tenant says the HB had to be changed because her oldest child turned 18 and she had to prove her was still in education. I don't want to go down the eviction route unless I absolutely have to and I'm hoping the HB will be backdated.
I've since phoned the agent and said it was unfair to give me that limited information without any solid grounding and asked them to at least verbally pass on their concerns but they're refusing to as its 'not their place'.
Tenant is not answering her phone (again) despite telling me at 2 to ring back at 2.30!

hereandtherex Wed 04-Nov-15 15:51:02

OK, I know whats happening here.

Tenants kids has left school. Her tax credits have ended and she has no money.

I would start eviction ASAP.

howtorebuild Wed 04-Nov-15 15:56:42

You have given her a chance, she won't communicate adequately, I would start evict her too at this stage.

Bouncearound Wed 04-Nov-15 15:58:33

That's my big fear sad
I don't think she is able to work due to medical reasons but her child is still in education so she might still get HB
However I've managed to speak to HB and they say her claim is still showing as cancelled and she hasn't provided the information required. Nightmare!

Londonista123 Wed 04-Nov-15 15:59:11

OP, I'd suggest you give the tenant a deadline in writing to pay current month's rent + a bit to cover previous months. If she doesn't pay, you need to serve a S21 notice to have her leave. I expect she will not leave unless evicted, so you're going to go through serving S21, 2 months passing, applying to court to evict, further passage of time, her being asked by the court to leave by X date, that date passing, further court application, bailiffs coming round.

It is an almighty pain, and I'm sorry that you have to go through this. Please be firm with her, set out things in writing, and use recorded delivery so you don't have any "I didn't get that letter" nonsense from her. I'd also point out to her that if you need to evict her, the eviction costs (£2000ish) will fall to her.

Londonista123 Wed 04-Nov-15 16:00:04

"+ a bit to cover previous months"... with subsequent extra payments to cover missed rent.

Londonista123 Wed 04-Nov-15 16:01:27

Sorry for the bazillion posts.

I also think the letting agent sounds unscrupulous.

Bouncearound Wed 04-Nov-15 16:12:14

Well I've contacted her to confirm the amount of arrears and asking for payment. I also told her the next step would be starting eviction process.

I'm puzzled but the agent as they are well respected. It's a very small village where everyone knows everyone and what they had for tea but I don't know what they were trying to achieve by telling me.
The house isn't in England, not sure if that makes a difference to the process!

hereandtherex Wed 04-Nov-15 16:15:32

Which country is it in?

hereandtherex Wed 04-Nov-15 16:18:26

Er, you cannot bill the eviction costs to a tenant.

besides, it would be a bit like suing someone with no money i.e. pointless.

SurlyCue Wed 04-Nov-15 16:18:44

Hi. I had a situation two years ago where housing benefit fucked up and stopped paying my HB. This meant i wasnt able to pay my rent. My agent agreed with me that i would pay £50 every two weeks until HB was reinstated and once it was i continued paying £50 a fortnight to pay off the arrears. Is that something you could agree?

hereandtherex Wed 04-Nov-15 16:26:15

The OP cannot agree anything because her tenant is not communicating. Probably deliberately.

SurlyCue Wed 04-Nov-15 16:29:55

Op's last post says she has contacted her.

Londonista123 Wed 04-Nov-15 16:32:25

here - courts can order either party to pay costs under a table of fixed costs. I now also (having had a similar experience to the OP) tend to put wording into my tenancies to the effect that tenants are liable for every cost I incur in evicting them, down to postage stamps.

I understand that the tenant is likely broke and so unable to pay, but the prospect of being on the hook for thousands can lead them to find the money/move on rather than stick around and get evicted - especially if you can say, here, you signed this.

lalalonglegs Wed 04-Nov-15 16:36:02

You can bill the eviction costs to the tenant, it's one of the questions on the court form, it's just very unlikely you will get them...

I've only once let to a tenanti n receipt of HB and the LA stopped paying several months in but it was rectified and arrears were paid. It seems simple enough for this tenant to prove her child is a student so I don't know why she won't cooperate with the council or pick up the phone to you. The evictionp process isn'tt tremendously difficult and there are plenty of companiesw Illingworth to take care of it if you are nervous. Many claim that serving the initial paperwork actually often solves the problem... Good luck.

lighteningirl Wed 04-Nov-15 16:40:38

The letting agents have been quite nice actually you paid them to find a tenant which they did you said you would manage it which you are struggling with they obviously know she can't pay (housing benefit officers and letting agents talk). They could just have left you hanging or you can sort it yourself or you can pay them to sort it. Currently you have a tenant who isn't paying and quite probably doesn't intend to pay you need to decide if you want to let her stay for Free or if you wish to evict her or if you wish the agents to help you evict her (you will have to pay them no one works for Free). We have hb tenants they know full well when their entitlement is going to be reduced or stopped she is playing you (otherwise she'd be in contact) but please don't listen to people slagging off the agents it's not their fault.

specialsubject Wed 04-Nov-15 17:04:04

If you decide to evict, you need to contact your insurers - I really hope you took out legal expenses cover because you are going to need it. Eviction takes 4 months and costs money. You may also want to put a note through the door, reminding the tenant that not paying the rent is seen by the council as making herself intentionally homeless and they won't help her. She may be in a council admin tangle but SHE needs to sort that and not communicating doesn't help.

deposit protected, good. Do NOT start a new tenancy, there are more onerous requirements for eviction for new ones and you'll only prolong the pain.

recorded delivery of section 21 may not be correct as she can refuse receipt. Check on landlordzone, the common method is to send from two post offices with two proofs of posting.

why you rent the place out is not relevant - no need to justify yourself to the jealous bile-spewers on here.

Bouncearound Wed 04-Nov-15 17:25:41

Thanks all. I do have insurance so will look out all the documentation.

I would be happy with a payment plan as I appreciate life isn't always easy.
No reply to my message about serving notice to quit but that's not unexpected. I'm going to try ringing from dh' phone later to see if she picks up.

I've also spoken to the agent and it was a genuine message to help me out. He was made aware of an issue that he knew i would want to know about and felt he should tell me. He was really helpful in telling me the options open and processes I need to follow so I'm confident it was a genuine offer of help! I won't go into details as its really personal but it does explain thr backlog.

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