Friday, 24 May 2013

Plymouth Homes and the 4 weeks rent

There is a story bouncing around about Plymouth Homes allegedly making a family pay four weeks rent on their deceased mother's flat. Much indignation about Plymouth making a profit and how bad they have been. Ok let's unpack this one.

Plymouth could have probably handled it with more care and discretion but let's look at it a little more deeply. Firstly the family is not liable for the rent. They have no agreement with Plymouth Homes. The liability is on the deceased persons estate. Unless there is money in the estate nobody is obliged to pay anything. Secondly when the mother signed the tenancy she was agreeing to its terms. It is not simply a matter of policy it is what the person agreed to. Now I cannot speak with any authority on Plymouth's practices but most Housing Associations spend considerable time explaining what the tenancy means. Often people are not that interested in hearing but we go through it all the same.

But hey, Plymouth Homes are meant to be a social housing organisation. Surely they could give a rent free period. Yes they could but there is a but. For practical purposes the only source of income Plymouth will have for managing and maintaining its stock is rent and service charge. Ensuring that rent due is collected is not profiteering, it is ensuring they have the money to continue providing services.

Is it really wrong of them to ask for income that they are legally entitled to, that the person would have known was due, so that they can continue to provide affordable good quality housing to those in need? It is a sad truth that in older people's housing many tenancies end with the tenant's death. It is not an exception.

As is said they seem to have  handled it poorly, but they are not the grasping bad guys some have tried to suggest.