Those of you watching Channel 4 on Wednesday night would have seen my Lettings Manager, Joe, featured on “Britain’s Benefit Tenants”. The show followed Joe as he assisted a Landlord who had approached us to take on a property and help them through the eviction process as their tenant had racked up over £3000 in rent arrears.
Over the past year situations like this have been on the rise, and my agency, Brentwood Lettings, are fast becoming the local go-to choice for landlords who are struggling with unresponsive tenants. Having worked in the area for over 15 years, we understand both the current market and the on the ground issues facing benefit tenants, making us best placed to be that vital link between landlords and struggling tenants.
The show on Wednesday treated viewers to a real nightmare scenario. The tenant had been in the property for 6 months when the landlord approached us, they had only paid 1 months rent and had refused to take calls or respond to letters. So we took the property on for the landlord. Upon evicting the tenant and finally gaining entry to the property we found the yard piled high with rubbish, the interior walls scrawled upon, the kitchen floor wrecked and various other repairs needing doing. The bill, around £7000
Coincidentally, this nightmare tenant was in receipt of benefits.
The scare stories make great TV, and images like this are what put landlords off accepting benefits tenants into their properties.
On a day to day basis we are dealing with tenants in receipt of all kinds of benefits, the extremes are not the norm, but having a good agent on board from day 1 can help prevent those nightmares ever becoming as extreme as the example we showed on Channel 4 on Wednesday evening.
In M9 some people receive benefits and some don’t, a persons income, or lack thereof does not dictate how they respect or treat a property. This tenant, as the show highlighted, was in receipt of benefits. But her actions are not representative of every tenant who receives benefits and the key to avoiding this situation is due diligence. In this instance the Landlord had sourced their own tenant, we’re looking after their own management and found themselves unstuck, so came to us for help. As an agent one of the most important things we do for our landlords is select the Right tenant for their property from the outset, we do our checks, we conduct our references, we get home owning guarantors to mitigate risk and we work hard to help avoid arrears and gaps in income.
During the show viewers got to meet another of our tenants, who was also in receipt of benefits and was a model tenant. We are grateful that Channel 4 allowed us to show the other side of the coin and prove that benefits tenants can not all be tarred with the same brush.
In M9 only 25%, 1 in 4, people own their own home, almost 50% rent from private landlords and the remaining 25% rent from social landlords. Meaning, statistically that at least 38% of private renting tenants in Moston, Harpurhey and Blackley are in receipt of some kind of benefits.
We work really hard to find the right tenants for all of the properties that we manage, and we work with tenants to ensure they manage to keep on top of all of their commitments, this work helps our landlords benefit from peace of mind knowing that their agent is experienced in all aspects of property management, both good and bad.
Soon the full episode (Season 2 episode 3) will be available on the Channel 4 website and on my lettings agency website for you to view.
I write for M9 Property News Online, which has an extensive library of articles like this one, where I talk about what is happening in the Blackley, Moston and Harpurhey property markets, what our local trends are and whats hot and whats not in terms of property in North Manchester and everything else that is important to know as a landlord. Please visit the M9 Property Blog at www.M9.propertynews.online