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Government vows action on no DSS bans

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Plans to end blanket bans on renting to benefits tenants have been announced by government today. 

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP has said letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit should end.

She says she will be meeting with industry representatives, including the RLA to talk about the best way forward to clamp down on blanket exclusions – with a view to stopping them altogether.

The RLA has been campaigning for change for some time and has worked with high street bank Nat West – which has today announced it will lift restrictions preventing landlords with its buy-to-let mortgages renting to benefits tenants.

The RLA has reminded landlords they should not impose blanket bans – but the situation remains a complex one.

RLA research has found that the average amount owed by Universal Credit tenants in rent arrears increased by half, from just over £1,600 in 2017 to almost £2,400 in 2018 – which can leave landlords feeling wary.

And some landlords’ hands are tied when it comes to renting to benefits tenants.

Further  research work by RLA mortgage partners 3mc found around two thirds of the largest buy-to-let mortgage lenders do not allow landlords to rent property to tenants receiving housing benefit.

And work by Manchester Metropolitan University for the RLA has found that 53 per cent of landlords reported that the gap between the Local Housing Allowance and local market rent is more than £50 a month. Almost 25% said the gap is over £100 a month.

John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA said: “Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis. 

“But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.

“This means giving all tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord, working with bank lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants and ending the Local Housing Allowance freeze which has meant benefits bear little resemblance to rents.”

As part of today’s announcement Ms Wheeler also announced plans to make more than £19.5m available to councils to help people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, access a PRS home.

The cash – which is coming from the government’s £100m Rough Sleeping Strategy, will be shared among 54 projects, with the government saying it will help vulnerable people secure their own tenancy through support such as paying deposits or putting down the first months’ rent.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

6 Comments

  • Not only mortgage companies but my insurance company would not be happy. They may not cover me or they may impose extra cost to insure with unemployed tenants.

  • Um, and what about the Government’s rule that young single people can receive HB for only a room? Is a landlord justified in asking such a person whether they are receiving “DSS” if they try to rent a whole flat or house?

    A rule to ban no-DSS adverts is going to lead to a huge waste of time for landlords and tenants, because as soon as landlords ask for details and proof of income, they are almost certainly going to reject the DSS applicant anyway: the reputation of housing benefit claimants and its administration is so appalling, why would any landlord in their right mind consider such a tenant?

    Even if the tenants themselves and their associates are saintly in character, how about perverse Government rules such as:
    – if a tenant is receiving HB and applies for a new flat in a different borough, they have to make a fresh HB application – cue delays and no guarantee they will keep their HB.

    – the slightest change to their working arrangements requires a fresh HB application and can lead to seemingly arbitrary immediate withdrawal of benefit until the application is assessed – cue rent arrears

    – if the tenant gets into arrears or misbehaves or is simply no longer needed by the landlord and is given notice, s/he is positively required by councils to refuse to move out until bailiffs arrive, on the grounds to do otherwise is making themselves ‘voluntarily homeless’ and will lead to the cancellation of their HB. This outrageous and discriminatory practice by councils guarantees losses for landlords and is another reason to be extremely wary of benefit claimants.

  • A large number of landlord insurers also operate a ‘no benefit tenants’ policy. This is another disincentive for landlords that has to be addressed before the ‘no discrimination’ policy can be put into practise

  • Although I understand the sentiment behind No-DSS discrimination surely it is better to be honest about your intentions. By landlords making it clear they will not let to those tenants they are managing the expectations of prospective applicants.

  • The rights of tenants or would be tenants are now getting to the point that a mass exodus of landlords who will sell up as the financial return with the very added risks are becoming onerous. There are bad landlords, these are really already covered by much legislation but it seems government wants more and more [control?] There are lots of very poor corporate and limited companies who are as bad if not worse- along with Housing associations who do not follow such stringent rules.
    Please remember the lessons of post era Rachman when legislation tightened year after year until private landlords all but a mere few disappeared to the detriment of the accommodation market. It was only in the 70s/80s did it come back again- short memories.

  • It is up to me and me alone as to who I rent my property to, it’s my property after all, like many Landlords It is my hard work over the years that has enabled me to buy property for rent. I am not set up to handle DSS tenant’s and all the extra work involved, nor will I ever be. I am fed up with Government’s constantly dictating to me on how I should run my business, I am Fully Accredited with all local authorities where I have property and have been since the introduction of such schemes many years ago. I look after my tenant’s and provide a professional service but enough is enough and due entirely to the constant interference I have already started selling property and intend to get out altogether as soon as possible. Government should concentrate solely on removing the bad guy’s and leave the good ones alone, or risk loosing the likes of me.

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