Thursday, 2 May 2013

Genesis and the Benefits Cap

Very strange story about a letter Genesis Housing sent to its tenants in Haringey. From a housing angle to story is so screwy I was looking for the punch line to the joke. Ok for the uninitiated. The Government is introducing a benefits cap of £26k per year including rent. This measure is being trialled in a number of areas including Haringey where Genesis has stock.
What has blown up is that it appears somebody at Genesis decided to send what is being described as an 'eviction notice' to its tenants. This letter warms them that they will 'take action to terminate our lease.' if they do not come up with a defence the court can evict in 14 days....
Now a few basics. The use of language is odd. The term lease is not normally used for social housings lettings. It would be the tenancy. Secondly we would issue a notice of seeking possession and ask the court for possession order, not an eviction notice. To gain possession we would require grounds, such as significant rent arrears, it cannot be a preemptive strike.
So whoever wrote this letter seems to have a very individual take on housing law.
The strangeness continued with Genesis initially denying it had sent the letter then trying to explain it away. But Genesis will have a trained communications team and access to the best advice available, as well as having expert staff of its own. It is unbelievable that this was some corporately sanctioned approach. So How did this letter go out? This is my guess what happened. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and today there is some very junior member of staff who is In the deep doodoo. An Income Officer's patch will typically be 1000 units, probably a number akin to the stock they have in Haringey. Concerned about the impact that the cap will have on their arrears figures they have decided to use initiative. A mail merge later and the deed is done. Sadly their enthusiasm is not matched by either their wisdom or competence. The result, egg on the face for Genesis in the national press and a whole batch of tenants needlessly worried.
There but for the grace of God......