My Tenants Are Getting Divorced

My tenants are getting divorced

Happy New Year to you all. Hope you had a blast!

Before I dive into the purpose of this blog post, please allow me to digress on a grand scale (perhaps the grandest to date)… because right now I need to vent…

I’m currently on a flight home from Bucharest where I was fortunate enough to see through the New Year. Amazing city, I had a very cool time. The journey home, however, has a lot to be desired. The journey home is always a dreaded affair, but this one is particularly brutal. I’m on one of those budget airlines where everything is limited, particularly the allocated space and general level of comfort. The only feature (I say “feature” reluctantly) they seem to be generous with is air. Literally, they’re NEVER shy with blasting chilling air through the nipple-shaped air-conditioning vents. I am f’ing F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G right now.

I generally have a high threshold for enduring piss-poor situations, but I’m spectacularly struggling. Besides from the completely unnecessary sub-zero climate, I’m currently sandwiched between two rather ‘burly’, or perhaps ‘rotund’ is the better word, individuals that have thighs bigger than my entire waist, which are spilling over into my designated seating area and making a shambles of my entitled personal space. Bizarrely, they seem totally oblivious and comfortable with the situation, which I say, while looking through the corner of my eyes in envy, admiring them in a very relaxed and unconscious state. Assholes.

They say obesity has become a major epidemic across Europe, so perhaps my current situation isn’t that unusual anymore, hence the total disregard. I have no qualms with people failing to conform with society’s expectations of the ‘ideal’ physique, that is, until it spills onto my lap and compromises my blood circulation and general well-being. I am displeased to say the least.

I’ve literally lost 2-4 inches of MY space from both sides as they’re both appear to be physically unable to sit with their legs closed without chaffing and/or causing themselves serious discomfort. That’s a lot of precious real estate I’m being robbed of considering the already limited confinement. Evidently, they couldn’t give a flying fuck about my discomfort and my compressed corpse. I know I’m not exaggerating either, because during the final safety checks before takeoff, a flight attendant caught a glimpse of my predicament and gave me a look of hopeless sympathy. She knew I was in an unfortunate position, but didn’t look at me for too long because she knew there was nothing she could do to help on this fully booked flight.

If you imagine, my legs are wedged together (compromising the comfort of my most prized assets), and my elbows are glued to my hips, and the only parts of my body I can freely move without impacting my neighbours’ blubber are my hands and my head, which I can freely rotate and swivel. To make matters horrendously worse, I can feel the body heat elevating off the flesh of the chap sitting to the right of me. It’s pretty mortifying, and I’m amazed I haven’t projectile vomited all over his stupid, restful face. I honestly don’t know if he’s overheating due to a pre-flight wank or if that’s a permanent feature of being burly. The good news is his hygiene levels seem to be in order, so I’m not picking up any unsavoury odours. However, the fact I can feel his sweltering body heat is revolting enough.

2 hours left of this godforsaken flight; time could not fly fast enough right now.

What does all this have to do with my life as a landlord and my tenants? Nothing at all, but I wanted to set the overall dull tone for the new year by highlighting my current grotesque situation. Fortunately, I’m not one of those people that expect big changes or random sprouts of good fortune just because the calendar rolled over to a new year, so I’m not going to allow this moment to hinder my already regular expectations for the coming year.

As you can rightly presume from the title of this post, the new year isn’t going so well for my tenants’ either. It’s definitely not a competition, but I’m probably still the biggest victim of bad fortune here: 20 year marriage going down the shitter Vs being squashed alive and suffocating on someone else’s body fumes. Not to mention, the massively reduced stability of my tenants’ status that I, as the landlord, now have to be concerned with.

Surely I win (if it was a competition).

The divorce

So, last week I was driving home from… somewhere (don’t remember where)… when I unexpectedly received a phone call from my tenant, let’s call him Eddie. Eddie and his wife, let’s go with Dorothy, have been my tenants for a mere 7 weeks. I really like them; they’re kind, respectful and particularly well-mannered. However, despite their good nature, I was still nervous when I saw an incoming call from Eddie, because 92 times out of 100 tenants only break radio silence to report bullshit maintenance issues which they can resolve themselves, as opposed to inconveniencing the shit out of me. The remainder of the calls are typically split between genuine and legitimate reasons for contacting me and miscellaneous garbage that make me want to contemplate suicide.

Based on experience, I was anticipating to hear a plumbing related drama because it’s that time of the year when the pipes are being pushed harder than usual, so they generally just pack up and die, which of course, allows scrupulous plumbers a fabulous reason to jack up their prices. I was scared. But of course, you all already know what the phone call was about. It certainly wasn’t regarding a lousy repair. The following is the crux of what Eddie told me on the phone:

Hi Landlord,

I’ve got something to tell you, but I don’t want you to be alarmed.

A week after we moved into your property, Dorothy and I decided to separate and get a divorce. She’s done some things that I can’t forgive and I’ve unfortunately had to move out. It’s been a really difficult period in my life as you can imagine; we have been together for 20 years.

The situation is that I’ve moved out, but she’s going to remain in the property and continue to honour the contract. I’m going to continue paying her rent for the next 2 years. That’s what we have agreed to.

You’ve been more than fair and nice to us, so I just wanted to make you aware of the situation, and that you don’t need to worry about the rent. Dorothy doesn’t know I’m making this phone call.

If there’s any problems, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The conversation lasted about 20 minutes. I didn’t bother reciting my responses because they stray from the relevant facts, but just imagine thoughtful, empowering, liberating and motivational words of wisdom, which gave him the strength to continue and appreciate life. There was something very Martin Luther King’ish about my flow. He didn’t say it, but I’m sure my tender words of comfort was just what he needed at the time. I believe that’s the real reason he called, and not just to inform me of the devastating news that could potentially cause havoc on my life. His too, I guess.

Obviously that was the last thing I expected to hear, especially so close to Christmas. They genuinely seemed happy. Granted, I’m basing that on 4 measly encounters and a few formal phone conversations. What the hell do I know about what goes on behind closed doors? They could be rubbing their gums and nipples with cocaine every night for all I know.

Eddie didn’t tell me exactly what happened, but I read in-between the lines and I felt like he was strongly trying to tell me that Dorothy did the dirty on him. My natural masculine instinct forced me to momentarily block out Eddie’s wallowing voice and take on board that there’s now a single, relatively attractive, vulnerable and bonafide hussy staying in my property, who may eventually require me to pop over in my tight overalls to tighten a few loose screws. That could be awkward, because after all, I am only male.

Incidentally, while I was taking the viewing with the couple, I did ‘respectfully’ think to myself “Yeah, not bad for an older woman” She’s definitely got the right tools in the locker to unravel into a desirable piece of meat that wouldn’t be short of an offer or two, even from the local Vicar. Of course, this is just speculation, and perhaps a sordid fantasy of mine; she may not have cheated at all. I’m digressing like crazy, again.

Anyways, it’s a bit of an odd situation, and one I’ve never been in before. It’s especially awkward since they have been separated for 6+ weeks and Dorothy (the remaining occupant) hasn’t mentioned anything to me, even though we have recently partaken in friendly exchanges regarding the arrangement of a gas safety check. She seemed happy as Larry, which in hindsight makes perfect sense- she really has mastered the art of deceit. But again, I speculate.

So am I meant to act dumb and just assume I’m none the wiser? Probably. It’s a domestic issue and it’s none of my business, so it seems like the best play.

Where does the divorce leave me (the real victim in all this)?

Well, firstly, I’m just grateful I have decent tenants and that the rent is being paid (I genuinely believe it will continue to be paid). I really don’t have any reason to rock the boat, unless Dorothy’s new-found vulnerable condition encourages her to act crazy and put herself on a plate for me when I next pop over. Then I will have no choice but to rock the boat, right? Time is definitely due for me to tick, “seduce a tenant” off my bucket-list. But for now, nothing has to change, I just continue to monitor the rent payments.

It’s a joint tenancy, both their names are on the tenancy agreement contract, so they’re still both legally responsible and bound by the terms in the contract, including the rent. That obviously gives added security, although pretty pointless if there’s only one breadwinner. In this case, they both happen to be employed.

Essentially, the situation for me, as the landlord, wouldn’t be much different from two platonic friends falling out, and then deciding to go their separate ways. The general gist is that there’s been a feud among tenants and living arrangements have changed. I really don’t have any specific experience or intricate legal knowledge regarding tenants getting divorced, there might be legal entitlements and technicalities for the separated couple (i.e. who is entitled to remain in the property), but I believe it’s standard protocol for the landlord. However, I imagine, in many cases, it can get very messy, and become a legal minefield.

While mulling the situation over, here are a few points (mostly generic good practices) I considered, which of course, may or may not be of any help at all to you…

  • Communication: I appreciate that burying one’s head in the sand or in a pair of gigantic silicone inflated tits (whichever is accessible at the time) is the easiest and most convenient method of dealing with most problematic/difficult situations. But in reality, avoiding the realities of life is often the root of unnecessary complications and further problems.

    Whether you’re a tenant or landlord, it’s always best to be open about any directly related problems (no matter how big or small it may be), because it makes a lot easier to prepare and deal with situations. I genuinely believe that the majority of problems in life escalate out of control due to lack of communication.

    In my specific case I chose not to further interfere with the situation because it’s a very personal and domesticated issue. I know what I need to know. But generally speaking, communication is key to resolving disputes, but due diligence is required at times.

  • Business Vs Personal matters: I just briefly touched on this point, but I think it’s worthy of it’s own bullet point. It’s important for landlords to remain professional when tenants are having their own personal in-house dilemmas. Don’t get involved, just focus on the business aspects. You don’t want to be caught in a cross-fire, even if your intentions are honourable. Moreover, it’s always in your best interest to remain neutral, don’t take sides (even if there is an occupant involved which you wouldn’t mind screwing around with).
  • Don’t panic: don’t make any rash decisions. I could have easily contemplated ending the tenancy, but it didn’t make any sense to do that. I knew my property was being taken care of and the rent was being paid, and more importantly, despite my tenants’ personal dispute, I trust them both to be decent tenants.

    My point is, there’s no point worrying or panicking until there’s reason to, but that’s not to say you should’t make extra provisions to protect yourself from any potential risks due to the new circumstances. Find out all the facts and then act rationally.

  • Inspection: often during domestic related incidents there is, very sadly, violence involved. I know if my hypothetical wife cheated on me I would be enticed to throw a couple of plasma TV’s and clenched fists across the room. On that note, if you’ve been notified of any reasons to be concerned about the safety of your property, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to arrange a property inspection to ensure everything is in order.

    A couple of weeks ago I actually entered the property (with permission) to allow the gas man to enter the property, which allowed me to inspect the property. This was before I knew about the ongoing drama, but the property genuinely looked amazing, so I know it’s being taken good care of.

  • Surrendering the tenancy: legally, tenants are obligated to remain your tenants and liable for the full rent up until the end-date specified in the tenancy agreement. Unless of course, the tenancy is legally terminated. However, in most cases I don’t recognise any reason to force tenants to honour the agreement, particularly in the situation where the tenants are separated. So if the tenants want to end the tenancy early, I would oblige, and allow them to surrender the tenancy. In my case, the last thing I want to do is entrap two volatile individuals together.

    If you’re not convinced, and you’re adamant on flexing your authority by enforcing your tenants to honour the agreement, I would recommend you read my blog post on tenants wanting to leave early.

  • Renewing Vs Terminating tenancy: when the boat is rocked you’ll naturally consider the future of your tenants. Is it in your best interest to terminate the tenancy or allow it to continue? Think about it carefully.

    I’m going to allow the tenancy to continue for now, because they haven’t given me any reason to worry. I’m not even going to renew/update the tenancy so Dorothy becomes the sole occupant when the end date approaches. Instead, I’m going to allow the tenancy to become periodic so it remains a joint tenancy, that way both tenants remain liable. On that principle, I’d advise all landlords to be cautious before renewing tenancies with a sole occupant.

    However, if in your case you feel completely uncomfortable with the situation for whatever reason (e.g. domestic violence has occurred), it might be worth terminating the tenancy as soon as possible.

  • Change in tenant’s status: most landlords will class a couple/family as “one tenant”, as opposed to two friends living together, which usually get classed as individual tenants (albeit, they may still have a joint tenancy). So now Eddie and Dorothy have separated (probably not “legally” at this point though), they effectively seem like individual tenant’s. If they legally get separated/divorced, the remaining occupant (Dorothy) maybe entitled to housing benefits due to the loss of income, which may make her a DSS tenant. If that happens, it may or may not cause additional concerns and problems for myself, only time will tell. However, I believe it will be down to the discretion of the local council to determine her legibility. Some councils will only entitle Dorothy to claim if she is a sole tenant, which will mean renewing the tenancy agreement (which is a common request from separated tenants so they can qualify for benefits).

    Either way, it’s important to note that when a couple become separate entities, their “tenant status” as individuals may change as their financial circumstances change. Definitely something to think about.

  • Joint tenancies: I always favour joint-tenancies when applicable, particularly in the case of a couple that are both employed. This means that liability for the rent will be split, making it more likely for the rent to be paid.

    Ultimately, this means if worse comes to worse and the tenants fall into arrears because there’s an internal dispute about who’s going to pay for the rent and/or remain in the property, it will be a hell of a lot easier to recoup the money if the case ends up in court.

    If the tenancy isn’t joint, in terms of landlord law, the person’s name on the tenancy agreement contract is responsible to pay the landlord. However, this is where the issue may creep into the realms of “family law”, as they may need to make financial arrangements regarding splitting assets and settlements. From what I’m led to believe from copious amounts of daytime TV (how reliable of a source that information is, I’ll leave that for you to decide), the men usually get royally screwed over. But of course, that’s not our concern as landlords- our prime target is the responsible tenant in this case.

  • Expect the unexpected: never in a million years would I have guessed that my tenant was contacting me to divulge the demise of his marriage. While divorces are incredibly common these days (kind of like obesity), it was still a reminder that shit happens. Granted, the shit is usually in the form of rent arrears, but it doesn’t do anyone any harm to expect the unexpected.

Legal advice

Whether you specifically need legal advice on the matter at hand or on another landlord/tenant related issue, I would recommend contacting your local Citizens Advice or Shelter. You could also try leaving a comment below, there’s often some useful responses :)

Has anyone else been in this situation? If so, what happened? Can anyone offer further advise/experience?

Finally, my flight is almost over and I feel grateful to be alive (not that my life was in danger, but I guess traumatic moments make us all feel nostalgic and appreciative). I hope everyone else managed to start their new year on a more positive note. If not, feel free to vent. I invite you into the circle of trust.

Like this post? Then maybe you should sign up to my FREE newsletter so you receive more like it!

44 Comments- join the conversation...

Guest Avatar
Benji 8th January, 2015 @ 16:59

Either he will move back in or she will be gone within the year (assuming there are no kids).

1
Guest Avatar
Andy 8th January, 2015 @ 19:44

I have had a similar situation but tenants moved out and went different directions, glad I had a guarantor though as would not have got money without putting pressure on the dad. In your situation I would just keep taking the money until the situation arises where an alternative action is required. The fact that circumstances have changed has not caused you any issue. As you say they are both liable for rent but you should be on top of it perhaps making 1/4 visits as she might go off with a new partner and he might just stop paying rent. Not a problem for today but tomorrow will come.

2
Guest Avatar
Katy 8th January, 2015 @ 20:29

This happened to me and the woman stayed and ended up claiming benefits to stay in the property as she didn't work. My "No DSS" in the advert 2 years earlier went out of the window. To be fair despite the warnings of my agent that housing benefit tenants were unreliable, the rent was alway paid on time and in full.

3
Guest Avatar
Joann 9th January, 2015 @ 07:41

As a tenant I've done ' bullshit maintenance repairs' myself or paid a professional to do them - then had strips torn off me by the landlord as it's 'not up to me to make those decisions' I'm talking about blocked drains and faulty electrics. It seems to me no matter how good a thoughtful and self sufficient tenant you are landlords don't give a rats. I hope if there's ever a day roles are reversed I more than appreciate a good tenant.

4
Guest Avatar
Frances 9th January, 2015 @ 10:06

Re your "Business Vs Personal matters" bullet point: this is really important. I've just had a tenant contacting me with various personal and mental health issues. I've recommended she investigates getting some help, but apart from that, I am keeping my distance (and monitoring rent).

5
Guest Avatar
Nige 9th January, 2015 @ 10:50

Add this experiernce to the list !! Ive had the lot from old folk found ill in bed to the suicide of a friend.
I'm sure that Littlewoods sell ejector beds. It would seem that my tenants change partners every time the school bell rings and the button is pressed an a new partner installed.
At least your situation is reasonably straight forward.. Unlike my tenant who gave one of the properties to his ex wife (who incidentally hates him) and cleared off without telling us. I won't quite use the word compassion but general help has meant a long term tenant on DHSS and she has been as good as gold making up shortfall payments.
Oh Ive had the sob stories. One got cancer and was on a short term contract. Her kids wrecked the house whilst in hospital. This was followed up by 'fake' letters from her brother purporting to be a letting agent telling me they had pulled in environmental health because the wrecked bathroom was a health hazard. Then they pulled in environmental health. I won that case.
Welcome to the crazy world of being a landlord. One minute it seems smooth and the next minute some weird and wonderfulproblem will be foisted on you just as you have changed into your good clothes to go to an evening show.

6
Guest Avatar
john jervis 9th January, 2015 @ 11:53

Love the way you express yourself, keep it coming.

7
Guest Avatar
Helen 9th January, 2015 @ 13:15

This is one of the many, many, MANY reasons why statutory 3 year contracts are not a good ides.
As agents we have dealt with this situation quite a lot. As you rightly say, they are jointly and severally liable for the rent until the end of the fixed term of the tenancy agreement. If the tenancy runs into a periodic, they should still both be liable. What should happen is that the person who has moved out should give notice that they are leaving at the end of the fixed term, then you should issue a new tenancy for the sole occupier if they have been paying the rent ok. It would be unusual for the person who has moved out to voluntarily keep paying rent after the fixed term, but if Eddie is happy to do that, you could let the tenancy run on into a periodic.

8
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2015 @ 14:33

@Ben
No kids involved, but the fact he's agreed to pay rent for 2 years as part of the settlement makes me inclined to believe she'll stick around for that duration. But then again, I wouldn't be surprised at all if she vacates at the end of the tenancy (next year)! Either way, as long as the rent is paid.

@Andy
Good point about circumstances changes in the future, particularly about her meeting someone else! Never thought about that. God, that could be horrific... for me.
n my blog post
@Katy
Never even considered that she could potentially qualify and become a DSS tenant. Glad you mentioned it, so thank you! I'm going to add something about it in the main post because I think it's a really crucial point.

Of course, it won't change my opinion of my tenant and I'm confident I'll continue to receive rent, but I know how ludicrous the benefits system is, which may concern me.

@Joann
Sounds like you just encountered an awfully unappreciative landlord. I definitely would have appreciated your efforts as long as everything was rectified sufficiently. However, while I would encourage all tenants to independently resolve trivial and light maintenance issues like blocked drains, I would like to be kept in the loop of any work relating to things like the electrics and gas/pipes etc.

Thanks for the comments folks!

9
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2015 @ 14:42

@Frances
You definitely did the right thing!

Always stay clear of your tenants domesticated/personal issues. This also includes conflicts with neighbours! Landlords can't be responsible for other peoples feuds and/or anti-social behaviors.

@Nige
Ha Nige, I can always rely on you to shower us with personal negative experiences regarding tenants. I'm starting to genuinely believe you've seen it all!

@John
Thanks John, appreciate it :)

@Helen
Couldn't agree with you more! The statutory 3 year contracts is an insane idea!

I believe Eddie agreed as part of the separation settlement. I think it's something they agreed between themselves, and not necessarily a legal obligation. But as Andy (comment #2) pointed out, circumstances for the sole occupant could change (e.g. she could shack up with someone else), which may discourage Eddie to continue paying. I guess only time will tell.

Hopefully they'll resolve their issues, not really for their own gains, but for the sake of making my life easier. Obviously that's the most important factor!

10
Guest Avatar
Nige 9th January, 2015 @ 15:20

@Landlord
Interestingly enough I seem to have the best tenants now that I have ever had. Its gradually sinking into them that the day of the free meal ticket is vanishing. That together with the computer age really coming in means they can run but they can't hide.
Localization rules are helping together with new DHSS rules. The supply of houses is diminishing for those who dont obey basic requirements of being a tenant. My friend works in a very large agency/estate agency and gets at least 3 requests a day because they are in rent arrears and sections 21 or 8 have been issued. As the council made one simple rule. If you are evicted for rent arrears then you are deemed to have made yourself homeless then their obligation is reduced to basic emergency accommodation. Her advice? Don't think the landlord was going to fund your smoking or the x box or widescreen tv. Get the priorities right. And that is just what my tenants seem to be doing !! Whey hey !!
PS my friend actually lost her job in a letting agency a year ago due to 2 large landlords deciding to do their own management. She took a £7k pay cut. One month and one day in arrears the mortgage company stomped on her. No help from DHSS here. Yes she cut back and survived !!

11
Guest Avatar
Charlotte 9th January, 2015 @ 15:42

AAAAAAAAHHH The landlord, you have cursed me!

I was reading your blog approximately one ago hour thinking, oh well I've not had that one happen to me.

And now I have literally just had an email, saying Mrs XXXX has separated from her husband and can she have a tenancy in her own name so she can claim.

AAAAAAAHH The Landlord - what have you done!

What would you guys do in this situation?

12
Guest Avatar
Nige 9th January, 2015 @ 15:51

Simple. If they have been good tenants keep em if you can.
One port of call if she will go on benefits is local HB rates. New rules have limits on rent which mean for example (may vary) that rent cannot be more that £25 than HB.

13
Guest Avatar
Charlotte 9th January, 2015 @ 15:54

Thanks Nige, I will be fine with the rent. They have been tenants for one month.

It seems as if it was all planned.

I think as the HB rate will cover the rent I will allow it but will keep the husbands details on file to use as a chase if there are issues.

14
Guest Avatar
Nige 9th January, 2015 @ 16:07

@ Charlotte. Never trust anyone in this game.
The smiley face hides some devious reasons.
HB takes time to sort/pay so tell them until that is paid you expect rent as usual. Ask her meet you and go through the contract. There is a good chance hubby read it she didn't. And if she applies for benefits this should be asap...not tomorrow...and ask for the receipt she can request to say she has made an application.

15
Guest Avatar
Benji 9th January, 2015 @ 18:46

@Charlotte,

'can she have a tenancy in her own name so she can claim.'

That doesn't sound right to me.
I have certainly had tenants in a similar position who have claimed without a new sole tenancy agreement.
Ask who at the council has advised her that and speak to them or even better, ask for the section in the council manual and do a search and read it up for yourself.

'It seems as if it was all planned.'

It does.
If she came to you tomorrow as a new prospective tenant would you take her on? I don't think I would.

When you took them on originally, did they have a guarantor or RGI?

Can she get a guarantor now?

Did you check them thoroughly?

Who is the lead tenant for the deposit?

Can she come up with a new deposit when the original is released?

'What would you guys do in this situation?'

I'd make it clear the husband is still liable for the rent, their domestic problems are their own affair.
I don't like being conned and I doubt this will end well so I'd serve a section 21 now.
I'd also offer to release them early from the agreement provided all rent is paid up until they leave.

@Nige,

'rent cannot be more that £25 than HB.'

I've never heard of that before and I know of lots of tenancies that breach that (some of mine included).

Do you have a link?

I think you are mistaken, could be wrong, please confirm.

16
Guest Avatar
Helen 9th January, 2015 @ 19:11

Charlotte - our council would require a tenancy in her sole name before she can claim. If her husband is still on the tenancy, then he is liable for the rent as well and if he is working there is no valid claim for housing benefit. You are in a legal Catch 22. If you issue a new tenancy, the wife can claim benefit, but you can not get any money from the husband and if you keep the same tenancy she can't claim. It would be worth asking the husband to be the guarantor for the new tenancy. That way she could claim, but he would be liable if she defaults on the rent.
Re the deposit; he will need to sign an agreement to say he will allow the deposit to be used for her sole tenancy, unless she can find the money herself. You will need to re-serve the prescribed information and re-protect the deposit.

Landlord - I agree with Andy. Eddie may have agreed to pay the rent, but if Dorothy pisses him off he may well stop paying. I am thinking that shagging her landlord might well do the trick! My advice - hands off!!

17
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2015 @ 19:54

@Charlotte
Haha, Jesus, what are the odds? Must be some weird voodoo shizzle, or perhaps we're connected somehow! I recently read about something called 'Soul Connection', it's about a deep link between two people. I always assumed it was Astrological junk, but this proves otherwise! I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your star crossed paths with my moon today! We're basically twins! Amazing how both the separations occurred so early on in the tenancy.

Anyways, back onto the issue, it actually does sound planned. They may not even be separated, this could be just a ploy to scam the system.

I think Benji & Helen covered a lot of it.

I'd personally be reluctant to renew the tenancy with her as the sole tenant, because then the husband will have no liability to pay the rent (as Helen said, it's a catch 22).

I think the best thing for you to do is actually talk to her and find out all the details, and then go from there e.g. can she get a guarantor, is the husband willing to continue to pay the rent (if so, who for how long?), can she afford to pay the rent without his help etc.

Also, from my experience, the council doesn't just hand over benefits to new claimants. The process can take time to set up, and you may lose out on rent during that period. But they do often backdate the payments. Perhaps another reason not to renew the tenancy.

If it all seems fishy after further investigation, I would serve a s21, but preferably, get them to surrender the tenancy under the basis that you're not willing to give her sole occupancy (she may understand and willingly to surrender).

18
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2015 @ 19:55

@Helen
Agreed!

As usual, your wisdom hasn't landed on deaf ears. I'll keep the mouse in the house for now :)

19
Guest Avatar
Benji 9th January, 2015 @ 19:59

@Helen,

What you say makes good sense.

Although there is no way I would give her a new tenancy without some very strong safeguards.

Re the deposit, that means that at some stage this dodgy tenant has the deposit in their hands.

I wouldn't trust them.

20
Guest Avatar
Nige 9th January, 2015 @ 20:12

@ benji,
I only refer to our local area. Yes I have had tenants who overshoot the amount paid by LHA and HB. This is result of the so called bedroom allowance. I just phoned my friend in the agents for confirmation. It would appear that when a tenancy is granted HB/LHA require a copy of tenancy agreement before making assessment. She had a case where rent was £650 and max LHA was £595 . Tenants were not allowed to take it.The rejection was done on the basis that LHA was assessed on income /circumstances and therefore where was the extra money coming from ?. I know there are contingency funds that can be called on to avoid eviction where for example a rent increase takes the rent over the £595 + £25 . As said the localization acts are allowing different areas different rules.In our area landlords are of course bumping rents up over the LHA+£25 to stop tenants on benefits. All this said I have a tenant who gets £465 per 4 weeks on a £619.50 pcm rent and he makes it up. Whether this is contingency plan money or not is not my concern as long as I am getting my money which I am. I have a feeling that he will be pulled up by some benefits department to account for where that is coming from. Poignant as there are 1 adult+ 1 child in 3 bed house. I have a feeling the guarantor is stepping in on this case and I am on good terms with tenant but he is the type to avoid work rather than get a low paid job and get tax credits or whatever.

21
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th January, 2015 @ 20:18

@Nige

I for one welcome that policy. But it might be a bit unfair in many cases. I used to have a DSS tenant that had a shortfall of £100, but her mum used to pay it without fail. But in general, I think it's a good policy that will protect many landlords.

22
Guest Avatar
Nige 10th January, 2015 @ 00:48

It has certainly tightened up the system to stop those who skip thinking they are going to get help from the councils after leaving the previous landlord with debts and unpaid matters. No longer can they just run and the landlord is left using all the tools of section 21s and 8's to gain possession of their property whilst the property remains vunerable security wise.

I don't make the rules but this current system favours ALL tenants who are decent and above board and definitely stomps on those who have no intention of doing anything but moving from one landlord to another leaving a trail of devastation.

23
Guest Avatar
Smithy 10th January, 2015 @ 06:50

- Don't take sides. If you say to one of them that the other is a complete b*****d, you can guarantee that two weeks later they will be back together and your comment will be shared. The one with whom you sided will declare you are the villain of the piece, and the next thing you know they will be blaming you for the split in the first place.

- Don't seek too much information. If Social Services have put her and the children in a refuge because of violence, you are better off not knowing where they are. So when he asks you if you know their whereabouts, you can honestly say 'no'.

Also if you think one of them has been cheating with someone else, you should turn a blind eye. There could be an innocent explanation - but you don't want to know. So when the other one asks you about it you can honestly say you know nothing.

- Really, really try to remain neutral. When you hear the sob story from one side, you will think it's all the other one's fault. Until you hear the sob story from the other one. We never know what goes on inside someone else's relationship.

- Always remember that you are not their Social Worker, Debt Counsellor, housing advisor, marriage guidance counsellor etc. You are just their landlord.

24
Guest Avatar
Benji 10th January, 2015 @ 11:15

@Nige,
Cheers for the reply.

Maybe your area is different but this refers to the country as a whole;

http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Crisis%20Briefing%20-%20Housing%20Benefit%20cuts.pdf

According to Government figures, 48% of people on
LHA already face shortfalls between their benefit and their rent, with the average shortfall being £23/week.

I posted that link as it states the situation clearly. Since the LHA changes, the number is now closer to 2/3rds of claimants and the £100/month shortfall has increased.

This is how they are making up the shortfall;

http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/monitoring-impact-changes-lha-summary-early-findings.pdf

In total, 42 per cent of respondents with a shortfall said they had cut back on household essentials (such as heating and food) and 36 per cent had cut back on non-essentials. Just over a third had borrowed money from family or friends to make up the shortfall. Three out of ten claimants said they had drawn on their other benefit income (such as Income Support (IS) or Jobseeker’s
Allowance (JSA)) to make up the shortfall between their rent and the LHA that they received.

People are also allowed to claim even if they have savings of up to £6000 (or more in some circumstances).

25
Guest Avatar
andrewa 10th January, 2015 @ 17:59

As long as the rent is paid you are ok, when this ceases to be so, out she goes. As far as seduction goes...............old South African saying "do not shit where you eat".

26
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 10th January, 2015 @ 18:01

@Smithy
Agreed. Essentially, stay away from the drama and strictly remain a landlord, no more, no less.

@andrewa
Ha, we say "Don't shit on your own doorstep"

27
Guest Avatar
Nige 10th January, 2015 @ 18:17

Maybe in SA they eat non paying tenants. Now there's an idea !!

28
Guest Avatar
David 10th January, 2015 @ 19:01

What kind of cuckold idiot is this, his wife sleeps with someone else and he pays 2 years rent as a settlement when there are no kids and she works?

SHE should be paying the settlement, including backpay!

@TheLandlord you need to tell us was it Ryan Air or Easyjet, I imagine the former? I banned myself from flying with them some years ago, I have never know a company who has more disdain for their customers. I remember one time they kept my lot waiting by the gate for 2 hours, finally I got a coffee and croissants at cafe kiosk right by the gate, one hat charges £6 a drink and £4.50 for a bag of crisps. I just sat back down and they called us for boarding, the delightful Nazi flight attendant then told me I could not take the purchased food or drinks on the flight. When I protested the Biatch told me that if I did not comply immediately they would not board me. So I binned the best part of £40 of food and drinks. Then on the flight they wanted to charge me £3.50 for an instant maxwell house in a pre-packed plastic cup.

That was the last straw, after years of abuse, being charged for stuff for a disabled child on top of the plethora of other over the top charges, I had enough.

I declined when a friend even offered to pay for me to have a Ryan air flight, I pointed out the that last time the airport was 70 miles from where I thought I was flying to (thus requiring a hire car), that the baggage allowance was half any other airline and they had a scam on the return journey that did not let you bring hand luggage even though it was within Ryan Air TINY Size regs, they had a grid in the airport that was smaller than the refs. Again the threat of pay up or give up or don't fly was dictated by the nastiest vermin (her previous job was in camp x-ray but she was fired for being too nice). They also had a scam where they had a 2nd member of staff who put his foot on the belt so you came up overweight. They got really pissed when I hung around and warned other passengers.

They have tried to improve their reputation but it is in the blood of the CEO and thus the organisation, he has all the discretion of Gerald Ratner. He even wanted to remove the loos to make room for more seats.

@Nige "New rules have limits on rent which mean for example (may vary) that rent cannot be more that £25 than HB" I did not hear about that, what Council do you know has that rule? It is a real "know your place" rule, thou shalt only rent a shithole. I know the max they can claim in total is limited to £500 a week and after seeing "how to get a Council House" it is hard not to agree albeit that the only people who seem to get a place are from foreign shores or here for 30 years but can't speak English so they get an interpreter too.

I disagree with that policy, a friend of mine split with his wife, ended up homeless got no support from state. He took on a 2 bed place so he could have his kids over at weekends and once in the week. The rent was £75 over the 1 bed LHA rate. He started a business from nothing and was never short or late paying the rent. Anyone can fall off the ladder, it could be YOU!

29
Guest Avatar
bluebird4ever 10th January, 2015 @ 21:09

Stay away, a wide birth, things may settle down.He may return
just collect your money.
She may go after a few house inspections,so keep a low profile

good luck

30
Guest Avatar
Nige 11th January, 2015 @ 01:25

@ David.
I can assure you that I have been at the bottom of the pile more than once in my life. Each time it made me determined not to be at the bottom and get off my backside and try and do something. No benefits ever given..ever.
As you say the tenant started a business from scratch. Don't anyone tell you it can't be done. At 15 my daughter was buying various sexy type toys from the £1 or 99p store and punting them out at £5 plus pp on ebay.
I have a good idea what she was turning over as mug had to get the packages to the post office and there were never less than 3 a day !!!

31
Guest Avatar
David 11th January, 2015 @ 11:27

I agree with you Nige, but we all need a base of operations, i.e. a home and internet connection to run such a business.

I do not think it is a right of the State to dictate where someone can live, they can of course say they will only pay the rent for the appropriate number of bedrooms.

The tenant and the Landlord are the ones with the responsibilty to check affordability. I know a woman who has 3 kids, 2 of them are disabled, she works and has always paid her rent. She gets a lot of money in DLA, her child tax credits are higher because of the disabled kids. She earns around £16k before tax but gets about £32k after tax.

The DLA is provided to make the "living" with disability easier, that includes adapting a room perhaps.

There is no way she is ever going to not be able to pay the rent and it is not for a Local Council to dictate. Also what would happen if someone had already secured the tenancy, are they seriously saying that a tenant has to leave.

A landlord that lets a 4 bed house to a family needs to consider they could fall off the ladder and end up on benefits and only be entitled to rent for 3 bed because of the ages or sex of the children.

What Council was it?

32
Guest Avatar
Nige 11th January, 2015 @ 12:27

@David
I won't get into the usual argument on benefits etc but as you say once they cotton on to how much they can get they have a very decent standard of living financially.
Its actually not the state who pays benefits anyway. Its from the pot of taxes we pay and therefore we all pay this by higher VAT, income tax, NI or anything else thats deducted.
Funny how the benefit payments for not working are substantially higher than the state pension. Something wrong here.

I have a tenant on basically minimum wage, 4 kids, wife not working and claims legitimately for disablement benefits.He is a great tenant. Money up front, does own repairs, borrows my driveway to fix cars etc. The net income he receives is substantially more than I get from being a landlord.But I respect his attitude. Never whinges, works awful hours and so on. After 10 years he is moving because house is not big enough to cater for disabled child.Yes he is getting help, choice of social housing to suit needs etc. I will be sad to lose him and council are supporting him. Why? Because he plays by basic rules.

Going back to rent differentials. Yes everyone can rent what they like. But the cap is on how much the public pot will pay and as I pointed out there are contingency funds. But as has been pointed out tenants can still get benefits when they have £6k in the bank and this I believe is going up. My friend got zero benefits because she owned her property and only got basic jobseekers.

If as has been also said relatives or friends are helping make up the rent then this is as it should be. I had to support my daughter through college. But if they have access to funds which are being paid regularly by a third party then this is an income and this is where the problem lies. It is classed as income and therefore benefits are adjusted accordingly.

I never question my tenants as to where the income is coming from but the authorities do. I know most are on some fiddle which I turn a blind eye to.

If we go back to the original post I had a similar situation. Married couple split and she rented one of my houses. They still saw each other daily and she had brand new furniture and bought a second car. I found the house full of fags and booze after they were going French beer runs. After 1 year of her living off benefits they reunited. So in effect for one year their lifestyle was paid by us. Something wrong here.

Genuine ones yes...not the ones who think the world owes them a living.

33
Guest Avatar
Emmagain 11th January, 2015 @ 18:44

Nige said rent cannot be more that £25 than HB.

That sounds like a load of old bollocks.
Cut the bullshit stories.
Just answer the question-
What council was it?

34
Guest Avatar
Nige 11th January, 2015 @ 19:46

Well Emmagain I don't really give a flying fig whether it is as you say a lot of old bollocks. I'm retired and like many landlords I speak to I am selling up. As I said unfortunately I will be evicting good tenants with plenty of notice and as they are finding out its almost impossible for them to find properties that they can afford any more.And yes I offer all the support I can.
My tenants have been aware for 2 years that the tenancy may end as this is my pension. They chose to stay. 3 beds that I rent for £595 will fetch the new owners £750 so tell me where the tenant will find the £155 extra a month as the max LHA rates are set per area.? And they are now liable for 15% council tax adding another £10 a month. (again not my fault)
I have just spoken to someone regarding this who rents a housing association house. Before they got their tenancy they had to jump through 101 hoops including all incomes and whether they would be able to afford the rent on benefits. Bank statements had to be produced showing personal flows of all incomes and if they couldn't afford they didn't get.. I have friends who have kept properties vacant for over 2 years and they are subject to penalty council tax rather than go through the complications of renting.
My local council scheme consisting of offering a deposit bond for disadvantaged people ( all but one of my properties are on this scheme and the property is inspected for standards by the council) is having virtually zero take up now by landlords.
If private landlords are attacked or are subjected to this constant tirade of rules and regs plus accusations I know exactly where this will lead as I see it happening now. Property is being mopped up by less than scrupulous landlords(often foreigners who hop back to their own country to avoid prosecution) who are far harder on tenants than accredited landlords.

So go attack someone else Emmagain. I offer good service to my tenants at affordable rents in inspected properties. I don't make DHSS rules. Find out which council yourself.

35
Guest Avatar
Emmagain 11th January, 2015 @ 20:31

That was hard work Nige.

What you said was, rent cannot be more that £25 than HB.

What you meant was, that is what one of the housing associations in your local area requires.

That isn't 'DHSS' rules, it is just what some social landlord has decided as the criteria for letting out their properties.

It is a very different thing.

36
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th January, 2015 @ 21:03

@David
Ha, you're going to start me off on a rant!

I confess, it was the former. I was going to mention the horrendous blue faux leather chairs in my post to make it obvious, but for one reason or another I decided to keep their identity anonymous.

I've had a few shocking experiences with them. Just on this trip alone, the flight was over an hour delayed, which I could deal with, but NO ONE thought it was a good idea to make an announcement and explain why, they deemed it more appropriate to just leave us waiting/guessing. I thought that was shockingly weird.

Coincidentally, I also fell for the coffee scam on this particular journey. I've always resisted because I assumed that the "Freshly brewed, authentic Italian coffee" (or something along those lines) sales pitch on the back of the seats (you know it's a budget airline when they're putting up advertisements for their own refreshments on the back of the seats) was total BS. However, I was craving caffeine on this journey home so I thought, "what the hell, can't be that bad", so I buckled and ordered a cappuccino.

The BS sales pitch was confirmed. Freshly brewed my ass (but I bet they can legally justify their sales pitch by breaking down the definition of "freshly brewed"). They basically served me instant coffee with powdered milk in one of those pre-packed cups you mentioned. It didn't even taste like coffee and the obscure after-taste made me concerned for my health. My naivety (and trust in their adverts) led me to believe that they actually installed proper coffee machines in their planes. Thinking about it now, man, I was stupid to even contemplate that possibility- my senses must have been impaired by matey's body fumes. Why would they essentially increase the comfort of their passengers and increase the weight of the plane for no reason? I'm NEVER falling for that scam again, despite my caffeine craving.

My main gripe with these budget airlines is that they charge excessively for EVERYTHING beyond the bog standard service, notably the cost of checking in luggage, which often costs more than the actual flight! They even charge extra to pre-book a standard allocated seat, which is crazy. I would understand if you're booking extra leg space, but not for the standard seats! They're trying to milk it every which way.

I think I heard a few years ago that they were going to charge for using the toilet, as opposed to removing them. I remember hearing about it on the news, but that bright idea may have been scrapped, probably because it was against health and safety.

Rant over!

37
Guest Avatar
Nige 12th January, 2015 @ 00:24

You wait until you travel on the budget budget airlines. Flew on one and hand luggage had to be placed in front of you between the knees. It was E10 to put in overhead locker. Or the Bulgarian inflight meal that was a chunk of cheese and slices of cucumber. When another passenger said they had ordered vegetarian the cheese was removed and replaced with more cucumber. However in the latest economy cuts and get as many in as you can they are currently experimenting with standing seats. Yep 23 inch legroom and you semi stand like those sloping bus stop seats.
http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/09/13/new-airplane-seats-give-only-23-inches-of-leg-room/.
Yep mysteriously Ryanair never had milk of sugar for the coffee on one flight !!!
Nothing beats a 12 hour stop on Dehli tarmac with external aircon unable to keep inside cool. Then sitting on takeoff with aircraft on full throttle to 'test' engines again and them failing. No food available because they could not locate a safe source. We got to Dubai before engines failed again. 48 hours stuck on a plane.

38
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 12th January, 2015 @ 19:20

@Nige

You win :)

I think I'll avoid budget, budget airlines like the plague. To be honest, I didn't even think it was possible to go 'more budget' than EasyJet/Ryanair.

39
Guest Avatar
Nige 12th January, 2015 @ 19:31

Think you can travel cheaper in Europe but it involves hanging onto a lorry axle at Calais !!

To be honest we do get some flights cheap when you consider the tax on departures.
http://www.afairtaxonflying.org/

I looked up rail travel within uk and choked at some of the prices. Even a 1 mile trip to the shops on a bus here is £2. (unless you have a bus pass like me !!)

More worrying is the latest report on servicing of aircraft. It is/was done in house and the changes mean that it can be farmed out anywhere. (looking forward to seeing 747s parked outside Joe's MOT station)

40
Guest Avatar
David 14th January, 2015 @ 16:31

@Emmagain be nice we can all have different opinions but no need for that.

@Landlord That reminds me I was messing around with Google translate and found this symbol (كسها)which I reserve for the chief exec of Ryanair. If he dies before me I will visit his grave, plant weeds and piss on it.

I heard that the aftertaste is because they use the "not drink water" (supposed to be for cleaning chemical toilet) to make the coffee.

Once I flew with them and they wanted to charge me for checking my bag which had a 10kg limit (24kg to 32kg elsewhere), so I decided to keep it under 5kg and have hand luggage only.

Of course I did not know that the security means you can carry on a 200ml aftershave (£48) in fact all my ash things got nabbed and binned.

If RyanAir went bust I would open that spare bottle of bubbly that I have been saving for a good occasion.

Sadly other airlines are copying them in this insane charge for every line item nonsense.

Most companies spend years building up their brand and reputation, this one seems determined to have the worst in the industry.

I have been on some cheap flights to Latin America, one where the only food or drink for 11 hours was a 30g packet of peanuts and a Rum with coke. On the internal flight I am not saying the plane was an old crate but they started the plane with the propeller and there was a puncture repair on the tyre! I do not mind cheap cheap but I hate the way RyanAir revel in ripping you off.

@nige, it really makes me sad to see you selling up with the impact on those families, it is understandable and what you highlight is the problem a lot of people face, a 25% hike in rents.

That is why they have no choice but to ask for social housing and why they get angry when they see "how to get a Council house" where most of the people getting them are fake assylum seekers or "our family argues a lot so give a home". The best quote was from the woman told she could not afford her rent and she said she would cancel Sky.

I do not have Sky because I can't afford it, I do not even have a TV License because I realised that my analog TV can't receive any channels so no live TV and by buying a NowTV box with no subscriptions (£10) I can watch catchup TV.

I have paid a fortune in tax in my lifetime and I was told "we do not have an obligation to you" when presenting homeless. I was told to go the the charity that meet twice a week in the Church. Not even a leaflet. No special treatment, no translaters laid on by the Council, sweet FA.

Actually I could claim disability but I will not and by the time I have to I will be ready to die.

Those wonderful Con-servatives have way more cuts planned, the FT said that based on reports from the office of budget responsibity "the numbers do not add up" and the cuts will need to be much deeper to achive what they say.

blogs.ft.com/off-message/2014/12/03/the-cuts-to-come/

Then we get the energy companies go get a 30% cut in energy costs (with more to come after oil price down) and just one gives us a paltry 3%. When these Bar Stewards put the prices up they blamed the oil price and we had to pay more immediately. Now they say it is because they buy futures, yet we all know they buy from their own companies to hide their obscene profits.

Now that is a rant!

41
Guest Avatar
Nige 14th January, 2015 @ 17:08

@David,
Yep but as my x grabbed everything she could except one small pension I don't really have an option.The 'married' deal was that I had property as pension and she had her business and the 25+years on 4 pension schemes. And then 2007 hit.

Just out of interest everyone blames one party or another. The current round of benefit cuts were actually published by labour prior to conservatives winning. And if you check political history you will find that measures implimented by one party are very rarely reversed by the incoming one.

Yes I will be kind of sad to have to 'evict' my tenants but in straight economic terms together with commercial valuations the properties will need updating or at least refreshing. I have noticed a trend here lately though. Houses are being sold at market value with tenants sitting. Something that has been rarely seen around here. Its all based on returns per capital input so houses are actually achieving higher than I would have expected than in the past.

42
Guest Avatar
D Moore 24th August, 2015 @ 20:59

Unbeknown to me, my married tenants have split up at some point and she has just remarried someone else and they are both now living in my property.

I have a joint tenancy in the names of Mr and Mrs Priddey and have done for 3 years. It has been renewed every 12 months and supposedly Mr and Mr Priddey have been signing it. It was only renewed in April 2015 and I made a point of asking her if there were any changes, I was made aware via facebook and the council phoning me to ask who was living in my property as Housing Benefit was being paid, that she was not living with her husband, but a new partner

I have just found out via Facebook that she has married her partner and that Mr and Mrs Sutton are now living in my property and not Mr and Mrs Priddey. She hasn't told me of any changes in occupiers, is my tenancy agreement invalid and how do I go about changing it? .... Would I want to? as a letting agent vetted Mr and Mrs Priddey and there are guarantor in place .... I don't want to add Mr Sutton to the tenancy without credit checks etc... Did the tenancy end when Mr Priddey moved out?

43
Guest Avatar
Nige 24th August, 2015 @ 23:02

If there is a guarantor there are 3 parties to the agreement. Guarantor and Mrs A and Mr A. I would imagine that the tenancy is also written as ''jointly and severally liable''

Now that Mrs A married Mr B this does not change the terms of the original agreement. It may however, as you state lead to Mr B technically being a sub letting tenant.

My first reaction would be to consider if you want to keep Mrs A as a tenant. If you do write to Mr A and the guarantor and work towards an agreement to renew the tenacy in different names. (See my earlier post where tenant gave his ex wife my house !!)

You must also get a release of deposits from the deposit scheme and transfer to the new tenancy.

The housing benefit claim is not so much a problem if you are getting the rent. If there is a guarantor then they are still liable until released. (or until tenancy is ended and a new one started.

From a logistical point of view it might be worth issueing a section 21 notice to end the original tenancy and then start a new tenancy in the name of Mrs B and Mr B subject to credit checks and expenses incurred.

Go visit and see if you can agree a solution.Write to guarantor so they are aware. If not its replace the tenants with new ones. If your area is like ours then tenants will be very aware how difficult it would be to get help and should cooperate.

44

Please leave a comment...

Nobody

Nobody

Landlord

Landlord

Tenant

Tenant

Agent

Agent

Legal

Legal

Buyer

Buyer

Developer

Developer

Enthusiast

Enthusiast