Avoiding Eviction

Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

No doubt, this week landlords have received notification from their local housing benefit office concerning the caps to be enforced on new tenancies as from the beginning of this month. While some existing private sector tenants have received sketchy (at best) information from local authority branches that they may receive a reduction in housing benefit at some point in the future.

A majority of tenants claiming housing benefit are still unaware that come next January, they will not be able to afford the full amount of monthly rent and are in the mindset that the local authority are sorting it out. The distinct lack of communication between local authorities and tenants, will leave little time for tenants to arrange alternative housing should the landlord reject incentives to reduce rents to the 30th Percentile rate.

Landlords may well have to decide sooner rather than later if they are prepared to reduce rents for housing benefit claimants so as to give enough notice to tenants to decide if firstly they can top-up the difference or if indeed they will need to be re-housed. If left until the last minute, tenant eviction, rent arrears and a whole lot of misery on both sides will ensue.

Tenants need to ask their landlords NOW if they will accept the lesser rent resulting from January’s caps or if they should begin the search for alternative housing. Claimants with schoolchildren will also need to arrange new schools.

Landlords and tenants can get further information on housing benefit rent rates by clicking here or alternatively, by contacting their local housing benefits office. Tenants, who do face eviction due to the caps and cannot find alternative accommodation should contact their homelessness unit, through their local council.

Under the ‘Homelessness Act 2002’ local authorities have a responsibility to find accommodation for people who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own, especially when children are involved.

The Act:

requires housing authorities to take a more strategic, multi-agency approach to the prevention of homelessness and the provision of accommodation for homeless people;

ensures that everyone accepted by housing authorities as eligible, unintentionally homeless and in priority need must be provided with suitable accommodation until they obtain a settled housing solution;

allows housing authorities greater flexibility to assist non-priority homeless households, principally through a new power for housing authorities to secure accommodation for such households where they have scope to do so;

and facilitates lettings policies which offer more choice to homeless people and others in housing need with the aim of helping to create sustainable communities, tackle social exclusion and make better use of the national housing stock.