Campaigns Opinion

Landlord support key for Crisis campaign

Tom Say
Written by Tom Say

Homeless charity Crisis is asking landlords to back its latest campaign, lobbying the Government to support its plans to unlock private renting for homeless people by funding projects to help the homeless into accommodation and setting up a national rent deposit guarantee.

Here, in a guest blog for the RLA, Tom Say, Senior Campaigns Officer at Crisis explains how the move will be beneficial for the homeless and landlords alike.

“Landlords have a crucial role to play in ending homelessness. Yet many are understandably anxious about letting to homeless people, particularly if they have support needs or no money for a deposit. At Crisis we know how these barriers can be overcome, how landlords and homeless people can be supported to create homes that last and what role government needs to play. But we need your help to make it happen.

At Crisis, we’ve spent years supporting homeless people to find and, crucially, keep homes in the private rented sector. We also support small ‘help-to-rent’ projects across the country to do the same. We know the barriers that homeless people face can be overcome. We also understand the challenges that landlords face and that to solve homelessness through private renting we need solutions that work for you.

Earlier this year, a survey of 800 private landlords conducted for Crisis (with the help of the RLA) found that the vast majority now consider it too risky to rent to homeless people and are increasingly reluctant to rent to people supported by benefits. At the same time, a survey of homeless people found that nearly three-quarters said upfront costs had prevented them from securing a tenancy.

The RLA tell us their members would be much less reluctant to rent to homeless people if the perceived risks could be better managed. That’s exactly what help-to-rent projects do. In order to help homeless people become tenants they also support landlords, offering a single point of contact for both if anything goes wrong. Often, they offer bonds or guarantees to landlords in place of deposits.

But these projects aren’t everywhere and many are struggling for funding, meaning they can’t offer they kind of support we know works.

That’s why, with the help of the RLA, our Home, No Less Will Do campaign is calling on the Government to:

  • fund local accredited projects wherever they are needed to work with landlords to help homeless people rent. The Government already knows these projects are cost effective and successful.
  • set up a national rent deposit guarantee for projects to use in place of cash deposits. Underwriting this on a national scale would be more efficient and less confusing (for both homeless people and landlords) than the myriad local deposit schemes currently in operation. It would also free up vital funds for projects to do more of what they do best: supporting homeless people, vulnerable tenants and their landlords.

These are practical solutions based on evidence and experience. We need your help to make the case to Government – will you sign our open letter to Housing Minister Gavin Barwell and Chancellor Phillip Hammond?”

Find out more and take action here: www.crisis.org.uk/homenoless

About the author

Tom Say

Tom Say

Senior Campaigns Officer at Crisis

17 Comments

  • Crisis – and landlords – would have much better luck housing the homeless if the govt weren’t so keen to force a very large number of landlords out of business! Scrap the ludicrous nonsense of SDLT and Section 24 and I’ll house as many homeless as you can send me.

    • I’m with you totally on that James. Leave the tax system as it was and I, too, would be glad to house as many homeless as you have in my area.

  • Unfortunately, this is not going to be possible for the majority of portfolio landlords who provide vast swathes of housing by leveraging. This is because this model of using equity to purchase and/or develop new housing, accompanied by the use of BTL mortgages, is completely under attack with the new tax levy on finance costs. Landlords now need to find the tenants who can pay the most and those at the bottom of the ladder are not going to be able to pay the increased rents needed to pass this extraordinary and outrageous tax on to the Exchequer. Crisis needs to also campaign against Section 24. If it did that it would at least show that it is not anti-landlord like Shelter and the current Government are. I have not heard one word from Crisis about what it thinks of Section 24. We need to know.

  • Ask the Government to scrap section 24 tax changes for landlords. Unless this attack on landlords is scrapped homelessness will continue to increase.

  • For the last 30 years I have been housing the homeless , those that no other landlord would take, the alcoholics, the divorcees, the rough sleepers. For thanks I have tenants who could not be bothered to make a housing benefit claim, had the local council tell me its my fault because I do not choose my tenants carefully enough, had the government reduce housing benefit well below the normal market rent, had the tenants trash properties and the police tell me its not criminal damage – need I go on. The icing on the cake is section 24, loss of furniture tax allowance, extra stamp duty, a plethora of new regulations for landlords, the constant threat of selective licensing and unpaid border control duties with the criminalisation of landlords who make a mistake when checking. This combined with the near impossibility of evicting a bad tenant makes renting to the risky tenants non-viable.

    No more, enough is enough, the homeless can remain homeless until organisations like Crisis start to support landlords and persuade government to stop attacking landlords, both financially and regulatory. I have reached the stage where I would rather have my property empty.

  • Tom

    I applaud and commend your efforts.

    I once was someone that had enormous distrust for anyone homeless, partly fueled by a bad experience. However, some years back I was approached by the local Council asking me to take someone in that was sleeping rough 4 nights a week. The guy was almost 50 and it was mid December. I asked the others in the HMO where I had a spare room if they were OK with it and they were. So Tom moved in.

    He turned out to be somebody very special and became a good friend.

    My views are now very different and as I see the numbers of homeless around the country increasing at a steady pace I would love to help more. But I really can’t. I am full to the brim on all my properties and whilst I would be willing to buy more they would have to be mortgaged and I’m sure you’re aware of the numerous attacks that Government has made on the PRS. It is just not viable to buy with mortgages anymore because of Section 24 of the 2015 Finance Act.

    I recently stuffed a banknote into the hand of someone sleeping rough on the streets of London. It made me feel good for a few seconds, but then I was consumed with guilt. It was such a small gesture and would help the guy for such a short space of time. I for one would love to help and provide more housing but it’s not the likes of me you need to be lobbying. It is Downing St.

    I wish you well.

  • If you want private Landlords to help Crisis to provide homes for the homelessness why does Crisis support Government policies that makes it unviable for Landlords to provide such accomodation rather than oppose it?

    Increasing costs to Landlords means higher rents or Landlords selling up and making existing tenants homeless! Just as higher duty on fuel means higher petrol prices at the pump. Crisis should oppose Sec.24 not support it.

  • I have for 20years been housing the low paid and benefit tenants working with the Housing Needs Dept at the local council.
    It has got harder to do this from 2010-2015 due to government policies on paying tenant direct , freezing HB payments and now paying well below market rent for the area.
    My tenancies usually last for 5years and I did not increase the rents.
    I have also suffered a massive uplift of non payment of rents and trashed houses one months bond only covers a fraction of the cost when this happens.

    But then the government without warning brings in Section 24 this is on top of UCredit which is a nightmare. This for me was the straw that broke the camels back and I am now not housing Benefit tenants. I will be lucky to survive Section24 I certainly wont if I remain in the housing benefit market.

    The government seems to think portfolio landlords have loads of time to arrange things with a phrasing in over four year policy. What a joke, I have this year been evicting my housing benefit tenants , Not one have gone on the ending of the Section 21 notice, they wait for the court order and 2 have waited for the bailiff. One of these even requested a stay on the bailiff. The stress to both parties is hugh and the cost to evict these tenants is around 30,000. ( they stop paying rent when you serve and the courts are very slow) They also have been leaving the properties in a mess.)
    Section 21 is used for tenants that have rent arrrears so when it gets reported that the 3rd cause of homelessness is section21 and then the landlord is blamed, look again landlords wish to keep long term good tenants.

    I would ask that Crisis support landlords against a direct government attack on the PRS . The government motive is to distroy the buy to let sector this sector houses many benefit tenants.

    The money that the government is giving to help the homelessness is a sticky plaster on something which needs major surgery and is done as a populist vote. The dhp does not help , it takes six weeks to process in my council is given for 3 months ( use to be a year) and if you are very lucky you might get it for another 3 months. Ucredit expect to wait 3 months for any money.

    Then we have the press saying “Greedy landlords raking in 9Billion housing benefit” landlords lose thousands and thousands of pounds in this market and save the governmernt a fortune . You will now see the homeless figures rocket due to the government policy.

    So my message to Crisis is work with us to overturn Section24 and all the untruths and polictial spin this government is creating against private landlords who work extremely hard providing homes for tenants.

  • I am now wondering why no-one from Crisis is getting back to us. Are they even reading these comments? Hello! Is there anybody out there?

  • Thanks for all the comments. We really want to engage with landlords on these issues as we know you have a key role to play in ending homelessness. This blog is part of that conversation and so it’s great to see your responses.

    I think are three themes emerging from the comments so far: benefit cuts and changes; section 24 and other recent PRS policies; and the risk of tenancy failure for vulnerable tenants.

    On benefits and affordability, we’ve campaigned hard over the last few years against cuts and changes to LHA. We know that landlords who do have tenants on LHA find it increasingly difficult to make the numbers stack up. We know that the freeze in rates through to 2020 is making the situation even harder for tenants on lower incomes to find and keep homes in the PRS. While we’re not doing any public campaigning on this at the moment, we’re still pushing behind the scenes for the link between LHA and market rents to be reinstated and to make UC work for vulnerable tenants and landlords.

    On section 24 and the other changes to the PRS in recent years, any measures that put landlords off renting to homeless people are a concern, especially if it also puts current tenancies at risk. The impact of these measures for homeless people will form part of our conversation with government, alongside addressing problems with the LHA and securing funding for projects that support homeless people, vulnerable tenants and landlords.

    That brings me to the risk of tenancy failure and the lack of support available to landlords housing vulnerable tenants. As I tried to explain in the blog, we know help-to-rent projects can successfully support landlords to house homeless people. They give landlords a single point of contact and links into local council benefit offices help smooth the way. But we know that these projects aren’t everywhere and that many landlords just aren’t aware of the support available to them.

    We need to do much more to help homeless people rent and to support landlords in helping to be the best they can for vulnerable tenants. We will continue to work with RLA to make sure there’s a PRS strategy from Government that’s fit for purpose and doesn’t make it harder for landlord and tenant. Our current campaign is just one way of doing this (www.crisis.org.uk/HomeNoLess).

    If you’d like to find out about projects in your local area then check out our database on our website: http://www.crisis.org.uk/find-pr-scheme.php

    • Hi Tom.
      Thank you for getting back to us.
      Does this mean that you have concerns about Section 24? Do you agree it is going to and is already leading to higher rents (in the same way it did in Ireland)? Do you agree that higher rents will lead to the most needy being pushed out of the traditional PRS and into inferior and more expensive B & B accommodation? I think Crisis is being very opaque and we need more transparency. We need to know if you are friend or foe. Shelter has clearly declared it self as foe.

  • I’m sure Tom Say means well and the outline I’ve seen of Shelter’s help-to-rent and other proposals make sense and I would like to support them. However, like most of the other landlords responding here to Tom’s post, I must point out that there is a massive disconnect between this project and Shelter’s other policies and its general attitude of hostility towards private landlords. Small HMO landlords in particular ought to be the perfect allies for Shelter, given that local authorities and housing associations show little inclination to operate HMOs and build-to-rent developers won’t touch them with a bargepole, but when was the last time you heard someone from Shelter speak up and praise people operating in the small HMO market? The endemic attitude in Shelter and most local authorities seems to be that HMO landlords are little short of criminals and deserve to be monitored, licensed and preferably taxed out of business.

    I’m afraid Tom’s valuable project is going to be swamped by larger forces such as Clause 24, stamp duty, the increasing restrictions on new BTL lending, the expansion of borough-wide compulsory licensing, and the likely extension next year of the definition of a licensable HMO to include two-storey properties. All of these are likely to cause landlords to retrench, reduce debt, convert HMOs back into single-family occupation properties, and reduce their overall risk profile. There is a fundamental problem of lack of supply of small shared housing units, and the general direction of travel is to reduce this even further, leading to a further squeeze on access opportunities for benefit claimants and the homeless.

  • I STRONGLY agree with all above comments except for Tom’s.

    Where were you when we needed the support for/ against the section 24? I had personally written to your organisation, I can publish it here . The answer I got did not address any of my point it was as though you were pushed/forced into a reply.

    Shelter are as bad as you. Claiming you guys are on the side of tenants and want to help them. If this was genuine you would have made sure section 24 does not happen. It is going to affect the very tenants that you and shelter claim to be helping. How are you helping them by making them street home less, being on the side of the goverment to implement the section 24? I don’t think you know or even understand what the consequncies are going to be for the tenants on lower income and on benefit. Wait a few years and come back to read this post.

  • I would rather keep my vast portfolio empty rather than work with Crisis or Shelter.
    Do not believe a word written here by Tom. Example ” We need to do much more to help homeless people rent and to support landlords in helping to be the best they can for vulnerable tenants”.

    Very clear to see they have made happy secure people with homes homeless by going along with Section 24. They don’t really care for the homeless.

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