Just 20% of landlords say that they are willing to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit, according to the latest research by the National Landlords Association (NLA).
The findings arrive as the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee questions the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the rollout of Universal Credit.
The NLA’s study shows that the proportion of landlords who say that they are willing to let their property to housing benefit claimants has dropped to just 20%, down from 34% at the start of 2013.
The research, taken from the NLA’s Quarterly Landlord Panel, also found that two in three landlords who let to housing benefit recipients say that they have fallen behind on rent payments in the past 12 months.
The NLA has already provided written evidence to the Committee’s inquiry, outlining some of the major issues the new Universal Credit system is causing landlords, and why so many are shying away from accepting benefit tenants. These include:
- The difficulty of communicating and interacting with the Universal Credit administration system.
- The time and effort it takes to secure direct payment of the housing element of Universal Credit to the landlord.
- The six-week waiting period, which causes tenants to be two months in rent arrears by the time of the first payment.
The organisation is calling on the Government to pause the national rollout of its new welfare system and to lift the current freeze on housing benefit rates.
To help landlords understand the Universal Credit scheme, we have put together a comprehensive guide that you can access here.
Richard Lambert, the CEO of the NLA, says: “Underlying all the problems with Universal Credit is the freeze on housing benefit rates, which means that the housing element of Universal Credit is simply insufficient for many tenants to be able to cover their rent.
“The decline in social housing means that some of the most vulnerable in society can only turn to the private rented sector. We have long called for the freeze to be scrapped, as it creates a barrier that prevents claimants from securing the housing they need.”
He adds: “If the Government is serious about helping, then it needs to press pause on the rollout of Universal Credit and fix its underlying problems. Otherwise, more and more people will find themselves homeless, as the proportion of landlords who consider themselves able to house those who need it most will keep on falling.”
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