Thursday, 9 January 2014

Quote of the day...on renting to housing benefit tenants


It's always good to read something considered on a subject that caused much froth and bother in the media. It's from the always readable and helpful (I know, I know, she's a lawyer) Tessa Shepperson at the Landlord Law Blog:

The whole question of housing those on benefit is a tricky one. Although there are many, many excellent tenants on benefit, overall they tend to be more problematic:
  • They have less income than most working tenants and so finding money to pay rent is inevitably going to be harder
  • The housing benefit received is generally less than the market rent – so either the landlord has to accept a lower rent (and why should they do that?) or the tenant has to make up the difference – which will not be easy for them
  • Rent is not paid direct to landlords by the benefit authorities in most cases
  • Benefit Offices are not known for their efficiency and landlords often have long waits before payment is received
  • Benefit tenants as a group contains more people with some sort of personal problem – these are after all people who are unable to get or hold down a job
  • It appears that rent guarantee insurance is not available
For an example of a well meaning landlord renting to a single Mum on benefit, coming unstuck look no further than Kate’s Story on this blog.

Tessa goes on to remind us that the private landlord has no duty to house the homeless or people on benefits but also to make some sensible suggestions including:

If a landlord is willing to rent without rent guarantee insurance, there are things that can be done.

Insisting that tenants have their benefit paid to a Credit Union which offers ‘jam jar’ accounts is one, or using the Tasker Payment service is one.

It is arguable that this is a better option than having benefit paid direct to the landlord, as then the benefit office is unable to ‘clawback’ the benefit from the landlord if it later turns out that there has been an over payment.

A good blog on a subject more characterised by screams about landlords being evil than anything that might actually help house the homeless. Plus Tessa finishes with something we all know:

Another reason why the government needs to start building.

Although I would add "in London and the South East" - a point well made in the comments to the blog.


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