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Written by George Bailey

Negative attitudes of landlords towards tenants on benefits have been revealed in a new study.

Fewer than one in five (18%) of UK landlords currently let to tenants receiving housing benefits, according to research from flat and house share site SpareRoom.co.uk.

It also revealed that only 35% of landlords had let to tenants on benefits in the past.

And the rental landscape has changed markedly over the past two years. At the end of 2011, more than a third (34%) of landlords surveyed had tenants on benefits in one or more of their properties, while almost half (45%) said they had previously taken in this type of tenant.

Almost six in 10 landlords (57%) refuse to accept anyone on benefits now, specifically stating "no housing benefit tenants" in room adverts – while almost two thirds (65%) of landlords say they wouldn’t take a tenant on benefits even if they had guarantors.

Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, said: “The 2008 move to stop landlords receiving rent payments direct – designed to give those on benefits greater responsibility for their finances – has had overwhelmingly negative and lasting repercussions for tenants receiving housing benefits.

"Almost six in ten landlords now won't even entertain the idea of letting to tenants on benefits, and our research shows this could only be the tip of the iceberg as the rollout of universal credit is set to make the situation even worse."

Comments

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    Jon Clayson - Absolutely spot on. The council are worse than the tenants. They come round asking if we have any houses for tenants on benefits because they cannot house them themselves and then when things go wrong they shaft you.

    Michael - We do not ask for a previous landlords reference for one very good reason. If you as a landlord had a bad tenant who refused to move out but suddenly they get offered a property somewhere else, wouldn't you give them a glowing reference to get rid?

    • 28 January 2014 09:43 AM
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    I love HB tenants. Especially with G-Tors.
    I pay my taxes like the majority and it gives me great pleasure in receiving my rent from the machine I have fed since the age of 16!!!!!
    Bring on more I say, if you don't want them then give em to me!!!!!!!
    Oh happy days!!!!!

    • 24 January 2014 14:39 PM
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    If HB income could sensibly be treated like any other income, then HB tenants could be considered on their own merits or lack of them. As has been said in this thread, not all should be treated teh same, but the few rotten apples out there cause a disproportionate headache & expense.
    I think its a good thing that the tenants are paid the money direct, they do need to learn to manage cash ... and there is a crazy law that says that if the recipient of the benefit is found to have committed fraud (eg perhaos done a few hours work) then up to 6 years later the full benefit amount can be clawed back from whoever received it .... so if it had been paid to the agent or landlored then they, not the guilty party, have to pay it back! Madness!
    We recently took a tenant on benefits at the landlord's request, against our better judgement, based on a glowing reference from his landlord. Complaints about him from neighbours started on day one, wonderful.

    • 24 January 2014 12:12 PM
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    Surprised that noone has commented on the other major issue with renting to HB.... working with councils!!

    We are in the South East and whilst i agree with much of what has been said, one of the biggest put-offs is working with the local authority. They will stop payments at the drop of a hat and not offer any explanation, but worse than that, they actively encourage tenants to remain in the property after section 21 has been served but telling them they will be assumed as voluntarily leaving the property, therefore no houysing list acceptance, unless they are actually evicted.

    As a landlord, why the heck would you want to go through that?? We all know exactly how it ends up i.e. the court tells them to leave, then they don't yet again as that isn't enough, as that isn't eviction. They have to wait for bailiffs.....

    For me the whole system is crock. I don't understand why the legal view tends to be weighted in favour of a tenant when it is actually only a small % of Landlords, in my experience, who are remotely even problematic.

    Good honest and generally caring landlords get taken to the cleaners because they decided to help people on HB... SUCKS.

    • 24 January 2014 09:19 AM
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    @Adam

    "If we didn't accept HB we would have hardly any tenants!"

    What does that tell you!!

    This is not a tar on all DSS tenants. Some are ok, but they are in the minority, and its getting worse. See my previous post.

    My experience is either of people taking the pi55 and abusing the system, or people wanting to move from a 1bed up the ladder. Sorry, if you don't work for a living, GENERALLY, not tarring all, be grateful you have a roof over your head at all. Do not spend your time trying to move up the ladder at someone else's expense. Go out there and get a job, then you can pay for the upgrade yourselves.

    Seen far too many DSS tenants in property yet funnily enough have a car, go on foreign holidays, order takeaways once a week minimum, afford to drink and smoke every day, have several children and more on the way, as well as large flat screen TVs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc etc.

    Its not right.

    Imagine this ... you were a car insurance customer who put nothing into the system and always took out via claims. Do you think you'd see an increase in your premium or a polite "f off" at renewal? yes, of course you would. Likewise, if you didn't take anything out, would you be kept on at a fair price? Yes.

    Why should the public section be any different.

    Some people are take take take without putting anything in. Those people need to realise there is a limitation to how far they can push those that do put money in before they alienate them.

    • 23 January 2014 15:44 PM
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    HB tenants, for the most part are a liability. The exception is people who have suddenly fallen on hard times (redundancy, marital breakdown etc.). Generation benefit claimants are a waste of space however.

    I used to work for one of the largest independent letting agents in the UK. Back in 2004 60% of their tenants were claiming HB and, of course, the money came to us rather than the tenant which was okay apart from "stop-claims" etc. because generation bennies won't get off their arses to sort things out with their claims - they want it all doing for them. Just like crap and rubbish being collected from their front gardens by the council!

    As soon as the company heard of the impending ridiculous legislation to give the money to the tenants we withdrew from the HB market and NEVER house HB tenants. I don't work for the company now but of not far from 1000 tenancies, only 5% are benefit and they will be on their way out.

    Since the company heard of the legislation, no new benefit applications were accepted and a few years of evicting the existing ones (most of whom were NOT looking after the property anyway) has completely changed the model of the business - for the BETTER!

    I am not surprised at news of Landlords shunning them - especially as universal credit will screw up the system evern more - but, then, that's another story!!!

    • 23 January 2014 12:40 PM
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    It's wrong to tar all HB tenants with the same brush.

    I'm based in the North-East. The majority of our tenants are on HB, and the majority of them pay their rent on time, look after the property and don't cause any trouble.

    Yes, every now and then we get a HB tenant who is a nightmare, but this is the minority. If we didn't accept HB we would have hardly any tenants!

    I guess everyone has different experiences of it. But ours isn't as bad as all the recent outbreaks seem to make it look.

    • 23 January 2014 12:32 PM
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    Good, glad to hear it. Go out and work for a living like the majority of decent people do.

    I have sympathy for those in genuine need on benefits, but they are fewer and further between in my experience. Too many chancers and people demanding something for nothing, who not only happy with benefits paid from my taxes, but then want to ask me to work on their behalf as well in finding them somewhere to live.

    Lesson to all these people ... focus as hard on finding work as finding a new improved home. Might get you somewhere in life.

    • 23 January 2014 12:00 PM
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    @ PropertyGeek on 2014-01-23 09:32:34

    Yes, all tenants are a potential risk but those with a job and track record are much less of a risk than those already with money problems. Normal business sense.

    • 23 January 2014 09:57 AM
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    I dont know if this is a National trend or regional.

    I work in Hertfordshire and I am seeing more and more landlord refusing tenants on benefit.

    All but 1 of the 12 letting agents in my town refuse tenants on benefits point blank.

    Even when applicants have a guarantor and deposit landlords still wont take them, saying they are a higher risk than an employed tenant.

    but surely even an employed tenant is a risk, if they lose their job for whatever reason.

    • 23 January 2014 09:32 AM
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    It's basic business sense.

    Who in business would take a chance on their rent not being passed to them by people who, by definition, have money problems. Claw back is a problem but even if scrapped, what businessman would take the chance. It is simply not worth the potential hassle?

    • 23 January 2014 09:26 AM
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    Poppy cock.

    You know it - I know it - we all know it.

    Regards

    • 23 January 2014 09:26 AM
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    90% of tenant enquiries we receive are for benefit applicants.

    We have 1 landlord that would consider tenants on benefits out of 100+ landlords

    • 23 January 2014 09:17 AM
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    Hang on. Lies damn lies and all that.

    4 out of 5 landlords do NOT shun HB tenants rather on 18% actually let to HB tenants - but what proportion of applicants where on benefits?

    57% 'shun' tenants on benefits - not the 80% the headline suggests.

    Come on guys - basic journalism.... please

    • 23 January 2014 07:24 AM
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