Landlord Action talks to Crisis and Shelter

In it together: Landlord Action talks to Crisis and Shelter.

Recently, Landlord Action founder, Paul Shamplina met with two leading homeless charities, Crisis and Shelter. Here is what he found…

As the landlords’ friend, you know we at Landlord Action are always looking at ways to protect landlords and make the rental sector a safer and fairer place for all. Sometimes, in order to keep evolving and be in a position to make suggestions which will effect change, we have to look at the bigger picture.

Without tenants, landlords wouldn’t exist. Without landlords, thousands more people would be homeless.  So, we’re always keen to “talk to the other side” and see how we can all work together to create a more harmonious and cooperative private rental sector.

Crisis

I was invited to meet Crisis along with the Chris Norris, Head of Policy at NLA (National Landlords Association) and David Smith, Policy Director for RLA (Residential Landlords Association). We were asked to share our thoughts on a new “Access Scheme” campaign which Crisis is launching, appealing to landlords in the PRS who would consider renting their properties to a homeless person.

The idea of the project is to help tenants and landlords navigate finding, setting up and sustaining a tenancy – from quality checks to financial issues including deposits and benefits. Most importantly they help develop relationships between landlords and tenants, ensuring tenancies are sustained.

This has the potential to be a really positive campaign, supporting both homelessness and providing landlords, who opt to participate in the scheme, with peace of mind that their tenant is being fully supported and rent will be paid on time.

A recently conducted survey of 950 landlords found that 39% would rent to housing benefit tenants and 11% would rent to a homeless person. I believe, with greater education and reassurance, these numbers could be vastly increased.  We know that finding willing participants is going to be one of Crisis’ biggest stumbling blocks with this campaign.  They’re up against a lack of housing stock, landlords’ perception of renting to a homeless person and fear of not receiving rent, as well as the fact that many landlords are achieving high rents from private tenants, so may not consider social tenants.

However, landlords should contemplate the wider benefits and peace of mind that Crisis’ Access Scheme can offer; guaranteed rent, longevity in a tenancy, opportunity to help a homeless person get back on their feet.

Shelter

In my second meeting last week, I invited two representative from Shelter to visit the Landlord Action offices in North London.  We all agreed that more engagement between different micro-markets with in the PRS is really important. Conflicting views can often cast undue negativity.

We have offered to meet and engage with Shelter’s advice line team so they not only understand the tenants’ needs, but also have a greater insight into landlords’ plights, which we deal with on a daily basis. We’re also going to write blogs for them, offering our insight into the market and, where possible, advice. The whole industry wants to root out rogue landlords and tenants, so in order to do this we must work together to understand each other’s stand points and educate our own so that each understand their level of responsibility.

It’s good to talk.

Precise Treatment Reduces Pain

Detail needs experts. Expert time is worth it when it saves you a costly mistake. Main objective: Get the property back. Best action: Very precise treatment.

Serving a notice is actually the most important part of the possession process.

It isn’t complicated but one tiny error can cause dreadful problems.

That’s why we say, don’t DIY and don’t use internet amateurs. It’s not worth it.

1. Compliance Errors
If the tenant doesn’t leave at Step1, the notice had better be valid. Because then it has to go to court. Any little error can get a case thrown out. And you have to start all over again.

2. Attempting Short-Cuts.
In an effort to be quick, some internet services aimed at landlords are using short-cuts around the process. But if the tenant doesn’t leave (50%) these practices can backfire at court and the case thrown out.

3. Trying to Save Pennies.
Internet services have mushroomed and landlords can expect to get what they pay for. To get the process done PROPERLY it takes a certain amount of time for an expert to look over a file and be accurate. Our fees cover that expert time.

Chasing courts for dates, arranging advocates and preparing court papers is time consuming. Especially if you’ve never done it before.

Some landlord and agents have served notices themselves. They believed they were saving a few pounds but it often ended up costing them more.

If you lose a claim, the court can order you to pay the tenant’s defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Our in-house Solicitors are there to get your property back as fast as they can. And we protect landlords and agents from themselves.

As experts, we know that in the rush to get things done, errors can happen. And those errors can can come back later to mess up your case – and the whole process has to start again.

You can speed things up – give us accurate information quickly. Help us to help you.

There are services on the web who will prepare papers BUT they get you to pay the court-fee separately and get you to sign the court papers – so in fact they don’t represent you!

If your notice (at Step1) wasn’t drafted or served correctly you risk wasting your court fees and losing a whole lot of time because of a small error.

We won’t let your case anywhere near a court until we have checked every little detail. To make sure you don’t waste time or money, at Step-2 we first only charge part of the fee.

If your notice is fine, then you just pay the balance of the fee and we issue the claim. If there is a problem with your notice or paperwork, we will advise you what to do next.

Courts take the view that possession proceedings can make someone homeless. So they are very careful. If there’s any error in the notice, they throw the case out. It’s the process. Get it right or lose.

If the notice is invalid, you have to start all over again. The weeks or months you’ve waited are wasted. If there were rent arrears, there are now more.

If there weren’t rent arrears, they might now start. More fees. More lost rent. And still no possession. Tenants can be alerted to making a counter-claim.

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