New research from the National Landlords Association has found that just 2 in 10 landlords say they are willing to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit.
The findings come on the day the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee questions the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about the roll out of Universal Credit. They show that the proportion of landlords who say they are willing to let their property to housing benefit claimants has fallen to just 20%, down from 34% at the start of 2013.
The research, taken from the NLA’s Quarterly Landlord Panel, also shows that two in three landlords who let to housing benefit recipients say they have fallen behind on rental payments in the last 12 months.
The NLA has already provided written evidence to the Committee’s inquiry, outlining some of the major problems the new system is causing landlords, and why so many are shying away from accepting Universal Credit tenants.
• 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, and
• The six week waiting period causing tenants to be two-months in rent arrears by the time of the first payment
The National Landlords Association (NLA) is calling on the Government to pause the national roll-out of its Universal Credit project and to lift the current freeze on housing benefit rates.
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of the NLA, said: “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.
If the Government is serious about helping then it needs to press pause on the roll out 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.”