Who here likes reading terms and conditions?
I do. They’re why I got a free retest a week or so after my failed MOT. They’re why I have an unlimited data mobile contract for less than the cost of three pints. Quite often, if you bother to read them, lengthy terms and conditions documents can be your best friend.
But sometimes, they’re just too lengthy, and sometimes, you just can’t be bothered.
Did you know that by uploading your photos to certain social media sites, you give them the right to use your pics commercially? Well you should do. After all you agreed to the terms and conditions. Likewise, you give console manufacturers the right to remotely and permanently disable your system if you use it in ways they don’t approve.
And, perhaps more relevantly, your mortgage company can dictate to whom you let your property, and punish you if you fail to comply.
We’re not talking about letting out to tenants when you have a residential mortgage. That’s so obvious it doesn’t even need small print. It’s there on the cover of the document in a 36 point font.
No, we’re talking about the clause in most buy-to-let mortgages which prohibit the property owner from letting to tenants in receipt of DSS payments.
The mortgage companies rationale is flawless. DSS tenants are more likely to fall behind in rent, more likely to trash the property, and are subject to rent clawbacks from the local authority. We’ve covered this before, and the bottom line is that these factors all make it more likely that you, as a landlord, will undergo financial hardship. There is an inflated likelihood that you will fall behind on your mortgage payments.
From the bank’s point of view, you’re an increased risk. That’s why they write a no DSS clause into the terms and conditions.
Naturally, most people don’t read the T & C documents, which is why we came across this story in which a beastly bank is forcing a luckless landlord to make the chilling choice of turfing out her tenant, or… terminate her mortgage.
She will also need to pay the early repayment charges – as also specified in her Terms and Conditions.
The Belfast woman is quoted as saying, “I was angry at the fact that another human being could ask me to kick out another human being. It was very black and white… they don’t think about that person, you’re just an anonymised piece of data… that’s what hurt me, that’s not fair.”
Well… yes. My credit card company is also unforgiving when I breach their terms and conditions. But at least I know when I’m doing it – because I read the damned documents.
To be fair on the landlord, she was advised to take out the mortgage by a third party advisor, so they should shoulder at least some of the blame.
And there’s also the fact that refusing to let to DSS claimants can lead to a claim of discrimination.
Even so, if you don’t read the documents and later discover that your Nintendo 3DS doesn’t work, Instagram has sold your images to a porn network, and your tenant is now homeless, you have nobody to blame but yourself.