Council highlights problems for housing benefit tenants

by Sarah Ashcroft

Newham Council has pointed out that landlords often refuse to offer a tenancy agreement to tenants who receive housing benefit, which is why it is struggling to place families in private homes.

The Labour-run council claims it cannot afford to find homes within the borough because of the new housing benefit caps, which limit support for four-bedroom houses at £400 a week.

Housing minister Grant Shapps had previously claimed there are hundreds of properties in the Newham area that fall under the cap.

However, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has suggested the situation could get even more complicated for social housing providers.

A recent survey by the organisation showed that more than half of landlords can no longer afford to rent properties to housing benefit tenants because of cuts to the allowance.

Over two-thirds (69 per cent) of landlords do not believe they will be offering local housing allowance (LHA) tenants homes past 2015.

Worryingly, landlords could soon face even further restrictions as a result of new licensing proposals being considered by Newham.

Speaking to the Telegraph, NLA chairman David Salusbury noted: "Housing availability is also likely to be further damaged if Newham’s plans to impose borough-wide licensing and planning restrictions go ahead.

"This will introduce huge uncertainty for landlords considering much-needed investment in Newham’s housing."

However, he also believes that private landlords will play an increasingly central role in the provision of LHA tenancies.

"It is vital that local authorities work with landlords to provide the support services needed to help this demographic, as many are forced to move into shared accommodation."

Tenants under the age of 35 are expected to be hit hardest by the changes, because they are often ineligible for other forms of support.

Under recent regulatory changes, the age at which a tenant qualifies for anything larger than a single room in a shared house has been raised from 25 to 35.

This has already seen many more people forced into shared accommodation, no doubt requiring landlords to adapt their businesses to accommodate this.

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Published on: April 27, 2012

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