A leading trade body says the rental sector must not discriminate against tenants on benefits - and has told government it has a part to play, too.
The National Residential Landlords Association says: “No landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits.
“Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case-by-case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.
“More broadly, the government needs to take action to give both tenants and landlords greater confidence that benefits will cover rents.”
The remarks follow publication of a report which condemns agents and landlords for advertising so-called ‘No DSS’ properties to let.
The report - funded by the Nationwide Foundation and written by the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy - says the lettings industry is concerned over regulation and benefit levels and is therefore reluctant to deal with tenants on benefits.
The report blames government for years of under-investment in social housing and the sale of council houses through Right to Buy.
Add on a reduction in landlords as more become disenchanted with reduced profits and greater red tape, and the rental sector faces a crisis say the report authors, led by Dr Julie Rugg.
The report says that while some agents and landlords are happy with benefit recipients as tenants, most appear reluctant at best. Those landlords new to the sector are least likely to accept tenants on benefits.
Just nine per cent of landlords in the market for three years or less say they currently let to people receiving housing benefit; for landlords letting for 11 or more years, this figure is 28 per cent.
“It’s a real concern that many good, professional landlords are no longer letting to housing benefit claimants because of the way that Universal Credit is administered” notes Rugg.