Last week, Shadow Minister Laura Smith presented Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) Kit Malthouse with the question of “what steps is he taking to end discrimination against housing benefit claimants by private sector landlords?”
Tenants can claim Universal Credit as long as they are aged 18 or over, are under State Pension age, are not in full-time education or training, and do not have savings over £16,000. Receiving benefits in such a way has allowed tenants to understand the importance of budgeting. However, some landlords are not keen on the idea, as it leaves them open to rent arrears. The system previous to this allowed landlords to be paid directly.
In Kit Malthouse’s response, he stated: “We strongly encourage landlords and agents to consider all potential and existing tenants claiming housing benefit on an individual basis.”
Malthouse also goes on to highlight the fact that a new How to Let guide has been published (26th June), which he believes should “help landlords better understand their rights and responsibilities”.
He lists the other measures that have been put in place by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, in order to improve the private rental sector, as:
- The introduction of banning orders and a database of rogue landlords and agents in April 2018
- The requirement for letting and managing agents in England to belong to a Government approved redress scheme, introduced in October 2014
- The implementation of an eight week consultation on strengthening redress in housing that closed 16th April, the results of which are currently being analysed
On top of this, Kit Malthouse has also stated his backing for widening the reach of the redress scheme to also include landlords, as a way of ensuring all tenants “have access to a quick and easy dispute resolution when things go wrong”.