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Shut out – Shelter

August 13, 2017

MORE than a million households in Britain are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020, owing to the benefit freeze and the escalating cost of rents in the private sector, this report suggests.

The housing charity has analysed the rising costs of private rentals across the country, and compared them with the maximum amount of housing benefit available. It forecasts that a million households will experience a growing shortfall, which could force them out of their homes — the majority of those affected are families with young children, the disabled, and pen­sioners.

More than a million private rent­ers currently have to- claim housing benefit to help cover the cost of their rent. Many of them are already in work, but, owing to high rents and slow wage-growth, they cannot meet the cost of even the cheapest homes without additional support.

Local authorities are also finding it increasingly difficult to find rented properties that are affordable for those on housing benefit.

It examines the wider housing market context, affordability and Local Housing Allowance rates, the attitudes private landlords have towards low-income tenants, and the upfront costs and additional hurdles that bar tenants who might have been able to afford ongoing rents. The briefing examines what current schemes are in place to assist people into accommodation and sets out recommendations for change. It is based on a review of current literature and interviews with advisers at Shelter advice hubs all over England to understand what is going on in different areas of the country.

The report said: “Growing numbers of households are both becoming homeless and being trapped for months or even years in temporary accommodation, Unable to find a new settled home.

The growing shortfall between benefit levels and private rents is greatest in London, but the problem is widespread elsewhere in the coun­try. Households who tried to in­crease their earnings to meet the shortfall would find their benefit cut further, trapping them. The level of housing benefit has been frozen until 2020.

Shelter has urged the Government to end the benefit freeze.

Quotations:

Every day I look at around 15 different estate agent sites online, trying to find properties. I find properties that would be suitable but they say no DSS, no pets, no smokers, no children. I speak to agents most days trying to plead my case and I buy local papers trying to find somewhere to live. But I have had no luck at all… God know what is going to happen to me, my son and my dog. The whole system is unfair, wrong and seriously needs to change. Landlords need to be more understanding with people receiving housing be nefit.” Mother of two, 46, former trainer for people with disabilitis

“The wife was a deputy headmistress, the husband stayed at home with their four children. The family tried to find other private rented housing but the prices had gone up so much since they had moved into their original place that they were no longer in the sort of situation where it was easy to get together the money upfront, as well as affording the actual rent. So things had really changed for them and they said ‘we never go anywhere for help but we don’t know what else we can do’.”

Mortgage lenders should stop barring landlords from renting to housing benefit claimants. UK housing charities should monitor the use of legislation in the Republic of Ireland to stop landlords barring housing benefit tenants from their properties

“There’s so many adverts for private rented that say ‘no DSS’ despite the fact that the DSS was scrapped donkey’s years ago. Especially the big estate agents. There are landlords that will take people on benefits but then the issue becomes the standard of those properties and the kinds of landlords that we’re dealing with.”

Reasons why landlords are reluctant to let to LHa claimants

Common reasons for prejudice against housing benefit claimants include media perceptions, bad experiences with tenants, rent arrears, market competition and mortgage requirements banning the renting to housing benefit claimants. Shelter’s survey of private landlords found that of those who preferred not to let to

LHA claimants:

  • 29% said this was because of stories from the media and other landlords
  • 21% said it was because they had let to LHA claimants in the past and had badexperiences with tenants paying rent
  • 14% said their mortgage companies did not allow it.

Other surveys have suggested landlord reluctance stems from fears about rent arrears and delays in housing benefit processing.

It’s online here

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