A campaign kicked off today by Shelter to end discrimination against tenants on housing benefits by letting agents has been criticised by NALS as ‘vilifying’ agents and being ‘emotive conjecture’.
The campaign, which claims that preventing tenants from renting homes because they are on benefits is scandalous and potentially illegal, has named branches of Ludlow Thompson and also Haart as having issues with these tenants.
Shelter and the NHF’s campaign has now featured on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC1, the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live this morning.
On Radio 4’s Today programme the National Landlords Association’s Chief Executive Richard Lambert (left) was asked to comment on the allegation that Ludlow Thompson operates an outright ban across its business.
“I think it’s disturbing – I believe there is a great deal of difference between saying ‘I am not even going to consider you for a tenancy because you are on benefits’ and saying ‘I’ve credit referenced you and looking at your income, I am not convinced you are capable of paying the rent regularly enough’,” he said.
“That happens a lot because benefit levels have not kept up with rent increases after being frozen in 2011.”
NALS has today got behind letting agents, saying that the majority of them are professionals and skilled at managing housing benefit and universal credit tenancies.
“Many agents help prospective and existing tenants obtain access to the benefits they are entitled to,” says Isobel Thomson, CEO of NALS (right).
“An assumption that there is widespread discrimination, particularly of women and disabled people on benefits, is emotive conjecture and fails to paint an accurate picture of the sector. In some areas tenants on benefits form agents’ client base.
“Vilification of letting agents and landlords will not resolve housing problems where the provision of sufficient social housing is at the heart of the matter. The complexity of the benefits system and delays in payment add to the difficulties.”