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Government 'makes it hard for claimants and homeless to privately rent'

Government policy is making it harder than ever for benefits claimants and the homeless to rent homes, according to a new report. 


The Residential Landlords Association has been working with Sheffield Hallam University as part of an investigation into access to the private rental sector by the homeless and those on benefits.



The RLA surveyed 949 landlords wwith the findings showing that despite a significant expansion of the private rental sector in recent years only 20% per cent of landlords are willing to let to homeless people – with the majority of those responding blaming government policy.


No fewer than 68 per cent said the direct payment of housing benefit to the tenant was making them less willing to rent to benefit claimants, for fear tenants would fall into arrears.


A similar proportion of those currently renting to these tenants said they were only doing so on the basis that housing benefit was paid direct to them.

Recent taxation changes and increased regulation - such as the Right To Rent immigration checks - also limited landlords’ willingness to rent to HB claimants and to homeless people, the RLA says.

Access costs emerged as a key barrier preventing homeless people from using the private rented sector. The association says the requirement for a deposit alone was often enough to prevent access to a private rented tenancy, but agent fees and advance rent were also significant barriers.

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    Maybe it's not just the landlords but lenders are not always happy to have HB tenants in occupation for all the same reasons landlords see as a possible future problem with rent payments.

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    Sadly this is a startling reality, I work for a homeless charity and my role is to help people find settled accommodation.
    Even though we supply deposit and first month rent and have an agreement with our local council to pay landlords HB directly, I find it almost impossible for local landlords to accept homeless people just because they are on benefits

    Mike Georgeson

    Hi Julie,
    We are launching a new online rental platform that brings in a 'Tenant Passport' that shows future landlords the rental history of prospective tenants.
    This, obviously, won't be any good for homeless people but is there any other way we could provide something like this for the homeless?

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    My building society won't allow me to take housing benefits claimants and my insurance company charges double the premiums. As an experienced landlord I find this immensely patronising. I would prefer to take responsibility for choosing my tenants on my own criteria and assess them as individuals. But I do think there is a massive issue when it comes to universal credit. Its mismanagement by government bodies is placing honest tenants in an impossible situation.

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    Mike Georgeson,
    thank you for your comment, i really dont know what the answer is for assisting homeless people move forward. Most of the problem is the fact that when landlords serve S21, local councils will tell them to stay put until bailiffs arrive, this means that tenants then incur the court costs, which they cant pay as their income in limited
    its a vicious circle which i am unsure how we can fix

  • Carla Keegans

    Yes it is unfortunately a growing and serious problem. We assist homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, by working with good landlords that trust us in what we're doing based on our unique qualifications and experience. We have been fortunate to receive some grant funding too from the Virgin Money Foundations to help us in this work in the Redcar and Cleveland area.

    FYI there is a private members bill going through parliament, in partnership with the charity Crisis, that will place more duty on councils to take preventative action before eviction notices expire - this is something we totally agree with. That's because private tenancy evictions are the biggest cause of homelessness nationally now, and many councils do need to do more. However, the fundamental lack of housing supply in this country is still a root cause, combined with unprecedented benefit cuts.


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