People on benefits are likely to find it harder to rent housing unless the Government offers greater certainty over when housing benefits will be paid to landlords.
The Residential Landlords’ Association is warning that the Government’s refusal to define when a landlord can secure direct payment of benefit to them where a tenant is in default on their rent will create huge uncertainty and encourage landlords not to have tenants on benefits.
The RLA was responding to the publication of the Government’s response to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee report on the impact of the Government’s 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, Ministers responded:
“We do not intend to provide a definition of ‘vulnerable’ as decisions about alternative payment arrangements should be based on individual circumstances.”
Commenting, 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 per cent of all landlords earn less than a quarter of their income from letting properties whilst 21 per cent 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.”