Before anyone gets firmly on my tits about this, let me just clarify, this is a follow on article from The Positives Of DSS Tenants. So please, no angry hippies or DSS tenants start protesting, this is just a simple flip of the coin.
But I must confess, this list is longer than the pro-DSS tenants’ article! My bad.
1. DSS Tenants have financial difficulties
Whatever the case may be, whether we’re talking about genuinely sincere and deserving claimants, or piss-taking parasites that prefer to leech off the Government than make a real effort of climbing out of the system, all DSS tenants are shackled by financial restraints. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be claimants. That instantly makes them ‘high-risk’
Being a landlord is about managing risk, but more importantly, minimizing risk. And since this is a business based on cash, we need to do whatever we can to keep the cash flowing, and that’s easier to do when you’re dealing with tenants that don’t have financial restraints. But for a better example, we can use banks and their policy for loaning. Would a bank give a loan to someone on DSS? Very unlikely. Why? Because it’s unlikely they’ll have the means to make the repayments.
Why should landlords think any differently than banks? They really shouldn’t. Fundamentally, we’re all talking about exchanging commodities.
2. Landlords no longer receive rent directly
At one time, DSS tenants were sought after by Landlords because the council would pay the rent directly to the Landlord. Unfortunately, that changed a few years ago, consequently tenants now directly receive rent. The change occurred to encourage the tenants to become more responsible with money.
Historically, many DSS tenants caused a lot of anti-social problems for Landlords, but we tolerated it because rent was sent directly into our pockets. But since tenants have been responsible for their own allowance, there’s been a predictable rise in tenants failing to pass on the rent, and presumably spending the money on other things.
The only real security and compelling reason landlords had to accept DSS tenants is no longer there. Or at least, not as easily accessible. There are certain circumstances whereby it’s still possible for the landlord to receive payments directly, but it’s not a ‘default’ arrangement anymore. It needs to be arranged with the claimant and council, and from what I’m told, it’s ‘possible’
However, I have no idea when or how it becomes a viable option, and my guess is that each council will have their own set of policies on the matter.
3. Rent from a DSS tenant is NOT Guaranteed
Following up from my previous point, and adjoining with some of my upcoming points…
I’ve heard many people claiming that rent is guaranteed when DSS tenants setup direct payments to landlords. That’s nothing more than a vicious rumour. Of course, it’s usually tenants on Housing Benefit (HB) that are spreading the rumour in order to sway landlords into thinking DSS tenants do have their perks.
I agree, taking on DSS tenants do have their [extremely limited] perks, however, saying that “rent is guaranteed” is total bullshit.
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. 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.
4. DSS tenants need to cover a shortfall
DSS tenants will typically need to cover a shortfall each month. For example, if the tenant’s rent is £500pcm, they may receive an allowance of £400 per month. In that case, the tenant will need to cover a shortfall of £100. Bearing in mind, a lot of DSS tenants aren’t working, so it’s important to recognise that the benefits alone may not be enough.
I’ve had a tenant in the past that had to pay £150 in shortfalls. It was often late, and frequently required constant chasing. This may seem trivial, but believe me, having to keep track of multiple payments for the same tenancy every month is bloody annoying.
5. Difficult to get Landlord Rental Insurance
Rent Guarantee Insurance (RGI) is always a useful policy to have in place, especially if you’re not 100% sure of your tenants credibility.
If your tenant fails to pay rent, your rental insurance company will cover the costs. However, many insurance companies won’t insure your rent if you have a DSS tenant. And if they’re willing to, they may ask for a higher premium than a private tenant.
If insurers are refusing to insure DSS tenants, or demand a higher premium to do so, you kind of have to put the dots together and realise that their figures show high claims when DSS tenants are involved. If that wasn’t the case, they’d happily insure.
These insurance companies aren’t fools, so it’s safe to follow their lead.
6. The Council are useless
I’ve already raged about how useless the council are when problems occur with DSS Tenants so I won’t drag on about it too much. Basically, on various occasions throughout my involvement with DSS tenants, I’ve needed to contact the council in order to resolve outstanding issues. It goes without saying that they have been less than helpful and outrageously rude. You can read a more in-depth discussion on how the council are rubbish when it comes to providing Landlords with support.
For a quick summary;
- The council don’t give a shit when tenant’s don’t pay rent (even though they are giving them an allowance)
- They actively screw landlords over when the tenant falls into arrears by telling them to remain in the property until they can be legally evicted (e.g. after they have fallen 2 months in arrears)
- They randomly start and stop providing benefits to the tenants, and give no fair warning to the landlord. Then the landlord is effectively left with a tenant that has no income.
7. Even Letting Agents refuse to deal with DSS tenants
A letting agents job is to find suitable tenants for their landlords’ as quickly as possible. If they don’t find tenants, they don’t get paid, it’s that simple. So it must say something about DSS tenants if more and more letting agents refuse to deal with them.
When a letting agent prolongs filling in vacant properties by denying a certain type of tenant, alarm bells should ring. I’m sure letting agents have dealt with DSS tenants at one point, and on the back of their experiences, they’re now refusing…
8. Claimant allowances can randomly change
I’ve been in the situation where my DSS tenant’s allowance randomly changed overnight. I didn’t get any warning from the local housing association, no notifications, just an unexpected phonecall from my tenant informing me rent would be short this coming month because their allowance had been slashed, and there was nothing they could do about it.
For several months she was receiving £400pcm, the next month it had been slashed down to £300 for some reason that will never be disclosed to me. It’s not even uncommon for claimants to completely lose their housing benefits overnight.
You’d think the landlord would be entitled to a warning from the council, but apparently discussing their clients’ personal finances is a breach of data protection regulations. Do me a favour, seriously! Meanwhile. I’m left with a tenant that can’t afford the rent.
Most landlords take on DSS tenants on the basis that they are receiving regular financial support, and the council know that.
9. Claimants receive their benefits every 4 weeks
You’d think the council would want to make it easy for DSS tenants to receive their benefits and pay their rent on time. They don’t, which makes it a terrible proposition for landlords.
The council pay every 4 weeks instead of per calendar month (which is when rent is typically due). This may sound like another trivial issue, but it can get terribly messy when enough months have passed and your tenant starts receiving rent on the 15th of every month and rent is due on the 1st. You’ll soon find that the tenant has spent the allowance long before rent is due.
Anyone else got anything to add? If so, blurt your stuff…
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 construed as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.