Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny
Rogue landlords are thankfully few and far between, however there are still some that operate, tarnishing the reputations of the majority.
This week, researchers at Legal 4 Landlords were alerted on the unethical principle of ‘vocal rent increases’ that has been placed on tenants, especially those receiving LHA payments. One landlord in the North West informed their tenant that the rent on the property had been raised and that arrears had accumulated, as the rise in rent would be backdated from December 2010. However the landlord had not informed the tenant at any point about rent increases until this week. The landlord’s excuse was that she forgot to tell the tenant.
This kind of behaviour, would for obvious reasons not stand up legally in court. There was no change or amendment to the tenancy and nothing in writing to validate the landlord’s claim. The tenant had not received a rent statement in the last 6 months from the landlord but had arranged that LHA payments be paid direct to her landlord as she had fallen into difficulties with a previous landlord.
The tenant however feels she must pay any rent rises issued by the landlord, regardless of the legality as she has lived at the property on a 6 month AST and fears that if she does not comply with her landlord, she will be issued with a Notice 21 and evicted. Fearing she cannot get another property or left victim to a bad reference from her landlord, she is in somewhat of a quandary. With two children, she is living in a one-bedroom flat, which suffers from damp and mould in a rundown, unpopular area where one bedroom properties like this tend to go for £350-£380 per month. She is being charged £580.
Not many landlords realise that the amount of housing benefit a claimant receives is based on their income, their circumstances and the number of dependants they are responsible for, not the property they rent. It is exactly this flaw, which is probably one of the factors that has lead to the government capping benefits. Under the old system, we had fair rents and mostly it ran quite smoothly.
Spokesman for the landlord legal network, Sim Sekhon advises landlords with little knowledge of the sector to protect themselves under the umbrella of a professional letting agent who will not only supply stable tenants but who works within a legal and ethical framework.
Letting agents minimize much of the rogue behaviour in the private rented sector by firstly setting market rents and secondly, professionally vetting tenants, giving landlords a sense of credibility and avoiding a Rackman-esque identity. With a national infrastructure, Legal 4 Landlords works alongside letting agents through their affiliate services, which offer agents the same umbrella that they offer independent landlords and as a matter of course regularly follow market trends and adapt to new emerging ones.
To find out more about the L4L affiliate services visit their affiliate scheme