Only two out of every 10 private rental sector landlords say they are willing to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit, according to latest research from the National Landlords Association.
It shows that the proportion of landlords who say they are willing to let their property to housing benefit claimants has fallen significantly from 34 per cent record at the start of 2013.
The research, taken from the NLA’s Quarterly Landlord Panel, also shows that two in three landlords who let to housing benefit recipients say they have fallen behind on rental payments in the last 12 months.
The NLA has already provided written evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, outlining some of the major problems the new system is causing landlords, and why so many are shying away from accepting Universal Credit tenants.
It says these include the difficulty of communicating and interacting with the Universal Credit administration system, the time and effort it takes to secure direct payment of the housing element of Universal Credit to the landlord, and the controversial six week waiting period causing tenants to be two months in rent arrears by the time of the first payment.
Now the NLA is calling on the government to pause the national roll-out of its Universal Credit project and to lift the current freeze on housing benefit rates.
“Underlying all the problems with Universal Credit is the freeze on housing benefit rates, which means that the housing element of Universal Credit is simply insufficient for many tenants to be able to cover their rent” explains Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive.
“The decline in social housing means that some of the most vulnerable in society can only turn to the private rented sector. We have long called for the freeze to be scrapped as it creates a barrier that prevents claimants from securing the housing they need” he adds.
“If the government is serious about helping then it needs to press pause on the roll out of Universal Credit, and fix its underlying problems. Otherwise more and more people will find themselves homeless as the proportion of landlords who consider themselves able to house those who need it most will keep on falling.”