Landlords may 'subdivide' homes for tenants forced out of social housing - report
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing
Landlords could 'subdivide' homes for tenants forced out of social housing - report
Housing benefit cuts could see private landlords 'subdivide' homes for smaller families displaced from social housing leading to overcrowding and homelessness.
That stark warning has come from the Northern Area Social Housing (NASH) Forum - a group of housing associations in Staffordshire - who have looked into the impact of the Government's housing and welfare reforms.
Although the report focuses on Staffordshire, the conclusions reflect issues felt across the UK and "paint a bleak picture for the UK housing sector".
The report - backed by the National Housing Federation (NHF) - warns that plans to cut the housing benefits of tenants with spare rooms will affect nearly 30% of working age tenants in the NASH area - who will lose, on average, some £13 a week.
It warns the cuts will provide an incentive for private landlords to 'subdivide' properties to house those unable to afford social homes.
This, it says, may increase vacancy rates in the social sector and homelessness simultaneously as smaller families relocate into multiply occupied dwellings, while the previous single person occupants have to move out to make way for them.
It also warns that those aged between 25-35 - who now qualify for the lower shared accommodation rate rather than the rate for a one-bed flat - risk benefit cuts of up to 50%.
The report also warns that the Government's Affordable Rent programme - where providers are encouraged to set rents at 80% of the market rate in order to finance new housebuilding - "will generate a cohort of people in need who can not access the new build because of constrained income."
It says the most severely affected area within the NASH boundaries is Newcastle under Lyme, where 28% of those on the waiting list "will not have an affordable rent even after taking account of the payment of housing benefit".
Sinéad Butters, chair of NASH and chief executive of the Aspire Group, said: “We have already seen warning signs but this report confirms the harsh reality of the effects of the Government’s proposed reforms on both those who provide and live in social housing.
“Housing association tenants will suffer financially and risk becoming homeless as a result. Housing associations must invest in their services and work with other agencies to support their customers through what will be a traumatic few years ahead.”
The reports calls on councils to urgently review thier homelessness services to ensure there is sufficient capacity and resource to deal with the impacts of welfare reform.
In addition, it says they should review the "adequacy" of their supply of temporary accommodation "in light of the potentially large number of people who may need to find alternative accommodation".
It's calling on councils to review arrangements for regulation of the private rented sector and consider "enforcement of minimum standards" as Homes in Multiple Occupation increase.