Benefit claimants will find it harder to rent, warn landlords
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing
Westminster negotiates lower private rents on former council flats
People on welfare are likely to find it harder to rent unless the government offers greater certainty over when housing benefit will be paid to landlords, the Residential Landlords Association has claimed.
The RLA is warning that the government’s refusal to define when a landlord can secure direct payment of benefit to them when a tenant is in default on their rent will encourage letters to exclude claimants.
The organisation has spoken out in response to the publication of the government’s answer to the Welsh Affairs select committee report on the impact of housing benefit reforms in Wales.
Pressed by the committee to provide a definition of a ‘vulnerable’ tenant for the purpose of deciding if their housing benefit would in future be paid directly to the landlord rather than the tenant, the government said that “We do not intend to provide a definition of ‘vulnerable’ as decisions about alternative payment arrangements should be based on individual circumstances".
Chris Town, vice chair of the RLA, said: “The government’s response to the committee report is incredibly worrying. The reality is that decisions about payments will ultimately be made at the whim of whoever in government is dealing with vulnerability assessments, leaving the system wide open to inconsistent and potentially wrong decisions.
“Figures show that 79% of all landlords earn less than a quarter of their income from letting properties whilst 21% earned no income at all from their rental property. Without greater certainty landlords will be fearful of renting to those on benefits given the potential for huge rent arrears to mount up which they would be financially unable to sustain.”