A new and scathing report into government housing policy has laid bare the reality behind many landlords’ decision not to rent to tenants in receipt of benefits via ‘No DSS’ adverts.
Published by the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, it paints a picture of private landlords who are increasingly unhappy with extra regulation and reluctant to deal with tenants on benefits.
The report pins the blame for this position on the government, which it says has for years reduced investment in social housing and encourage the transfer of council houses to private ownership via Right to Buy.
These dual problems, compounded by baby-boomer landlords exiting the market and not being replaced by younger landlords, mean the private rented sector faces a challenging future.
Lead author of the project, Dr Julie Rugg (pictured), says the report shows the government a way out; there are many landlords who target tenants in receipt of Universal Credit both for altruistic reasons and also if they are paid their rent direct by the DWP and the rent is ‘guaranteed’.
But Rugg’s report also says that, in most areas where landlords have options, many are reluctant to rent to ‘DSS’ tenants, particularly given the looming government plan to abolish Section 21 notice evictions.
Also, landlords are reducing their housing benefit lettings and new landlords are less likely to let in this market: only 9 per cent of landlords in the market for three years or less said they currently let to people receiving housing benefit; for landlords letting for 11 or more years, this figure was 28 per cent.
“It’s a real concern that many good, professional landlords are no longer letting to housing benefit claimants because of the way that Universal Credit is administered,” says Rugg.
A spokesperson from the NRLA says: “No landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits.
“Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case-by-case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.
“More broadly, the Government needs to take action to give both tenants and landlords greater confidence that benefits will cover rents.”