Letting Agents Turn Away Tenants On Housing Benefits

Shelter and the National Housing Federation found one in 10 agents in England refused to let to those on benefit.

The covert investigation discovered the policy was implemented even if tenants could afford the rent.

Stephen Tyler told the BBC that housing benefit discrimination had forced him to sleep in his car.

The wheelchair user told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that they’d endeavoured to find accommodation since they were ousted from their last property when they asked for adaptions to be made for wheelchair access.

He said that he called anything up to 20 landlords, estate agents, a day and none of them would accept DSS, tenants on Department of Social Security housing benefits.

The Birmingham resident said he’d approached his council as well as housing associations, but no one wanted to help at all.

A spokesman for Mr Tyler’s local council, Birmingham City, stated it had offered him suitable alternative accommodation, and it added that while this was far from an ideal situation, and that it was no doubt distressing for Mr Tyler and his family, unfortunately, they were faced with a national housing crisis which was affecting an unprecedented number of families across the region.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said that this ugly undercurrent of discrimination was wreaking devastation on hundreds of thousands of people’s lives and that DSS was an obsolete and outrageous illustration of heinous discrimination.

The investigation into 149 regional letting agent branches discovered five of England’s leading letting agents were discriminating against tenants on housing benefit and Haart was the worst culprit.

Mystery shoppers, deployed by the charities, had encountered a prohibition on housing benefit tenants in eight out of 25 Haart branches and a spokesman for Haart said that it wasn’t their policy to prohibit housing benefit tenants and that anyone who passes referencing checks can rent properties listed with their branches.

They continued that they regularly arrange tenancies for those claiming housing benefits and presently have 112 tenancies where this is the case, but this research had brought to light that some of their branches had been misinformed and were working to ensure that this policy was being followed across their network and that they were sorry for any occasion where this had not been the case.

Others named as having individual branch guidelines not to accept people on housing benefit were Bridgfords (two out of 25 branches visited), Dexters (two out of 25), Fox & Sons (two out of 24) and Your Move (one out of 25).

The report said that nearly half of all branches contacted during the investigation said they had no suitable homes or landlords would not let to someone on housing benefit.

The report claims that a shortfall in social housing meant that an estimated 1.64 million adults depend on housing benefit to help cover private rents and it was said the preponderance were women, especially single mothers with childcare responsibilities, while people who received disability benefits were three times more likely to need a housing benefit top-up.

David Cox, chief executive of letting agents body Arla Propertymark said that rents are paid in advance, whereas housing benefit is paid in arrears, and thus with such a shortage of rental accommodation, landlords and agents will naturally pick a tenant who can pay the rent when it’s due, rather than a tenant who is always a month in arrears.

He said that they’ve called on the Government time and time again to fix this issue, but that their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

A Ministry of Housing spokesman said those on housing benefit who felt discriminated against could complain to redress schemes, which all letting and managing agents must be part of by law.

He added that they were determined to tackle stigma in social housing and the private rented sector and that they had published their Social Housing Green Paper setting out their strategies to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords.

Unfortunately, for the time being, disabled people and single mothers are still being discriminated against because of housing benefit discrimination and the Government and wider society do not care.

And the entire idea of letting agents is evil because they’re completely driven by money and can push rents up as much as possible because they get a percentage and this is making people homeless as the cost of renting gets higher and higher, and this is a more short-sighted governance – rents should be lowered then capped and capitalism sucks.

Margaret Thatcher came up with the concept of ‘Right To Buy’ and then Tony Blair became her poodle. And Right To Buy was fantastic for those who could afford it, but for others, it wasn’t such a good idea and it also the scheme meant they ceased building enough social housing.

The point is that council houses have not been built under any Government for many years – Conservative, Labour, whichever party you support, neither have bothered to think logically and now we have more people needing affordable rental properties and there’s not enough to go round, or they simply can’t afford them.

And what is going on is shameful and yet we call ourselves civilised, yet our Government are allowing this to happen and our Government are treating people like they’re not even human beings.

Published by Angela Lloyd

My vision on life is pretty broad, therefore I like to address specific subjects that intrigue me. Therefore I really appreciate the world of politics, though I have no actual views on who I will vote for, that I will not tell you, so please do not ask! I am like an observation station when it comes to writing, and I simply take the news and make it my own. I have no expectations, I simply love to write, and I know this seems really odd, but I don't get paid for it, I really like what I do and since I am never under any pressure, I constantly find that I write much better, rather than being blanketed under masses of paperwork and articles that I am on a deadline to complete. The chances are, that whilst all other journalists are out there, ripping their hair out, attempting to get their articles completed, I'm simply rambling along at my convenience creating my perfect piece. I guess it must look pretty unpleasant to some of you that I work for nothing, perhaps even brutal. Perhaps I have an obvious disregard for authority, I have no idea, but I would sooner be working for myself, than under somebody else, excuse the pun! Small I maybe, but substantial I will become, eventually. My desk is the most chaotic mess, though surprisingly I know where everything is, and I think that I would be quite unsuited for a desk job. My views on matters vary and I am extremely open-minded to the stuff that I write about, but what I write about is the truth and getting it out there, because the people must be acquainted. Though I am quite entertained by what goes on in the world. My spotlight is mostly to do with politics, though I do write other material as well, but it's essentially politics that I am involved in, and I tend to concentrate my attention on that, however, information is essential. If you have information the possibilities are endless because you are only limited by your own imagination...

6 thoughts on “Letting Agents Turn Away Tenants On Housing Benefits

  1. Whilst having much sympathy for these tenants unable to find a home, I thought the article omitted some important information. It has to be understood that for many small landlords, the property or properties is their pension pot so they cannot afford shortfalls in payment. Firstly, I would like to know whether (a) their are any statistics that demonstrate, or refute that tenants on benefits do not look after the property as well as other tenants, (b) the relevant Gov’t dept is inefficient at making rent payments and (c) why such rent payments are not made direct to the landlord or agent. More information is needed to balance this article.

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    1. According to a landlord survey by Your Move, almost half of landlords in the United Kingdom are pension pot landlords. There are no disagreements here, but you must also remember that there are about 1.56 million people unemployed in the United Kingdom and if things carry on at the pace that they are, then we will have vagrants on every street corner – oh, I completely forgot, we already have!

      The problem is the Government more than it is the landlords, although it’s still discrimination, not by the landlord itself but by the estate agent themselves and there would be no need for this discrimination if the Government changed their policies, however, they seem to continually refuse.

      Generally, pension pot landlords are keen to build a personal rapport with their renters because the renter is looking after their investment and if we provide long term benefits to tenants, those tenants will look after the property because it’s a place they call “home” and also because they know they would lose their deposit, which in many cases is pretty extreme and generally speaking, we’re not all animals like you’re suggesting!

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      1. Your, not my suggestion that people are animals! You failed to respond to my other equally important points and you do not seem to understand that landlords are not charities (I am not a landlord). In my view, flogging council and housing association properties is largely to blame for the current situation plus the fact that rents paid by taxpayers on behalf of tenants should be made direct to the landlord. In my view, failing to pay your rent is no different to theft.

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      2. I was not implying that landlords were charities, and of course, you’re right, they should not have sold off council properties, but then you seem to be blaming me when you should be blaming Margaret Thatcher, although I’m sure you might have a difficult time digging her up so that you could have this discussion with her!

        It also appears that your gripe is the fact that taxpayers have to finance council and private rents. I’m not going to debate with you there, but that seems to be some of the reasons why we pay our taxes, along with weapons and genocide.

        If you feel that you need to complain about tax and the payers that pay it, then I recommend you contact your local MP or Boris Johnson himself – good luck with that one!

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  2. problem with renting to people on benefits is should they break the rules for receiving benefits eg working,the benefits of rent payments is stopped and the landlord is left high and dry.
    Im speaking from experience.

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    1. I wasn’t sure what you meant by ‘breaking the rules for receiving benefits’.

      Typically, people on benefit are on benefit because they genuinely need it.

      You are right though, numerous claimants might have their rent stopped for one reason or another, although this should not be the case if the benefit is stopped, because normally, housing benefit continues unless the claimant has been denied benefit indefinitely, but usually, that’s not the case and there’s normally a break in the benefit which means that if housing benefit did cease, it would be back paid bar one week, which the claimant would have to pay out of their pocket.

      Unfortunately, for those people that want to rent out their properties, it’s a precarious business, and anyone going into this should go in with their eyes wide open.

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