I’ve decided it’s not worth getting involved with DSS tenants because of the incompetence of the local council (or at least my local council).
They are so brain-numblingly stupid that it’s painful. Not to mention, their unwillingness to help landlords make me want to rip my beautiful eyes out with a blunt spoon every time I have to deal with them.
Let me be clear, I have no qualms with DSS tenants, but I’ll happily flat-out refuse DSS tenants just so I have no reason to deal with the council, and I know I’m not the only landlord that feels this way.
Council tax problem
I received a council tax bill through for £18.57 regarding a property. Not much, right? Right. But that wasn’t the point.
I knew I shouldn’t be liable because I’ve had tenants occupying the property, so I wanted to know what period the bill accounted for so I could drill down the problem. I’m not entirely sure why they don’t have the dates on the actual notices.
Anyways, I called my local council to find out what the deal was. A woman on the other end said it accounted for 15th August – 20th August. I told her that my tenant (a tenant I evicted) was occupying the property until the 20th of August and my new tenant moved in on the 21st.
The unhelpful tit on the other end said that their records showed that my ex-tenant and the council had agreed for her to vacate on the 14th. I said I wasn’t aware of that arrangement, and asked why I wasn’t made aware of that agreement, and how I was meant to know my tenant and the council had made that kind of arrangement? Her response was, “it’s your property, you should know”.
I felt like saying, “How the fuck am I meant to know if no one notified me? If I was meant to be made aware of that information, why didn’t you fucking inform me?”
I said something of sort, but sadly without the obscenities. So basically, if you take on a DSS tenant, you have to not only be in the loop with your tenant’s circumstances, but also keep tabs on your tenant to council relationship.
We basically kept aimlessly arguing for 20mins, and we were obviously getting increasingly frustrated.
It really wasn’t about the money, it’s the principle. I shouldn’t be made liable for my tenant’s council tax because my tenant and council had an arrangement that I wasn’t made aware of.
She then went on about how I needed proof to clarify that my tenant moved out on the 20th, and I should send them my tenancy agreement. I said “that would make no sense. My tenant was evicted which you’re aware of, so why would eviction dates be mentioned in the tenancy agreement? There’s no proof in there”, she said, “yes, I understand, unless you can provide proof you’re liable because it’s your property”
At this point I had mental images of slamming a pencil through her spine. I then said, “what if you had a tenant and she had made an arrangement with the council that you weren’t made aware of which ended up costing you?”
The conversation ended bitterly and we basically went around in circles. Urgh.
Benefit cheques received every 30 days
Benefit payments are released every 30 days. That makes no sense to me, because it’s totally impractical for landlords.
99.9999% of landlord charge tenants on a per calendar month basis. So for example, I collect rent on the 1st of every month, consequently it would make sense for the council to release cheques on a per calender month basis, even if it’s not on the date you require, but just as long as it’s on the same date of every month. Releasing cheques every 30 days can get confusing, especially if your tenant has to pay a shortfall. So if I agree for my tenant to pay £100 on the 1st of every month, and the council pay every 30 days, I’m receiving cheques all over the place.
The Government has stopped sending money directly to landlords
Back in the day, the council would send the tenants rent allowance directly to landlord’s. It gave landlord’s security and a reason to take on DSS tenants.
Unfortunately, the Government were too dumb to hold onto a good thing. The Government have now stopped paying benefits directly to landlords. This is a complete piss-take as far as i’m concerned.
Anyways, to save myself from repeating myself, you can read more about this issue here, The Difference Between DSS Tenants on Housing Benefit (HB) And Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
Council didn’t give a shit when I told them the tenant they housed wasn’t paying rent
One of my tenant’s was receiving housing benefit cheques because she was an unemployed single mum.
She fell into arrears by 2 months, so I contacted the council and explained the dilemma. They didn’t seem to give a shit; the fact that someone was receiving housing benefits and failing to pay her rent didn’t seem to phase them in the slightest. More frustratingly, due to data protection polocies they couldn’t tell me anything useful, like if she had actually received her benefits or not.
I never ended up receiving the rent, so I was left wondering what happened to the money. Additionally, from what I’m told, she is now living happily in a council house. Where is the justice?
Why should I or anyone else even bother housing DSS tenants if that’s the kind of support landlord’s get from the council? I’d rather let the government sit there scratching their balls wondering why there aren’t enough roofs to house the needy.
What a joke.
Incidentally, here’s a segment of an email I recently received from another landlord that experienced similar bullshit service from the council:
I’ve got the horriblest tenant in the world!
I rented out to ‘a desperate, friend of a friend’ and my children and I moved in with my partner. Problems started straight away with none payment of rent and Housing Benefit were a nightmare.
Housing Benefit started paying direct to me and I asked my tenant to start paying off the arrears.
She blathers on about missing payments and that the benefits people are looking into it but then still makes no attempt to pay anything.
I issued her with a Section 21 on 27 August 09 and told her to be out by 23 October – she’s still dragging her heels. The Council are worse than useless, and treat me with utter disgust because I’m making a lone parent with 3 kids homeless.
I know, let’s not focus on the actual problem (i.e. the rent-dodging asshole), let’s just emotionally blackmail the landlord.
The Council advise rogue tenants to remain in the property
To add insult to injury, the council encourage rogue tenants to completely fuck the landlord over.
When my DSS tenant fell into arrears, she was actually advised by the council to remain in the property until she had received a Section 8 – eviction notice from me.
The tenant was receiving housing benefit, but failing to pass it onto the landlord, yet the council were still advising/helping her.
Councils have a duty to provide shelter and generally prevent homelessness, this is why they instruct tenants not to vacate the property even when they receive a notice, whether it be an eviction or repossession notice.
The Council often even go as far as forcing Landlords to waste money on Court fees and also on bailiffs, even for a simple repossession. That’s because as soon as the tenant needs a new roof over their head, they then become the local authorities problem, and in a society where there is a huge housing shortage, that’s literally their worst nightmare. They’ll literally do anything to prevent the problem from falling back onto their lap, even if it means supporting and helping tenants that are swindling their housing benefit down the shitter.
It’s beyond ridiculous. It’s an absolute joke.
As far as I’m concerned the council are just trying to house as many people as possible without taking any responsibility of the aftercare which is required once a tenant has been housed. Providing shelter alone isn’t good enough.
Landlords get a real shitty deal when it comes to DSS tenants simply because they don’t always get the support they need from the council. In fact, they get zero support.
On that note, I stand firm, I won’t accept DSS tenants again. Like I said, this is nothing personal against DSS tenants; anyone can potentially be a tenant from hell, regardless of their financial circumstances. Not only is it frustrating for Landlords, but I imagine it’s a kick in the tits for those genuine claimants that are struggling to find accommodation because of how landlords are repelled by the broken system.
Has anyone else had any problems with the council regarding DSS tenants?
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.