My Experience With a Tenant from the 'Housing List’
In 20 years of being a landlord, like many of us, I have avoided taking anyone on housing benefit. The main reason being that statistically they come with higher risk of rent default. We all know how difficult it is for landlords to deal with this situation. I became a landlord as a pension investment seeking minimum stress and aggravation so you may be surprised that I have just taken a tenant from the PCC homeless housing scheme, read on to hear what happened
Why the Big Change?
My last two tenants were homeless people but they came from living with friends or family. I have always preferred mature individuals who I believe will look after my property as though it was their own. I have always done extensive background checks and been very choosy. My last vacancy was 4 years ago - I had 11 enquiries after 24 hours on Rightmove, 4 were interviewed and all were very acceptable, so in the end, 1st come 1st served decided who got the keys.
Out of the blue a tenant gave one month notice on April 30th and moved out 3 weeks later. My new homeless and Universal Credit dependent tenant moved in on the 25th. So why the change of heart this time-
- Partly altruistic, I have always felt bad about my policy verging on being discriminatory
- I do not have a mortgage on the property so can afford a higher risk
- When notice was given and decisions needed to be made, the housing sector was in lockdown but Janice from PCC was still frantically trying to find homes for 200 homeless people staying in hotels at our (taxpayers) expense
- Janice could find me a checked-out tenant without any advertising, viewings, credit and reference checking etc.
- I hate having to turn away less desirable tenants in favour of those that pass my inquisition.
- PCC are offering interesting incentives. I get from them, one month rent in advance, one month rent as a deposit and they are topping up the rent from the Local Housing Allowance rate to £10 pcm short of what I was planning to ask. (It does concern me a little that my new tenant does not have to pay this back so a substantial handout at the start of a tenancy. Hopefully after a month my new tenant will be ready and willing to pay rent.)
- Our esteemed treasurer has taken 3 tenants from this scheme and so far, has not had any problems.
- They say that problems with Universal Credit are gradually being ironed out and, in some ways,, it is working better than the old system. It was also increased significantly in April.
- The mature tenant is supported by a dedicated support officer who is helping her adjust. 😊
- Janice twisted my arm for a quick decision 😕 (I got home from saying yes to Janice to see the weekly PDPLA list of potential tenants included 3 people looking for 1 bed flats.😔)
- Janice assures me it will all be fine 😓
- Janice assures me she has nothing to do with PCC housing standards where it could be said I have a poor relationship due to my attempts to defend HMO landlords from persecution. (My property is in Havant where the officers are lovely so the aforementioned have no jurisdiction anyway 😂😉.)
Who are these 200 homeless people being housed in hotels at great expense by the local authority?
Homelessness is growing for many reasons but, as WE all know, primarily due to persecution of the private rented sector by local at and national Government. 😩 The sector is shrinking and those at the bottom of the ladder suffer most. That is bad enough but when Covid 19 hit, the Local Authority was suddenly forced to rehouse all the homeless people in overcrowded hostels and take all they could off the streets. Homeless people's background and history varies considerably from the archival addict with mental health problems to those like my new friend, a victim of bad luck and timing. Previous landlord wanted property back, tenancy not in her name so no rights or track record, no work due to lockdown, agents not interested in someone with no deposit or history, daughter found a new man who does not want to live with 'mother-in-law'. And that is just her most recent tale of woe.)
Even before the crisis, the area of the housing business that was booming was the provision of emergency temporary accommodation.
I am not suggesting taking tenants from the Local Authority housing 'List' suits everyone, I am not even recommending you give it a go. Our inclinations and circumstances vary. Watch this space for further reports. BUT I do think you should at least think about it. Under this arrangement PCC make the introduction, but it is up to the landlord to accept or reject the tenant in the normal way. The introduction is not handled through the PCC 'Rent it Right' agency. It is hoped that, if required, the Housing Benefit top up will be paid for up to 3 years. I understand only the 1st year is currently part of the Government scheme but if it works well the local authority will continue the support.
Should you take in a tenant who has no money and none of the basic necessities there is an excellent charity that can set them up- the Moving On Project Portsmouth (MOPP). The only snag is that they do not supply mops so you should include one in your inventory. PCC will refer suitable tenants to them.If you have surplus serviceable furniture, pots and pans etc they are a deserving cause. They auction off what they cannot store or allocate and use the money for basics not donated.
If you would like to discuss the new Government subsidised housing scheme with Janice her contact details are-
Housing Assessment and Advice Manager
Housing Needs, Advice and Support, Portsmouth City Council
Direct line 02392834126