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.

Reclaim your Council Tax Charges…is this one for Martin Lewis

In a previous post I mentioned that one of the worst things about working in Local Government is the love of the private sector that senior managers have. They believe that a council is a brand and that we have customers. As I will rant until I am old and grey we are not and  do not.

If they are insisting on being viewed upon as private sector brands then maybe they should behave like them when it comes to the charges they apply to debts.

At the local authority I work for if you miss your Council Tax payment and you are summonsed you will be charged around £50.00 for a letter to be sent to you. If it goes to court then further costs are added.

I’m not doubting that there are costs associated with sending a letter but last time I looked at myself and my other admin drones no one was getting paid £50.00 per letter.

With the introduction of the local council tax schemes many people on Employment Support Allowance are having to pay Council Tax for the first time. In my area it is a low amount of around £3.00 per week. Then again when you have £70.70 per week to cover everything I’m sure £3.00 is not trivial. To charge someone £50.00 for failing to pay around £9.00 worth of Council Tax is immoral.

So. Should local authorities be limited on the amount they can charge people for building up Council Tax arrears? After all the banks they are so desperate to emulate with the call centres and “speedy resolution” can no longer charge extortionate fees.

Bunch of Atos ers

One of the worst problems with working in local government is that councilors and heads of service have convinced themselves that councils are no longer drab grey blocks of administration but instead flowery brands that have customers. We do not have customers. Customers have the choice to go elsewhere.

As more council services are “outsourced” to private companies we will see more style over substance. A relation of mine with 35 years of experience as an N.H.S nurse recently got a taste of this when she applied for a job with Atos assessing people for Employment Support Allowance.

She attended an interview in London which she though went well but was advised she had not got through to the next stage. Two weeks later she received a phonecall and was advised that as she had flown through the technical knowledge part of the interview but had fallen short on her knowledge of Atos . Because of this they would like to invite her back for the next stage of interviews. She spent the next two weeks reading up about Atos and their corporate strategy.

The day before her interview she was contacted and advised that there had been a mistake and the person who had phoned her had got their information muddled. As she failed on her knowledge of Atos she would not be invited for a second interview. Had her technical knowledge been flawed however she would have been invited back.

What does it matter what Atos’s corporate strategy is. Their customers cannot go elsewhere if the service is no good.

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.