My 5 favourite landlord mistakes.

1) “The Council has stopped paying my rent”.

The council never were paying your rent . They were paying your tenant a contribution towards their housing costs based on their personal circumstances. Before you start whinging that “the housing benefit is for rent” it isn’t.

Let’s keep this simple

1) Any mortgage is between you and your mortgage company

2) your rental agreement is between you and your tenant.

3) any claim for housing benefit (L.H.A) is between your tenant and the local council. If they become more than 8 weeks in arrears or are classed as vulnerable you may have it paid directly to you. It however is never “your rent money”.

2) “It’s my property!”

Not whilst there’s a tenancy agreement in place . As long as that’s in place it’s your tenants property. Even if your tenants are not paying their rent.

3) “The property must be returned in the condition it was let”.

Minus fair wear and tear . If you think that waffer thin carpet you  put down with no underlay is going to be in the same condition after a family has been walking over it for 6 months then think again.

4) “If it’s in the tenancy agreement it must be legally enforceable”.

I have dealt with a landlord who has a term in his tenancy agreements that states

“If you miss a rent payment I have the right to enter the property and remove you and your possessions using physical force”.

Are we suggesting that that is legal as it is in a tenancy agreement given to a vulnerable person? It quite clearly isn’t .

5) “If you wish to remain in the property you must sign a new tenancy agreement”.

Usually this statement comes from letting agents who want to charge both the tenant and the landlord a fee for preparing a new agreement. If the tenant wishes they may simply allow the agreement to roll onto a monthly agreement. If the landlord does not like this then they can start the eviction process. However the tenant never “has to” sign a new agreement to stay in the property.

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Will Universal Credit lead to the improvement of rental properties.

In 2008 the Labour government gave private landlords a gift that would allow them to stop maintaining their properties are have a guaranteed income based not on the quality of their properties but the size.

In the local authority where I worked prior to Local Housing Allowance there was a wide variation of rents. The good properties went for good amounts and the dross was a good 20 to 30% cheaper. Slum landlords got the absolute minimum.

However with the arrival of Local Housing Allowance meant that slum landlords could increase their rents in line with the figures provided. In my authority a 2 bedrom flat would guarantee the landlord an income of £650.00 per month regardless of its quality.

If their tenants complained then the landlord would simply issue them with a 2 months notice to quit safe int the knowledge that there was no shortfall of desperate tenants who would move in no matter the quality of the accommodation.

The quality of private rental accommodation in the area I live is shocking and has declined sharply following the introduction of Local housing Allowance as the need to maintain properties for vulnerable tenants has all but disappeared.

I have been reading through landlords comments on message boards and twitter and it is clear that some are terrified of the implications of Universal Credit. What makes their comments interesting is that their fears are much the same as their tenants. The fear of the unknown. With Local Housing Allowance you know what you can charge in rent however with Universal Credit the Housing element is unknown in many areas.

For any landlords worried about the effect of their tenants being paid directly they would do well to make sure that their properties are of a high standard. I know of a slum landlord who had let his properties become completely run down and had the management of them taken over by the local council (after they had issued him with a hefty fine).

They appointed a managing agent to look after the properties on the agreement that his many tenants Local Housing Allowance was paid to the agent and no money was to be transferred to the landlord until all maintenance issues were sorted. The effect of this change 24 months on is that for these manged properties there are NO RENT ARREARS and the Victorian properties he has converted to H.M.O’s are now looking absolutely beautiful.

The landlord is still receiving a 5 figure payment each month for housing vulnerable tenants. The profit will always be there for providing homes that local authorities can no longer offer. In my opinion however it will be the landlords who manage and maintain their properties well who will profit the most under Universal Credit.

So will Universal Credit lead to an improvement in private rental accommodation? I would argue that by placing power in the hands of the customers then the answer is yes.

Hello world…time for me to pull my finger out.

Hello world…as all wordpress blogs must start.

I am a father of four, benefits officer and private landlord. By 2017 I face the very real prospect of being out of work and receiving no financial aid from the state.

In 2006 I bought a flat for my wife and my stepson to live in. One child became 2 which became three and then 4 very quickly. The flat dropped into negative equity which led to me becoming a private landlord and renting a house to live in.

I have spent the last 4 years sending every spare penny I have into the flat and am delighted to be out of negative equity. However under the Universal Credit rules I will not qualify for any state assistance as I now have capital of over £16000,00. This is fair enough but it is frightening. No more child benefit (£240.00 per month) no more tax credits (£780.00 every four weeks) and no more Housing Benefit (£400.00 per month). That’s a cool £1485.00 per month gone if I still have a job. When my job eventually goes I will receive a redundancy payment but no Universal Credit.

Most blogs from people effected by welfare reform who start blogs spend a lot of time criticizing the world around them but spend little time looking at themselves. My situation has been caused by bad financial decisions.  I’m not going to moan. Life and the state have been good to me. I will get out of this but it will be hard.

A few stats as of 19/06/13

Mortgage £101,000.00 outstanding. Flat is currently empty.

Credit Cards  £1200.00

Overdraft – £2700.00

I am at a crossroad. Do I give up and sell the flat or do I work hard, take a few chances and try to come out of this better educated, healthier and richer. I won’t be happier. My life as it is now is perfect.