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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

'No DSS' - momentum building to end bias against benefit tenants

Momentum is building in the campaign to end ‘No DSS’ discrimination against private rental sector tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

Late last week the government revealed that it was clamping down on any apparent bias by agents and landlords against tenants receiving benefits.

Now one of the largest buy to let lenders, NatWest, says it’s responding to lobbying by - amongst others - Shelter and the Residential Landlords Association in a bid to relax its lending policy to buy to let investors who house benefit tenants. 

John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association, says: “We warmly welcome today’s announcement from NatWest. Around 20 per cent of all private sector tenants are in receipt of benefits and we need to do all we can to support them to find the homes they need. NatWest’s decision will make it easier for landlords to rent to benefit claimants, and agree long term tenancies where suitable. We urge other lenders to follow this lead.”

NatWest’s changes will affect new and existing landlords with fewer than 10 properties.

The bank has also decided to extend the maximum length of time of assured shorthold tenancy from 12 months to 36 months, which allows landlords to offer tenants the security of longer tenancies.

The policy change will apply with immediate effect to both new and existing customers and will apply to NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank.

Speaking about the changes, Ian McLaughlin, managing director of Home Buying & Ownership at NatWest, says: “I am pleased that we are introducing these changes and extending our policy to support smaller landlords in this segment of the market. We would like to thank Shelter and the Residential Landlords Association for their thoughtful and thorough contributions to the review, to help us better understand the market in this area, and bring our policies in line with those in our commercial segment.”

Meanwhile the first meeting between government officials and bodies including the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the major landlord trade organisations, to discuss the issue, is believed to be planned for later this month.

Out of 4.5m households living in private rental accommodation, 889,000 receive housing benefit to help pay their rent. However, the MHCLG says latest figures show around half of landlords said they would not be willing to let to tenants on Housing Benefit – ruling out thousands of vulnerable people and families.

The Residential Landlords Association has been a long-standing critic of the 60 per cent or so of buy to let lenders who ban landlords from renting to tenants on benefits.

“Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis,” says John Stewart.

“But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.”

The National Landlords Association has also commented on the government’s initiative, saying: “The NLA recognises that a blanket ban on tenants in receipt of benefits can appear unfair and is poor practice. However, we continue to emphasise to government the importance of landlords considering circumstances on a case-by-case basis, with landlords making a business decision on who to agree a tenancy with.”

Poll: Is a ban on 'No DSS' the right approach?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

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    All very well stopping the ads but unless they resolve ALL of the underlying issues it won't make a scrap of difference. Rents paid in arrears, clawbacks, non-affordability all need to be looked at along with the biggest of them all - S24! If it's costing a landlord to rent to a benefit tenant then why would he/she do it.

    With the PRS contracting as it is then there won't be anything to rent anyway.

  • Don Holmes

    It is not whether it is right or wrong, it is about a business person be encouraged/allowed to run their business by making the right financial choices to suit.given the chaos with UC (it has taken me 6 months to get rent) equally LL’s are not put off by their mortgage lender, it is the market segment of choice, and our association is buckling here the Shelter pressure !!!!

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    Make zero difference stopping the adverts .. they won’t get accepted if the landlords or agent doesn’t want them

    This is just the latest generation rent votes winner campaign

    Here is a few advert alternatives ;

    Must be in secure employment with affordability. Must be credit worthy. Must offer a payment with no risk of clawbacks. Must not present any breach to landlords mortgage or insurance terms. Must pay in advance from the outset. I can go on !!

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    Ok No DSS will now read must be in full time employment, still won’t take them

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    Surely it is time for landlords to claim charitable status?

    Rob  Davies

    Good luck with that one!

     
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    Council in Somerset encourage tenants who have been issued a section 21 to stay in the property because they've got nowhere to house them so yet another reason not to take these type of people.

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    Its not just in Somerset. We have had a few here in North Wales admitting the council had told them to stay put - costing our clients thousands of pounds

     
  • icon

    "Out of 4.5m households living in private rental accommodation, 889,000 receive housing benefit to help pay their rent." This is from the 10th paragraph in this report and equates to less than 1%.

    The numbers quoted by RLA are NOWHERE NEAR the 20% noted above.

    Is this another non news report or do the RLA not have a working calculator. Wait though - perhaps the envelope back was already filled with doodles.

    J P
    • J P
    • 05 March 2019 10:41 AM

    Good point, who's doing the math here??

     
  • J P
    • J P
    • 05 March 2019 10:37 AM

    Proper screening and referencing should determine your decision, whether they are on benefits or not.

    I am sure a good % of the 20% of tenants on DSS in the PRS are not in arrears and are good tenants. Its not the governments property to play with. Landlord and Agents do have the right to choose who they want in their property.

    Build more homes for DSS and you deal with them ...

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    They can choose but they cannot break the law. That's what this is all about.

    People who don't understand this should not be landlords.

     
  • icon

    Just who do the RLA think they're speaking for - ??? certainly not Landlords, as the percentage poll above shows some 76% think the ban is the wrong approach.
    Govt shouldn't interfere in private business.
    Some of my properties are in areas where the Local Housing allowance, and rental prices are somewhere near each other. In these cases, I consider Benefit recipient tenants.
    In other area's the market rate for rent is such that Govt freezes for many years on LHA benefits, have made them so out of sync that I known any tenant in receipt of benefits will struggle or Not be able to afford the rent payments. It will be the Landlord that's out of pocket, Not Govt.
    If the Govt Really want to forcibly influence benefit tenants renting property, - then put their Money where their mouth is and stand as Guarantor for Benefit Tenants.

    S l
    • S l
    • 07 March 2019 22:54 PM

    on one hand, the government wants prs not to discriminate DSS, on the other hand, the council are not paying the rent to landlord or reclaim back money paid to landlord where they mess up, so either way, they are forcing the prs into a tight corner

     
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    There's nothing wrong with refusing to let to someone on affordability. If someone is likely to be unable to pay the rent, then you can refuse. The level of LHA in an area would come into this calculation.

    However, refusing to let just on the basis they're on housing benefit is clearly indirect discrimination, i.e- it's a blanket rule which adversely affects people because of who they are, be they disabled or single mothers in part time work etc.

     
  • icon

    Easier to just say no. I do

    icon

    Yes Alan, I agree. But I think its necessary for the reason Why Landlords don't rent to tenants on benefit ( which like most things, are due to Govt interventions ) to be explained.
    Its Not because of any discrimination but pure financial business decisions.

     
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    Well if the courts rule on it and you continue to refuse to let to people on housing benefit, you end up committing an offence.

    It would take a brave tenant but you could be sued. So consider that a business decision, do you want to risk being sued.

     
  • icon

    Agree, if rent was paid Direct to Landlord like every other tenant and a Deposit is paid, then maybe not a problem however council have a tendency to stop payments because it suits them to why they check out their client our tenant and in mean time we get no rent, try telling that to your bank or mortgage provider. Easier for me to say No Universal Credit tenants just the same as I say No Dogs or any person who would eat a Curry every day.

  • icon

    All true, but worse is the potential claw back from landlord when paid direct if any falsification if found, even years later.
    This is why I just say no, irrespective of any other factors

    S l
    • S l
    • 08 March 2019 08:33 AM

    surely the council have no right to do that unless you had signed an agreement to let them do so, there is no contractual relationship between you and the council. likewise if you take a private tenant, doesnt matter who pay their rent. once pay, non refundable. has anyone taken the council to court for this? perhaps the nla and rla should start taking actions to protect their clients, us, and to fight for us. why else are we paying them to be a member for?

     
  • icon

    Only ever had one, never again, cost me loss of rent, damage to property, £8,000 is a heavy loss for so called equality.....there is a reason banks, insurance and LL don't like a DSS rental model!!!

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    I'm sorry to hear about your loss Mike Dudley. I would be careful what you say because it may come back to haunt you.

     
  • icon

    Nobody, least of all prats like Shelter, are going to dictate to me who I accept. I don't care what they call it, makes no difference. My property my decision, don't like that then tough.

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    You're not above the law Alan. If you break the law, you should face the consequences. It's comments like yours that make me think that the decision as to who to let to should be partially taken out of landlords' hands.

    But again, if you do act like you intend above, hopefully someone will take you to court and use these comments to get compensation.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    @Pete Smith
    Mate you really are a bit of a wally
    A LL is perfectly entitled to discriminate against HB tenants.
    They have NO protected characteristics.
    It is irrelevant if certain domestic circumstances that HB tenants find themselves in are effectively discriminated against because they have no choice but to be in receipt of HB.
    That is their fault NOT the LL!!
    It DOESN'T matter how these tenants came to be in receipt of HB a LL is under NO obligation to house them.
    There are far more factors involved when choosing a tenant than just affordability.
    First off is the relevant ability for a tenant to fund that affordability.
    I DON'T know whether you have noticed but there are many problems with HB tenants.
    It is NOT the HB tenants that are the problem it is the system that deals with them that is.
    LL have a problem with HB system NOT with the tenants themselves.
    The system oroblems are political and until the Govt is prepared to adjust its political mindset to make the HB system easier for LL to manage then LL will continue to decline HB tenants.
    There is simply no prospect of any LL ever being prosecuted for refusing to take on a DSS tenant.
    Private LL exist to make PROFIT HB tenants can potentially severely compromise such profits or rather the HB system can.

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