Tenant's separation

Hi all.
I am in a situation I’ve never been before.
2 months ago I’ve rented out a 2 bedroom house to a family of 4 ( parents + 2 children 9 and 10 years old). I rented the house on a one year AST.
Today she called me to say that they had issues and now no longer live together.
She asked me to change the tenancy agreement, so just she is on it, in order to be able to claim universal credit and pay me that way. Otherwise she wouldn’t be able to pay the rent.
Also as I am using open rent’s collection service, the universal credit money would come to her first and then she will pass them to me.
What is the best course of action here?
I never let a property to benefit recipients before.
I feel like evicting, but as it is an early stage in the tenancy and she is up to date with her rent so far, this migth not be the best option.
Please advise. Thank you.


I NEVER rent to a reipient of benefit as the money goes first to them.

Neither do I.
What can I do in this case though?
She wants the tenancy agreement changed, so she can claim benefits.
Or perhaps I should start an eviction procedure.
Can I use section 21? They are in their 3th month of a 12 months AST.

In my area it takes 12 weeks for a housing claim to go thru( tho the local authority Sefton will lie and say it is less). so if she has no savings you will have to wait anyway … was there a guarrantor? I am no legal eagle but dont you have to give 2 months notice to her if evicting.? If you give a new lease, can she get a guarrantor?Its your choice

You can’t evict on Sect 21 before the tenth month, so they can legally move after the 12th month, unless you have break clause that permits the tenant to leave earlier.
Despite the bitter experience of other landlords, and myself now looming, take your landlord hat off and put on a compassionate and non-legal hat: what can you mutually agree on in the interim:

  • lower rent (better than none), or as I am doing for now, rent payable is the same and my tenant is due to refund me the difference between what she pays and the payable amount at a later date to be agreed if she remains in the country
  • somehow pursue the other tenant, who has left, to pay the difference as they are still bound by the tenancy agreement. I would like to know how, as the same has happened to me!
  • wait and see, because the separated partner, if married, is bound by law to pay the remaining tenant a Child Maintenance Allowance (by Child Support Agency, CSA?) of around 15% of their income for the first child, and perhaps a little more because there are two. It may take a little while if they resist this, as then their partner has to pursue the CSA to get it deducted directly from their partner’s wages by their employer, if they are employed by someone else. This does not apply in my case.
  • agree a basis of eviction, however fictional or real, that you both agree to, so an eviction notice can be issued , say a Sect 8 for failure to pay rent, because in my area the council will do nothing about re-housing until one is issued.
    In other words, be considerate, be humane, but be careful too if you are dependant on this income.
    Good luck

Hi Colin,
There’s no guarantor.
Thank you for the info and advices.

Hi John,

Thank you for your great information and advices given.
I’ll probably wait for few days and see how their situation unfold.
I am not fond of changing the tenancy agreement and I probably won’t.
I’ll probably try to persuade them somehow to stay together because I can not change the tenancy agreement.
If not I’ll try to evict her under section 8 ( with her consent and cooperation if possible) in order for the council to rehouse her and the children.
There are a lot of options here as you pointed, just have to be very careful and work with the tenant for the best solution.

Glad I can help in these difficult times. John

Hi John
Just because the prospective tenant is about to claim UC does not mean she will not pay you. I have several properties and have one that is tenanted to a UC claimant. She pays like a dream. Assess the person and her ability to pay. Don’t assume that she will not pay the rent simply because she is on benefits. Would she want to be turfed out with two young children for non-payment? I doubt it. My experience is the opposite.


You can ask your tenant to have direct payment to landlord,I have mine sent to my landlord I have done for 9 years been there Tennant

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Hi David,
I think the UC is not paid in advance but after a month of the tenant living in the property.
Am I correct?

Yes its a month in arrears

This is a difficult one …
section 21 is out of the question as your only into the primary letting period of your tenancy agreement. So you need a section 8 notice which means your unable to evict without a valid reason and the validity of that reason is decided by a judge. Should your tenant choose to take you to court.! However I do believe that if you wanted to sell the property or move into it yourself that’s a good enough reason for an approved eviction or the tenant fell into rent arrears.

Housing benefit is paid on a different basis than the current rent - in arrears, and every four weeks instead of every month. In my area, for a three bedroom property the maximum they will pay is £500 per month, so we get £455 every four weeks. My first question would be, has she been a good tenant so far?

They can sign so that the money comes direct to you, if there is a shortfall I think it is fair to ask them where the extra money will come from each month. You need to wait two months before starting eviction anyway for non-payment of rent. Ask her to tell Housing Benefit office that they are authorised to speak to you about the case so you have them telling you how long it will take to come through and how much they will pay - I had a case with tenants saying that they were stuck in the process etc, and it turned out they had never even applied.

Good tenants don’t necessarily go bad because they are receiving benefits.

Hi Alex.
I can’t really say if she was good because they moved to the house only 2 months ago.
I told her today that I don’t like the idea and I don’t want to deal with benefits.
She insisted that nothing will change for me and I will be getting my rent up front as usually.
I will probably do it, because the other option is section 8 and possibly 4-5 months without rent untill I have new tenants.
She doesn’t want to go down this road, so I hope that she will comply.

I agree with you. Not all benefit claimants are bad tenants. Ask fo it to be paid directly to the land lord.

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You need to work with this tenant and establish from the start that she is willing and does consent to you receiving her UC (Local Housing Allowance ) directly (In an email possibly. The first step is for her to apply for UC and confirm on her application her consent. You would then need to contact UC by completing a Form UC47, it is common knowledge that the DWP will not consider your application unless the tenant is 2 months in arrears or have past challenges with their payments. This is not always true. You need to confirm that you have granted the tenancy based solely on the fact that the tenant consented that you receive their housing allowance directly. The tenant will need to pay the top up payments which does not appear to be a problem from your story.

You also need to get in touch with your buildings insurance to confirm the changes in circumstances of your tenant as your policy may well be invalidated by the fact that she is gong to be receiving benefit. There are other companies that offer buildings insurance for this category. Good luck

I know this sounds cynical, sorry!, but … “they had issues and now no longer live together”. - seems very convenient so soon after Tenancy commenced. Has she told you where husband is now living - and his current living arrangements? (since he’s still jointly and severally liable). Is he actually her husband - or brother/in-law? Could this have been “pre-rranged” to give her a quicker/betttter chance of getting a private rental, without a guarantor, rather than not-so-good social housing? Just a thought. She/they have now put you under undue pressure and probably know they hold all the cards. Choosing to ‘leave’ the property - though probably not hs wife long term, doesn’t make him any less liable to fulfil rental payments.
Hush my mouth!


Sue 6 you have made a very good point

Hi Dimitar,
In your interests, I’d just be very wary - you don’t know her well but are (understandably, as a decent landlord) readily giving her the benefit of the doubt, since there are kids involved.
No couple would take on the ‘burden’ of a new 12 mth. tenancy when they’re not getting on.
Think I’d wanna’ check hubby out a bit more - he’s still gonna’ be seeing his kids! You’ve only got her verbal say so on this. Why have you not insisted that HE must notify you himself IN WRITING, with his signature, that he’s moved out and that he’s seeking to break the Agreement - let alone that he hasn’t attempted to discuss ongoing rental payments with you? What if he turned around after you’ve agreed a new sole AST with her during primary period - and claimed against you, after “finding out” that you’ve “reneged” on a lawful agreement?
As it stands, she can’t afford the rent on her own and is relying on your soft nature to let her stay. You wouldn’t have taken her on at the outset if she’d have approached you as a single parent with 2 children and said she couldn’t afford the rent at that point.
Surely you’re not committed to/obliged to continue the original 12 mth. tenancy when the “legal entity” of the occupancy has (purportedly) changed? Down to them; THEY should give notice to quit early - and pay you whatever you lose out on until you find a new suitable tenant. I’m not qualified to give you legal advice. Are you a member of any Landlord association? If not, I’d pay to join, say, the NRLA and take advice first. Sorry I’m sounding negative - but THEY’VE not been up front with you at all - HE is part of the AST agreement too and needs to talk to you.