A landlord from Bracknell, Berkshire, has spoken out about her nightmare ordeal after her housing benefit tenant failed to pass on the payments. This issue has been widely reported and discussed within the buy-to-let industry but now a landlord has come out publicly to talk about it. The non-payments left Mrs Trivedy and her self-employed partner in an extremely difficult financial position. As a result of the welfare reforms and implementation of Universal Credit thousands of ordinary landlords fear that they will see more of this kind of problem. It is expected to affect the whole country and BBC1 are covering the issue on The One Show tonight, Thursday 2nd May at 7pm. They will feature Mrs Trivedy and Landlord Action, the problem tenant specialists, who she went to for help.
After meeting her current partner, Mrs Trivedy decided to sell her four bedroom house in Bracknell from a previous relationship so that they could buy somewhere together. After failing to sell the property quickly enough, she took the decision to let it out, which for three and half years provided the perfect solution. When her previous tenants moved out and an acquaintance from her daughter’s school, with five children of her own, expressed an interest in the property, it seemed like the perfect solution. The prospective tenants explained that they had fallen on tough times but that the £1200 housing benefit they were due to start receiving would cover the rent. They agreed to set up a direct debit straight to Mrs Trivedy’s account.
From the moment the family moved in (December 2011), the payments were not consistent and with the housing benefit being paid in arrears every two weeks, there was already a shortfall of £20 per month which the tenants were supposed to make up. Four months ago, the payments stopped altogether. On communication with the tenants, Mrs Trivedy was told to liaise with the local housing allowance office, to no avail. After attempting to speak to the tenants at the property to discuss the issues and try to work out a payment schedule, the tenants called the police to file a harassment case. Mrs Trivedy has since received abusive text messages from the tenants via her mobile phone. In desperation, Mrs Trivedy called on the help of Landlord Action who have since issued a Section 8 possession notice, the process of which was filmed by The One Show.
Mrs Trivedy says “The tenants are now approximately £4400 in arrears and that sum is mounting all the time. As a result, we are struggling to pay the mortgage on the house. My partner is self-employed so income is irregular and despite taking as much overtime at work as I can, we are living off next to nothing just to get by. What’s more, the house is a complete wreck after the tenants brought dogs into the property which subsequently had puppies. It will cost us thousands to get it back to a liveable state.”
Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action, says “The majority of social tenants do pass on housing benefit, but the cuts made in the welfare reforms are going to put many under increased financial pressure. Our experience in dealing with cases such as this is that most tenants would prefer to have their payments made directly to the landlord so that they can budget more effectively. Not enough has been done to protect landlords. Over the last few years we have seen a rise in these problems and now with the new Universal Tax Credits monthly payments, our concern is that more and more landlords will see problems and many will turn their back on the social sector.”