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Six in 10 private landlords refuse benefit claimants

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Six in 10 private landlords refuse benefit claimants

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

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Only 18% of the UK's private landlords currently let to tenants receiving housing benefit, and only 35% have done so in the past, new research has revealed.

SpareRoom.co.uk's survey found widespread negativity towards tenants on benefits, with only four in 10 of the 18% of landlords who currently have housing benefit tenants in their properties willing to continue to accept them after the rollout of universal credit begins in earnest in 2016.

However, just two years ago housing benefit tenants made up a significant proportion of the UK's private rental population, with over a third (34%) of landlords surveyed at the end of 2011 having these tenants in one or more of their properties, while almost half (45%) said they had previously let to claimants.

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

Almost nine in 10 (88%) of private landlords say the 2008 change to the Local Housing Allowance, which saw housing benefit paid directly to tenants instead of to landlords, was a bad move.

An overwhelming majority (86%) reported that payment-related problems were the cause of their unwillingness to let to tenants on housing benefit again.

The sorts of problems landlords reported were:

Late paying

9%

Didn't pay

11%

Damaged the property

4%

Issues with benefit payments affected reliability

9%

More than one of the above

57%

Didn't have any problems

10%

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 10 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. With rents rising and the welfare budget suffering from further government cuts, the outlook for tenants reliant on housing benefit is getting bleaker."

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