Tory Majority Day 56: Eviction For Repairs, Lettings Agents Reaction To The Housing Benefit Question

Yesterday I wrote about how a series of circumstances had left me with one option: to contact my dodgy landlord and tell him I wasn’t moving after all.

Good mental health and self care

I did hang  over my email and phone all day on Tuesday waiting for an answer, yes, but I didn’t get one.

Then I took a sleeping pill, turned off all my electronics ( which is such a good way of stopping yourself from anxious behaviors ) and woke up yesterday with a sense of having distance between the day before and a new day starting.

Day off from worrying 

My silver surfer Dad and I had a day together planned. I got up, got dressed, got picked up and we did something totally different. Yes, we talked about it a bit but it wasn’t the only thing that we talked about, we had fun, we caught up, we gossiped and we had some food together.

It was a really good day time yesterday. I was shattered but the energy of having good company was more important to me.

Sometimes the shattered ME feeling needs to be replaced by something good. It doesn’t stop that shattered feeling but it does change my attitude towards it happening if I am doing something enjoyable at the same time. It creates a colorful memory as well and that’s good for my mental well being.

My father has a house phone and towards the afternoon I decided I’d start ringing around lettings agents to find out what they said about taking someone on Housing Benefit.

My decision to not move into a flat with my current landlord was not a decision to not move, if you see what I mean.

It was a decision to not move into one of their flats and to get away from them for good.

What the lettings agents said about renting to people on housing benefit 

Now peeps, this was the most elucidating afternoon on the phone I’ve ever spent. I will blog about this more fully but I can summarize the advice:

1. Get a guarantor. Your guarantor must not be your partner, must be in full time employment, not in their probationary period and earn 30 times your monthly rent.

2. The lettings agents will ask the landlord if they are prepared to rent to those on Housing Benefit. It’s not a blanket ‘no’ – it is really up to the landlord.

3. Rent in advance: another way around it is to provide rent in advance, usually in 6 month chunks.

4. Some lettings agents will be disability friendly and disability aware: I had some great conversations yesterday and some not-so-great conversations too.

5. YOUR personality and attitude is important: most agents said that if they say someone is nice, decent, honest and worth renting to, the landlord will be swayed by their advice.

6. You will need to find fees up front: anyone who has ever rented knows that the advance fees that includes a month’s deposit and month’s rent in advance are a sting. Couple that with agent’s fees and it’s a lot of money. I was upfront about having someone lend that money to me. It helped.

I registered with those agents who said positive, helpful things.

Notice of eviction for repair 

I had some agents that I’d registered with, my sister had offered me £1000.00 to help with fees, I’d stepped forward in making the decision in the first place – the ball was rolling!

Then I had a phone call from my landlord. In it, he said: “the thing is, we need your flat back for repairs. I don’t want to serve you with an official notice of eviction for repair and I can be flexible, but I do need the flat back in, say, 2 to 2 1/2 months.”

Now I could have remained on the phone arguing the toss here. I could have railed against it. I could have decided I was going to move into the other flat after all, but I didn’t.

I was partly expecting it.

I said that I was no doubt as disappointed as he was, that the situation had not worked out as we’d all planned. I said it was also shock receiving the financials at such short notice and although they’d offered a repayment plan, I wasn’t prepared to get into debt with them.

I said I’d had to do some hard thinking in the last 24 hours and I recognised that I needed to find somewhere else to live.

I DIDN’T say that I’d already started the ball rolling and I also didn’t say that it was a decision not to rent with them any more.

I was polite, contrite thoughtful and nice. Remember: this landlord has to give me a reference. People do things for you when you use sugar in your voice, not salt and bile.

As a result, my landlord did what I wanted and needed. He told me he was flexible about when I left the flat. This now means I’m not tied to an official 2 month notice period. If I find a flat next week – he’ll work with me to let me move next week.

Fantastic!!!

No, really, that is great news. London is a university city. During the summer the cheaper end of the rental market drains out of students. I can now take full advantage of this and jump into the gap.

Contacting Julie, my disability rights housing advisor 

Because everything was supposedly sorted, Julie, my disability housing rights advisor had faded into the background. I’ve now got back in touch and no doubt she’ll have some other views.

The one I’m expecting her to come back to me with is this: with a notice to evict, I am now about to be homeless and that changes my status with the Council. An eviction and homelessness changes my application status.

Watch this space…..

🙂 – yes, really, I’m smiling for the first time in days.

© Lindy 2015

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