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York couple's house letting ‘nightmare’
A COUPLE claim they went through an “absolute nightmare” after they let out a York property through a council lettings agency.
Gemma and Dean Long say they expected a trouble-free tenancy at the house in Foxwood, after being reassured by the “ethical” agency Yorhome that it ensured properties were “let as quickly, efficiently and trouble free as possible”.
Instead, they say their tenants paid no rent, initially leaving them with no income to pay the mortgage and facing a large legal bill to get the tenants evicted.
After the tenants eventually left, they found the house in Spurr Court had been “trashed”, with furniture upside down, food on the walls, used cigarettes strewn around, cupboards damaged, carpets with cigarette burn marks and junk scattered in the garden.
Mrs Long, of Clifton, said City of York Council eventually agreed – as a “goodwill gesture” and after a lengthy wrangle – to pay the unpaid rent, fund the eviction court action and clean up the property, but said their experiences had been hugely stressful and upsetting.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” she said. “I would never, ever use Yorhome again to let our property or recommend it to any other landlord.”
She said she and her husband had bought the property last summer as a long-term investment to benefit their two children, aged seven and ten, and decided to rent it out to pay their buy-to-let mortgage.
They decided to use YorHome after seeing on its website that it was a “new option for landlords to let their property using an ethical, non profit making, socially responsible agency”, and would arrange everything for them.
Mrs Long said they were told their unemployed tenants’ rent would be paid from housing benefit, but they discovered in January that the tenants were in serious arrears of rent.
She said the agency said then that it did not offer a guarantee that tenants had provided proofs of income to claim housing benefit before they signed up to a property.
She claimed a council official also admitted people were put in such properties who were too high a risk to be given a council property.
She said: “This is not something they tell landlords, obviously.”
YorHome ‘moved quickly on claim’
CITY of York Council confirmed there were problems with a housing benefit claim from the Longs’ tenants, which resulted in non-payment of rent, but said the YorHome team dealt with this as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Steve Waddington, assistant director for housing, said the the YorHome agreement was clear that the council did not guarantee tenants’ rent for landlords.
“However, we do cover the first four weeks ‘up-front’ costs which tenants pay to landlords,” he said.
“A full investigation of the landlords’ complaints was carried out and a procedural error by the YorHome team was identified in relation to the processing of the tenants’ application.
“The team moved to rectify this immediately and aims at all times to rapidly address any issues arising for both tenants and landlords. The council can not however ‘guarantee a trouble-free’ tenancy.
“The complaint has been, in part, upheld and the complainants have been advised of their next steps.”
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