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Trenners

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Posts posted by Trenners


  1. Hi Malcolm,

    My advice is ....don't give up .......

    Creating a letting agency takes time ..... but it can be achieved ...... I should know ... as, after 10 years of being a landlord, I established my own letting agency (which I have subsequently sold for a very substantial 6 figure sum).

    You need to think very long and very hard "what makes you different from the other letting agents" and "why would a landlord choose you over the competition". You need to have a compelling proposition ..... but most importantly ........ being different makes you unique .... which means you sell on your difference rather than on price.

    Then you need to go where landlords go ....... you need to position yourself as the local expert ....... you need to connect with your future customers ....... I used to write a landlord column for the local newspaper (in the Property Section) ... and I used to blog on some of the Landlord web sites (including this one occasionally) ....... it's about demonstrating to your customer that you are expert at what you do .....

    If you would like to chat to me about my experience (of setting up my own letting agency from scratch) then please reply to this post .... and I will make contact with you .......

    All the best

    Mark


  2. Hi

    My advice is to stop sending emails and organise a council of war meeting with the tenant at your property ASAP.

    It's clear he hasn't got the rent at the moment - which is probably why he is avoiding you.

    You need to agree a repayment plan with him .... explain that if he keeps to the repayment plan then you will take no further action otherwise you will evict.

    You could also ask that the rent be transferred to you directly from his employer out of his wages ... including any additional amount to contribute towards the arrears he owes.

    If he is a reasonable tenant then he will agree to all of the above ... and if he is bad at managing his money then getting the rent paid directly from the employer should mean that he should not fall into arrears again in the future.

    However ... If he doesn't agree to the repayment plan and he doesn't agree to direct payment from his employer .... cur your losses and evict.

    In fact ... It might be worth letting him off the rent arrears in return for the keys of tour properry back.

    Good luck

    Trenners


  3. Hi

    The way I see it is .... you've had good tenants for a number of years ... they are splitting up now .... but they have assured you that they will continue to pay you the rent ......

    They are fully communicating with you .... and they seem decent enough people to me ....

    HOWEVER ..... a single mother with a couple of kids will be fully entitled to Housing Benefit as long as the HUSBAND is removed from the tenancy agreement ..... if his name remains on that agreement ... then the Council are absolved of any responsibility .....

    Given that the tenants have been so open and honest with you ... and given they have been good tenants to date .... I don't see the problem with removing the husbands name from the agreement so that the wife can then claim Housing Benefit (to top up her part time income) and pay you your rent.

    I appreciate the legal argument of "jointly and severally liable" etc etc ... but we are talking about decent tenants who communicate with their landlord ......

    IMO .. the most likely reason for this tenancy to fail in the future is because the landlord failed to help the single mother claim the benefits that she was entitled to.

    In summary ... take the husband off the tenancy!

    Trenners


  4. Hi everyone (and thanks for the name check Melboy),

    The reason why I got into letting property to DSS tenants ... and then helping other landlords let their property to DSS tenants as well .... is to minimise the void periods and thereby maximize my rental income and minimize costs (caused by advertising, tenant vetting, voids etc).

    If a property is void for 6 weeks a year (I think that is the industry average although mine are never empty that long) then the landlord loses 12.5% of their annual rental income whilst the property is empty.

    If you rent out to a DSS tenant ..... or indeed a family who has pets .... or a DSS tenant who has pets ..... AND you can find a reliable one (not always the easiest) THEN .... you can enjoy ZERO voids for years and years and years.

    OK - some of my DSS tenants run off with the rent .... if they do that then I kick them out .....and some of them leave lots of junk in my property BUT as long as the damage caused or the cost of removing the junk IS LESS than the 6 week industry average void that I was expecting anyway ..... I AM MAKING MORE MONEY than the average landlord by renting to my DSS tenants!

    Some of my DSS tenants (together with their pets) have been with me for 7+ years .......... and many of them will be with me for another 7 years to come ..... what's not to like about the DSS and their pets! <grin>

    All the best

    Trenners


  5. Thanks Trenners, though its not what i wanted to hear ,it makes sense, There is no chance of reasoning with the T, as she wont reply to calls texts or visits to the house, I am already in dialougue with the homeless unit, And the lady there said, though they have accepted her as homeless, due to the complaints against her, they are not of a mind to rehouse her,

    This tenant has a drug habit, if i gave her cash to go she would stick it up her nose, and go back on the deal, and she would not go on the promies of money,I think i will take your advice, go to the head of housing, and push it that way.

    Gutted every time i think we may have a way out, there appears to be a obstacle,

    Hi tipster,

    I think that is wise ...... but you still need to protect that deposit as well - do it tomorrow - because the head of housing will not be as sympathetic when he finds out that you have been a rogue landlord and broken the law.

    I'm based in Wiltshire .... if by chance your Council is Swindon or Wiltshire or Gloucestershire ... let me know as I have some excellent relationships in those Councils. Send me a personal email to: mark@mlettings.com if I can help you further ...

    Good Luck (again)

    Mark


  6. Hi

    I think this comes down to a simple question. Was the flat clean when you moved it (I assume YES). Is the flat at the same level of cleanliness now that the tenancy has ended (I assume YES again) .... in which case the flats doesn't need cleaning - irrespective of what dodgy clauses might have been added to the tenancy agreement after you signed it.

    If the landlord tries to make a deduction for cleaning (when the flat is indeed as clean as when you took possession) then you need to reject this claim - in writing - and, if the landlord still refuses to refund all of your deposit, then you need to request that the landlord cleaning claim be sent to arbitration.

    Basically - when you moved it I am assuming your landlord protected your Security Deposit in a Government approved scheme. Did he protect it? If so - he should have told you what scheme he used and you should have a copy of the protection certificate. If he didn't protect the deposit - he broke the law and you are entitled to 3 x the amount of the deposit as compensation. Citizens Advice can advise you more on how to sue your landlord if he has broken the law.

    Assuming he protected the deposit - then you can request that the dispute (over cleaning) between you and the landlord is referred to the Government approved Deposit Protection company's arbitrator. This is totally FREE OF CHARGE. The Landlord has to prove to the arbitrator (beyond doubt) that the property is less clean now than it was when you moved into the property. 99.99% of all landlords I know would not be able to prove this point.

    Also .... over 80% of cases that get referred to the arbitrator .. award in favor of the tenant (because the landlord is not able to prove that their deposit deduction is either valid or fair).

    In summary - confront the landlord. Demand the Deposit Protection Arbitrator is involved ... and collect your deposit back!

    Good Luck


  7. Hi

    LHA - and a request to pay it directly to the landlord - is completed as part of the standard Housing Benefit Form (assuming you are entitled to receive the LHA benefit directly because your tenant is deemed "vulnerable").

    A licence agreement can only be used to establish a tenancy within an HMO if the landlord, himself, is RESIDENT within the property. If the landlord doesn't live at the HMO then an Assured Shorthold Tenancy must be used.

    If you use a licence and you don't live at the property (which I assume you don't) ..... and you end up in Court for illegal eviction ... the Court will almost certainly rule that the licence was, in fact, an AST. In other words - if it looks like an AST, if it smells like an AST, It is an AST .. even if it says LICENCE at the top of the page!

    There is also something known as an LHA "Sharing of Information" form that the tenant completes to give the landlord permission to discuss the tenants HB claim with local benefit officers ... is this the form that you are asking about?

    I don't get the connection between claiming LHA and sharing information with the Police!

    Hope the above helps.


  8. Hi Tipster,

    The way to resolve this is not, in my opinion, through Section 21 or Section 8.

    Section 21 can't be used anyway (because you failed to protect the deposit as previously discussed. More on this in a moment.

    Section 8 is an absolute minefield and I would strongly recommend you do not follow this route. Why? Well S8 involves going before a judge, in a court of law, where the astute tenant (who clearly knows her rights) will plead that you are the evil landlord (who has been horrible to her and hasn't protected her deposit and she is vulnerable etc etc) and she is the victim .... and there is every chance that the judge will award AGAINST you ... meaning that you will go through the entire process and not get what you want (an eviction order).

    So ... what do I recommend. Three options as far as I can see.

    1) PAY HER TO LEAVE. Offer to write off ALL the rent arrears, refund ALL of her deposit, pay ALL of her removal expenses. This might cost you a few hundred pounds + DEPOSIT .... but this would be the cheapest option.

    2) CALL A COUNCIL OF WAR WITH THE HOUSING DEPARTMENT AT THE LOCAL COUNCIL. Ultimately the Council have a duty of care towards this tenant (because however bad a tenant is .. the Council have a duty to provide accommodation for the tenant and her children). Get a meeting with the Head of the Homelessness Department to discuss your predicament.

    If you are having difficult getting the meeting - contact the Councillor responsible for Social Housing and tell him you are having a huge problem with your DSS tenant and - if he doesn't get involved (and arrange the meeting) - then you are going to the MEDIA to warn other landlords how the Council put problem tenants into local landlords properties and then don't help when things turn sour.

    You must get this meeting ...... it is really important that the Council help you to re-house her.

    3) PROTECT THE DEPOSIT. You have broken the law. That is a fact. You must protect the deposit, pay the fine if need be, and get this whole episode (from your perspective) onto a proper legal footing. By protecting the deposit and paying the fine ... you are demonstrating that you are doing everything you can to conduct yourself in a legal manner.

    In summary - If the tenant will talk to you ... PAY HER TO LEAVE. If she won't talk to you ... you MUST involve the Council at the highest level, involve the local media (newspaper .... and go on local radio on the morning chat show to warn other landlords about the Council) .... and PROTECT THE DEPOSIT ... because your failure to follow the rules is not going to disappear ... and it is very likely that if you don't get the deposit protected you may NEVER get a possession order!

    Good Luck ... you are going to need it!


  9. Hi waspie,

    I am much more sympathetic to your plight than, perhaps, some others on the forum. I totally agree that a Housing Association should demonstrate a clear duty of care to their tenants - not least because they are providing housing accommodation to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

    I know that legislation does not demand periodic inspections ...... but that doesn't mean you should endanger the lives of your tenants (by not ensuring the accommodation provided is both safe and fit for human habitation).

    I am an accredited landlord with my local Council - and have been for many years - and all of my properties have periodic inspections every 5 years and are inspected by Environmental Health.

    I am not a great fan of LEGAL action (as the only people that usually benefit are the prosecution and defence lawyers) .. but I do think you need to do something to put pressure on the HA .... so here is what I would do :-

    1) Demand a meeting with the Director of the Housing Association so that they can explain themselves to you.

    2) Make a huge media issue of this very newsworthy - local interest - story. Get the local newshound to write a piece entitled "THE HOUSING ASSOCIATION NEARLY KILLED MY DAUGHTER" .... get a picture ... get the local radio involved ... get the council involved. Involve your local MP.

    3) Demand a meeting with the local Council Member who is responsible for Social Housing and also the Director of Social Housing within the Council. The Council Member may not ultimately attend the meeting (too busy etc etc) .. but he will get you access to the head man at the Council. Involve Environmental Health as well. Invite the Housing Association to the meeting as well.

    At the meeting you want an explanation on why the Housing Association (utilised by the Council) endangered the life f your daughter .... and you want to understand what safeguards have been put in place to stop this from ever happening again.

    Hope some of those ideas help ...... I have no time for dodgy landlords that endanger their tenants lives ... and even less time for badly run Housing Associations who take advantage of vulnerable people .....


  10. Hi Stressed John,

    If it looks like a deposit, if it smells like a deposit ..... then it is a DEPOSIT irrespective of what the paperwork might say ... or what your "dodgy landlord" might say ...... The best way to get action from a landlord ... is to hit him where it hurts ... "IN THE WALLET" ......

    If it was me ... I would refuse to move out of the property ... or remove my possessions .. or return the keys ... until he refunds MY DEPOSIT .... If he won't refund my deposit ... I will stay at the property until I have exhausted the rent payment (ie: used up all the deposit as rent) ...... I would even take this course of action if I had to move somewhere else .... in other words DON'T RETURN THE KEYS UNTIL YOU GET YOUR MONEY.

    This threat - which you should be prepared to carry out - would mean that the landlord could not re-let the property and would have no options open to him ..... so the property is going to be occupied (by you and your possessions) but earning no rent!

    To try and remove you - the landlord would have to apply to the court to gain an eviction order against you ... but he wouldn't be able to apply to the courts because he did not protect your deposit (and he has to provide a copy of the deposit protection certificate as part of this application process).

    If he threatens you with "sending the boys around" .... that is harassment - call the police and report him to the local Council who will prosecute .... if he enters the property or changes the locks or removes your possessions .... that is illegal eviction and the Council will prosecute him for this as well!

    Call the Police if any of this happens - because whilst you have the keys and your possessions are in the property .... it is your HOME and you have lots of legal rights.

    My point ..... the WORST thing you can do is peacefully walk away from this tenancy and return the keys to the landlord. Once he has got your keys - you can kiss goodbye to your deposit. Legal action is a route you could follow ... but to be honest ...... involving lawyers only ever benefits lawyers (first and foremost) ... and rarely fixes the underlying problem ...... or gets your money back.

    I am sympathetic to your plight and I will do anything I can to help you run this "dodgy landlord" out of town.

    Good Luck.


  11. I often fit new bathrooms at my rental properties whilst the tenant is in situ .... and the solution is really easy!

    You find out when the tenant is going on holiday for a week ... and you arrange for the bathroom to be replaced whilst they are away on holiday by using a reliable builder / plumber that you trust and know will get the job finished to a high standard within the allotted time period (ie: 1 week).

    Hope that helps

    Trenners


  12. Hi axil23,

    If the tenant has given you a DEPOSIT and you have not protected it (in a Government approved scheme) then you have broken the law. I assume you have not protected it? If the tenant takes you to court and proves that he gave you a deposit and you did not protect it ... the judge will award THREE TIMES the deposit as compensation to the tenant ... meaning you will be forced to pay the tenant £750.

    This really really really is not worth fighting ..... I urge you to give the tenant his £250 back before this turns into a horrible, legal, can of worms ........ which you will probably lose. I don't condone the tenants action ... but it's not worth the risk.

    Mark


  13. Hi Axil23,

    Give him his deposit back .... and move on ... life is to short arguing with time wasting tenants over £250.

    It's not worth the stress, it's not worth the hassle, it's not worth your time.

    Instead, focus on finding another tenant asap that will appreciate your lovely property and appreciate you as a landlord.

    Good Luck


  14. Hi,

    YES - it is really really easy to get the dates wrong .... and it is even easier to get the dates wrong if you have a statutory periodic tenancy with a Housing Benefit tenant in situ!

    Once the initial 6 month term comes to an end .... you create a SPT ...... and the tenancy is determined by the frequency that the rent is paid .... as defined in the tenancy agreement ... and this frequency of payment is used to calculate the dates for the Section 21 notice.

    To explain ... most tenancies are 6 months in length and rent is paid monthly ... so when you create an SPT you create it on a month by month basis from the end of the 6 month term ....... so initial tenancy started on 1st Jan ... 6 months ends on 30th June .... SPT commences on a MONTH by month basis from 1st July ..... you need to give 2 months notice from 1st July..... so s21 expires AFTER ...... 31st August ....

    BUT BUT BUT BUT this is really important .... if the tenancy states that rent is paid weekly, or 2 weekly or 4 weekly (which is often the case with DSS tenants because that is how their benefit is paid) .... then the calculation of the end date for Section 21 purposes is DIFFERENT because the SPT would have been created on a weekly, 2 weekly or 4 weekly basis and not a MONTH basis.

    In the case of weekly, 2 weekly and 4 weekly tenancies ... you need to give a minimum of 2 months notice and the date for expiration MUST BE the last day of a weekly, 2 weekly or 4 weekly period ... otherwise the dates will be wrong .... So you need to give 2 months notice PLUS the number of days required to bring the weekly, 2 weekly or 4 weekly period to an end ...

    Hope that helps ..........

    Mark


  15. Hi String Vest,

    Well .... the letting agents (LA) are a "soft target" to blame .... but is it there fault ?

    The LA claims that the tenant didn't have a dog ... this is a common problem ... because THE TENANT hides the dog when the LA comes to do an inspection ... and the LA cannot come around and do an inspection unannounced.

    However .. it is no excuse for the LA to return the entire deposit to the tenant's as it is clear, by your description, that the property has been damaged and the LA has been negligent (in not deducting the damage from the deposit before returning any balance to the tenant).

    Also ... the LA will not be earning a fee from the property NOW, I assume, as when it is empty and untenanted no rent is paid and no fee commission is earned. SO ... unless your friends are paying them to manage the property in-between tenancies .... no-one is currently managing or looking after this property.

    The place has remained empty since March ..... nearly 6 months ... in a hugely bouyant rental market ... would indicate that the property is either over-priced, poorly presented ... or not being marketed at all ... or all three!

    What would I do ... I would demand a meeting with the director of the LA and point out that the property has been damaged and the LA should have noticed this as part of their exit inspection ... and I would seek compensation from them (as it is their fault that they returned the deposit in full).

    I would "spruce the property up" ... so that it is suitable for letting .. and appoint a different LA to re-market the property asap.

    Good luck ....

    Mark


  16. I totally disagree with Richlist!

    Although the cheapest B2L mortgage might well be 3.85% (source Mail on Sunday etc) .... it depends on deposit available, individual financial circumstances etc etc etc ... and for the purposes of answering the question ... a plan for a 4.5% interest rate is not unreasonable.

    The adjustment of income tax against the mortgage interest is irrelevant. By example, if rental income is £6000 per annum and expenses (mortgage interest, maintenance, fees etc) is £3000 per annum then my PROFIT is £3000. This profit is subject to 20% or 40% tax .... not the mortgage interest relief which is simply deducted from the profit.

    Cash is a good position to be in at the moment ... unless you like riding roller coasters at the London Stock Exchange.

    Like all investments, buy cheap ... sell high. Of course you can still make a profit from new B2L ... you just need to choose your investments wisely, make sure the yield covers the mortgage expenses / maintenance costs and then wait 15+ years to sell the property and reap your capital growth.

    Mark


  17. Hi PIN,

    Some comments .....

    1) The COUNCIL do not assess Housing Benefit claims .... the DHSS / DWP perform this assessment and pay benefit entitlement to the tenant. It is the TENANTs benefit ....... he tells the DHSS where he is living.

    2) A tenant can only physically live in one property. ie: ONE TENANT = ONE HOUSING BENEFIT CLAIM.

    3) The tenant has told the DHSS / DWP that he doesn't live at your property anymore ... and that he moved out in December 2010.

    4) So .... the DHSS / DWP have stopped paying you ... and have diverted all of the tenant's benefit to the new landlord as of December 2010 ...... and are now claiming the over payment back from you ....... that is not unreasonable IF IT WERE TRUE! (Which it seems it is not).

    Some thoughts ......

    1)First - and foremost - get your property back. Serve the correct Section 21 / Section 8 notices ... get the tenant out ... or get the possession order then get the tenant out ...

    2) Also .... you need to appeal this. You need to contact the finance department at the local Council (who deal with HB overpayment recovery) and get the officer to come and visit the property (where they can see that the tenants possessions are still in place).

    3)Don't hold your breath! The tenant has stated that he didn't live at your house after December 2010 and that he was living somewhere else (so another landlord is being paid rent from December 2010 onwards). The HB department will not pay two landlords for the same tenant ... no matter how hard you plead ......

    Which means .... Your only real course of action - eventually - is to sue the tenant ... but that is pointless because he is on DHSS benefit .. and has no money .......

    My advice ... get your property back .....

    Mark


  18. Hi Newbie,

    If you use your savings (all £200K) to purchase a property then you will NOT need a buy to let (B2L) mortgage. B2L mortgages typically cost from 4.5% upwards (depending on what upfront fees you pay ... and how much deposit you put down on the purchase). So ... by using your savings to fund the B2L purchase you are, effectively, getting 4.5%+ return on your money. That is a good return (compared to the best building society rates at the moment).

    However .. you are also putting "all your eggs in one basket/property" and you have a "binary letting business" in the fact that your SINGLE property is either let or empty. When it is empty you earn nothing.

    Perhaps a better strategy would be to purchase TWO flats (at £200K each) and put a deposit of £100K down on each of them and borrow via B2L mortgage the remaining £200K.

    You will be 50% geared ....... but have a portfolio of 2 properties worth £400K in total. You would be unlucky if both flats were empty at the same time ... and the rental income from 1 property should cover the mortgages for both properties .....

    You will have 2 properties that can go up (or down) as house prices change .......

    Hope this helps ....

    Mark


  19. Lots of good advice already ..... so I will keep my comments brief.

    Never buy flats ..... far too many investors are chasing far too few tenants in this sector ... and have had their figures burnt with long void periods, negative equity and high maintenance charges.

    2 bedroom houses with equal sized bedrooms (if possible) is the best opt in IMO.

    Being a landlord is a long term - 10 to 15 year- investment. If each property is creating an annual profit of about £1000 and you expect property prices to double in the next 15 years then you will achieve an income of £15,000 and capital growth of £125,000 on each of the 2 bed properties. Sounds good to me.

    Good luck,

    Mark


  20. Hi,

    Well - my parents always told me that "things that are free are of NO VALUE" - and the Deposit Protection Service is free to landlords and we should all be very wary of that. The moment you give the deposit to someone else to hold (as per the rules of the custodial deposit scheme) ....... you lose control ....

    My point is that you should have become a member of the National Landlords Association and kept the deposit in YOUR OWN bank account, and protected it by PURCHASING an deposit protection certificate from Tenancy Deposit Solutions (http://www.mydeposits.co.uk) - run by the National Landlords Association.

    Why? Well - if the money is in your bank account then you are in control ... not some "Call Centre" operative who is following rules, processes and guidelines as defined by the DPS.

    I know purchasing a certificate would have cost a little money (under £30 from memory) ..... but you would not have all this hassle (and cost) now had you chosen to use the "paid for" service rather than the "free" service.

    Mark


  21. Hi,

    A couple - or single parent family - WITH ONE CHILD would be the most likely people to rent your property. How many 13year old do you know who would be happy sharing a second bedroom with their 7 year old sibling? Also - you don't say - are the children the same sex or different sexes? If they are different sex then my point is even more important!!

    First rule of landlording - always meet your prospective tenants and be prepared to ask them searching questions like :

    Why do you want to rent my house? Why do you want to live in this area? Why must the children share bedrooms - wouldn't a 3 bedroom place be more appropriate etc etc ...

    Good luck ....

    Mark

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