Common Misconception: Rent Is Guaranteed With DSS Tenants

I’ve heard a lot of people claiming that rent is guaranteed when Housing Benefit (HB) pay rent directly to the landlord on behalf of DSS tenants. It was actually the other day that someone on my blog made that statement, and it’s definitely a popular claim I’ve heard many times. For the record, the lady that made the comment was nice, and this is definitely not a personal attack on her.

From my experience, it’s usually tenants on Housing Benefit (HB) that make the claim to either a) sway landlords into thinking DSS tenants do have their perks b) don’t have enough experience with HB allowance to know any better. Either way, the assumption is completely inaccurate.

I agree, taking on DSS tenants do have their perks, however, saying that “rent is guaranteed” is total bullshit, so people really need to stop thinking/saying it is.

Rent is NEVER guaranteed, and most landlords that have respectable experience with DSS tenants will know that.

Initially, I also thought that it was guaranteed rent. I was one of those suckers. But after a little ‘real-life’ experience, I quickly discovered the realities of receiving payment from the Council and how it’s far from ‘guaranteed rent’

This blog post isn’t an intended witch hunt for those receiving HB, this blog post is just a reality check for the unknowing.

The short fall

Firstly, most DSS tenants have a shortfall to cover each month, which the tenant is expected to cover on time every month. That shortfall is NOT guaranteed. I’ve had a tenant in the past that had to pay £100 each month to cover her shortfall. It was often late, and frequently required constant chasing. She wasn’t a bad tenant, so eventually always coughed up the doe. But I know of landlords that weren’t even fortunate enough to receive the shortfall at all. The tenants just didn’t care about paying.

Yes, the majority of the rent is paid by Housing Benefit, but I don’t expect to let my house out at a 10% discount each month, otherwise I would have marketed the property with a lower monthly rate.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a perk to have the majority of rent paid by the council, but it’s definitely not entirely “guaranteed”, which is my point.

Landlords are at the mercy of the council

Secondly, and most importantly, the council have the ability to seize/alter anyone’s benefits at the snap of a finger, and there’s nothing a landlord can do about it.

One day your tenant might be entitled to £700 per month, the next day their circumstances may change and they’ll be entitled to £500 per month, consequently the tenant will have a larger shortfall to cover. This of course brings me back to my first point- there’s no guarantee the tenant will cover that shortfall on time every month.

And then, naturally, the tenant will say, “there’s been some kind of mistake. Give me a few weeks, I will sort it out with the council”. Soon enough, weeks has passed, and nothing has changed, and your tenant has now fallen into arrears.

The council won’t move quickly to resolve anything (believe me) and they sure as hell won’t talk to the Landlord to explain what is going on, because the personal finances of the tenant has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Landlord. Apparently the data protection act means the landlord isn’t entitled to a single piece of useful information.

I’ve even seen cases where tenants were claiming HB fraudulently and as a result their allowance was completely terminated. Where does the landlord stand then?

So no, regardless of whatever agreement/setup you have with your DSS tenant and the Housing Benefits Department, rent is NEVER guaranteed, and you’d be a fool to think otherwise.

Right, that’s my little rant over. Love and peace all, love and peace!!

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23 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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SN 29th December, 2009 @ 23:39

Landlord, great article. All true! SN

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sheldon 30th December, 2009 @ 04:30


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Phil 30th December, 2009 @ 10:43

So true....I had tenants on HB and as I wanted the house back I gave them the required 2 months notice. On the last month they didnt pay the rent and disappeared as they knew the deposit was unlikely to be returned due to the trashed state of the house. The local HB office didnt want to know and said it was down to the tenants to make the payment!! I have to say lesson learnt......

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Fiona 3rd January, 2010 @ 11:09

How true this is. I started out with a flexible attitude but now I will not rent to HB tenants unless there are exceptional circumstances like a proper disability and they look like long-term tenants. Retired people are great as their circumstances don't change. To have HB as a high percentage of any portfolio could be disastrous - I would say more risky than if they were working tenants. I was recently galled to have to pay back benefit to the council for a tenant who buggered off owing me money!

Another problem I have found is that HB tenants pay the rent and deposit up front but then say they can't pay you until the end of Month 2 as that is what the council pay them. This is nonsense (they are paid at the end of 4 weeks which should be your Month 2 rent) and I do not allow it. If they abandon the property you do not have the 1-month cushion. People have even had the audacity to say to me that they need the money for stuff as they have just moved house! When tenants have this attitude that everyone else should provide for them do you really want them in your property? They will be looking for ways to rip you off, and they will succeed, believe me. Trying to trace people who leave no forwarding address is a nightmare and even if you do find them, getting money out of people who have none, and feel no obligation to go out and earn some, is a waste of time.

The other problem with HB tenants is that they are at home all day messing up your property! Think about it. Working people spend less time there so do less damage. They don't have every other single parent round all the time/scrounging layout boyfriend/unnecessary dogs and cats/in general extra pairs of feet and fingers increasing your wear and tear.

I'm sorry to say some of these things as I know there are some genuine people on HB at certain times in their lives but I'm only speaking from personal experience. In any business you have to make a judgement and sometimes this is based upon generalisations but it's necessary to protect yourself.

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Sam 4th January, 2010 @ 22:53

The other thing which has happened to us - HB tenants moved out - told council and not us. Payments to us stopped and I could not get the rent! Luckily had the deposit - but as you know the DPS make you jump through hoops for that!

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Someone 25th January, 2010 @ 19:12

Hi for a start I'd like to give kudos to whoever set up this site, very useful info on here.

Now back to this topic, I don't think landlords should dismiss DSS clients as much instead find out their circumstances i.e. someone who is long term sick/disabled is far more likely to keep up with rent than the usual work-able person on jobseekers (or scum to some people) who have to sign on every few weeks to get their benefits.

I think the lesson that needs learning is that you as a landlord should find out as much about the could be tenant as possible regardless of whether they're working or not. Simply dismissing any DSS client is lunacy.

Now my answer to the question "is rent guaranteed on DSS?", no of course it isn't but that doesn't mean it couldn't be as stable if not more than someone whose working if the circumstances are right.

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Sam 25th January, 2010 @ 20:25

Yes that is correct. At least with the DPS when the tenant is 8 weeks in arrears then you do get it paid to you

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kayla 2nd February, 2010 @ 01:53

I am on dss and the rent comes to the landlord every first of the month and they pay the total rent no under table stuff. It is guarenteed your best bet is to get a reference from a past landlord from a potential tenant. I live in Westchester ny and the system here is legit.

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Annoyed 11th April, 2010 @ 12:55

Reading the comments of some landlords, it made my blood boil.
After working all my life i have become a tenant on DSS from no fault of my own, but through ill health. Find most landlords treat people on benifit as low life, when they themselves often let out substand properties, charge the earth, then conplain when they do not get the full rent, after all DSS benifits come from the public purse, it is them who are ripping off the state, they are only in it for a fast buck, and wouldn't live themselves in some of their properties, but expect us to, stop moaning landlords, we keep you in business, If there was more council houses, we wouldn't need you!!!

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Twattybollocks 12th April, 2010 @ 10:04

Yada yada yada............. heard it all before.


The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 12th April, 2010 @ 10:52

Annoyed: It's the landlord's right to charge as much/little as he wants for his property. No one is forced to rent the property.

Of course we're going to complain when the rent isn't paid in full. If you can't afford the rent, then don't rent a property at that rate.

It's like someone buying a Ferrari, and then complaining they can't pay the finance.

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whatever! 1st July, 2010 @ 12:08

I am appalled at the comment above from Annoyed. You have obviously missed the point that honest hard working landlords on here were trying to make - It is not all DSS just a few bad eggs which happen in so many different cases and they are advising others to beware!!! To then say that landlords are taking from the public is a narrow minded and bitter statement to make. You are obviously very raw about your situation and probably never expected to be on benefits yourself but without people renting out their own properties to other people there would be a lot of homeless poeple out there!!!!!! You will be surprised at how little landlords make in this current economic climate - i dropped the rent to accommodate DSS tenant and am now 2 months short on rent and she has been on holiday to Lanzarote and oh did I forget to say - a new car!!!!!!! Eviction notice will not have to be sent and I for one (single mother of 3) have learnt from my mistakes and will not touch DSS again as DSS is paid directly to the tenant for them to pass to the landlord in many respects. Landlords have no chance!!

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Phil 2nd July, 2010 @ 06:03

As a landlord with a bad experience with a DSS tenant and the HB system. Im sure I read somewhere that if it is found that HB has been overpaid to a tenant and passed onto the landlord then the landlord is responsible for paying this back!! Its funny how they are quick to get involved when they are owed money and ignore the landlord when the tenant has chosen to spend the rent money on a new flat screen!!

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Timea 16th July, 2010 @ 11:37

I understand that Landlords are not to keen on taking DSS clients due to extra paperwork and sadly to bad reputation.

However not everybody is the same. I am a teacher for instance and also a single mum. Sadly my income alone would not be enough to go private and therefore I need help from the council. Now I am struggling to find a place for ourselves as the majority of agencies just simply say no to DSS or LHA clients. I have brilliant references and have regular income yet no place to go... It is really sad and dissapointing. What is the solution???Please dear Landlords consider that not all DSS clients are the same. The majority of us decent people with good reputation looking for a home to live...Regards, T. (London)

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Fiona 16th July, 2010 @ 20:49

Well, Timea, if you came to me I would take you because you are working but on a low wage, although I would insist on a guarantor, which I hope you agree is reasonable. It is ridiculous to have a blanket ban on DSS without looking at peoples' circumstances. However, it is a buyer's market and if landlords have the choice of taking non-DSS people then they normally will, because on balance they get paid more reliably. The situation is getting worse as well because landlords know that local housing allowance will decrease next year which means chasing bigger top-ups, so I hope you get somewhere sorted for yourself soon.

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mark 28th July, 2010 @ 23:10

i have a tenant and all he has to pay is £63 p/m he hasnt payed for 2 month now wont answer phone/letters we use letting agent who are garbage "all they say is well we tried to ring him and sent letters" but they didnt even have the sence to get a phone number from the guarantor,he did pay a bond which will cover what he hasnt payed for the rest of the 4 months but if he recks the house before he goes then the bond will get swollowed up doing repairs leaving nothing for missed rent
i was going to go see him or post a letter from me giving him a bit of harsh word does anyone think this is wise? any ideas im lost with what to do.

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clever 5th December, 2010 @ 19:05

whatever - i dropped the rent to accommodate DSS tenant and am now 2 months short on rent and she has been on holiday to Lanzarote and oh did I forget to say - a new car!!!!!!!

you dropped the rent? idiot

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disabled 29th September, 2011 @ 15:38

hi every one .
i understand the frustration of the landlords , when they dont get a good deal from tennents, who have no regard for the landlords who rent to people on hb.
but as some have said , i am 40 and had two strokes , a teacher hve 3 children, and my landlord wants his house back november , so we are to be homeless in eastbourne for xmass.
i have one months rent , one months deposit , admin fees , holding fees. and have a guaratour.
but no-one will help our situation.
and will not offer us a home , because of what some tennets do.
please remember we are not all from the same mould.
i had worked for 30 years paying my taxs and ni , for what .
but some of us are worth the chance

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Melly 8th January, 2014 @ 16:58

Well well well thankfully someone wrote that not all housing benefit tenants are not the same, and so much as it is a shame you have had bad experiences people cant be tared with the same brush. You are very small minded if you do that. Right I'm on housing benefits due to long term illness, and because of this my payment IS guaranteed to go straight to the landlord or agent. Its my choice but if I give my words that it will be paid directly it will be. I am housebound BTW and that's the reason it is guaranteed. CHECK YOUR FACTS AUTHOR!!!!! Secondly I have just recently left a flat that I rented for 2 1/2 years. The landlord has decided to sell up. EVERY PAYMENT was on time. No damage happened at all. The place was left so filthy (which I could not have foreseen, I saw the place 3 weeks before I rented it/moved in) and trashed that I was paid £90.00 by the agent to clear it up and clean it, his offer not my suggestion. Little by little the cracks of the place began to show, in short, there was damp, there was a leak into my son bedroom everytime it rained becauae, as we eventually found out, the roof had so many botch jobs and quick fix jobs it was found to be made of 19 different peices of material. It took 2 and 1/4 years for the landlord to agree to fix it, along with damp comes cockroches of which, eventually there were loads, all over the place. We found out the flat and the shop below had a history of these nasty creatures. Sash windows fell out, complete sets of tiles fell down near the tiolet, I could go on forever. There are so many complaints against landlords and agents and this is why. I had items I had to throw away because of the disgusting mismanagement of this flat. I left the place in a far better state than I reckon it had seen in a decade. The agent and landlord, now 2 months later, have still not returned the deposit. The agent has made up a whole list of what he has claimed for and none are valid at all. I have witness all over about this including people who viewed the flat to buy it, plus friends and family AND the council who inspected the place too. The council overpaid the agent by one month and he has refused to pay that back too. And you think housing benefit people are bad? Its almost laughable if it wasnt so sick (old fashioned sense).

I now have a place which ALSO has damp but this time due to no flue in the old covered fireplaces. The toilet had a crack in the bottom of the system patched with thin putty and blue tac, that gave after less than 2 week and as you can imagine water went straight through to the kitchen and all lights blue, the bathroom floor is slats and youcan see the kitchen light when it is on though thr floor, water goes through here too, this was reported 7 weeks ago and still yet to be dealt with, many things like this ALL of which were known about by landlord and agent BEFORE it was let out. There are other things too.
By the way I had to pay 2 months up from (excl pre-paid months rent) because of low income (which I THINK I have just found out is not legal??) instead of their usual 6 weeks.

I paid upfront. I pay on time NOW (with exception 1st month as agent said he had set up my standing order but in fact had not bothered at all). The agent/landlord have not stood by their agreement of renting a place ready to live in.

I am the Sterling Moss amongst us ~ do you want me to spell the rest??!!!

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ATenant 20th January, 2014 @ 23:18

Not everyone on HB is awful. I have a bloody good job but I am on Maternity leave. My partner works full time but we qualify for "top up" benefit to be paid direct to the landlord.
Our landlord is the worst ever and is evicting a pregnant woman 10 days before I am being induced... why?? Because she didn't want to maintain the property. She was served an improvement notice by environmental health and she thought by serving a section 21 she didnt have to do the repairs, which she does.

Unfortunately we cannot afford to move without help from the local council. And yes they have told us we CAN stay past the date on the section 21 and do not have to leave until we have a bailiff date. BUT... I also sought independent legal advice (not CAB) who advised the same thing.

The point I am trying to make is that not everyone on HB is the same. But as usual, the actions of a few bad eggs have given everyone on benefits a bad name. Landlords are not squeaky clean either!!!

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Kyrah 4th February, 2014 @ 12:23

I am a mother of two on hb for the first time ever and after being made redundant I have been forced to move out of my old rented property and move to this current property and live on hb (hopefully not for too long). I wish I had some of the landlords on here as I set up a direct debit with my landlord straight away as I did not want my landlord to treat me differently and think less of me.

Well what a huge mistake. This house was obviously intended for the type of tenants you are all trying to get away from. The property is absolutly filthy and it took for me to actually live here to see just how discusting the property is. There are dirty old clothes shooved down the radiators under the cupboards r rotting with damp and mould. The wiring is faulty as I realised when I left my sons lamp on and smelt instant burning to only find that the socket was setting alight. Lucky I checked on my son (4yrs old, daughter 2yrs), god knows what might have happened. The central heating does not work at all and I have been forced to buy electric heaters. The windows upstairs do not open so its a safety hazard. This has caused mould to form as there is no ventilation.

I could really go on with many other problems I could seriously cry. I have contacted the letting agents and they have done nothing to help. I really don't know what else to do. I have been forced to stay with my parents. I have been in this property for 8 months now and I really don't know what to do.

Don't judge us all because of your bad experience with low life tenants!

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rachel kershaw 6th March, 2014 @ 11:24

Does anyone have any advice about how to proceed when a tenant fails to make up the difference between the HB and the actual rent (and refuses to answer the phone!)

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Steve 12th September, 2014 @ 22:52

Hi Rachel

Did you get an answer to your question?



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