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Gov Insist Direct Payment Deal Is Bringing PRS Rents Down

Lord Freud, the Government welfare reform minister, has claimed that the majority of UK landlords of benefits tenants have dropped their PRS rental prices in return for getting direct payments.

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

The “out of touch” statement does not reflect what is really happening in the UK Private Rental Sector or the rise of PRS rents and is giving misleading information to existing landlords.

The Government temporarily extended the discretion of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords last April when caps to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) were introduced, paying a maximum of £400 a week for a four-bed property.

Private sector landlords were told that they could only receive direct payment for tenants claiming benefits if they lowered their PRS rent. This simply is not true!

According to the essential landlords handbook written by theLHAexpert.com – UK Landlords can still receive direct rent payments for tenants claiming benefit if the tenant is classed as vulnerable.

Speaking at the National Landlords Association (NLA) annual conference, Lord Freud said “The measure has been very successful. In London alone, a third of claimants who tried to renegotiate their rent received a rent cut. This arrangement will stay in place for housing benefit claimants, prior to the move to Universal Credit. There has been no mass exodus of people moving out of city centres or widespread homelessness because of our housing reforms.”


Hmmm… I was under the impression that some local authorities had been criticised for shipping families out of their boroughs, in a bid to avoid local authority overspending on PRS rents…and London is the worst culprit!

In a report titled “Between A Rock And A Hard Place: The Early Impacts Of Welfare Reform On London”,by the Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, found that many councils are actively considering obtaining accommodation elsewhere, while others believe that making up private rent shortfalls will leave the authorities with gaping holes in their budgets. The report also predicts that 124,480 London residential households will be hit by a combination of cuts to Local Housing Allowance, the new benefit cap which means no household can claim more than £26,000 a year in total, and under-occupation penalties.

According to a survey in the Guardian, some London councils are already acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Sussex, and are considering accommodation in Manchester, Hull, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

This is despite guidance issued by former government housing minister, Grant Shapps telling councils in May 2012, that they must “as far as is reasonably practicable” offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough.

Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs last January at Prime Minister’s Questions that housing benefit reform had brought private rent levels down, a claim repeated last month by, newly appointed, government housing minister, Mark Prisk.

Local councils in London say that because of buoyant demand, Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords see no reason to drop rents for benefits tenants, and that many landlords have already refused to accept applications from tenant’s claiming benefits.

So Mr Cameron does refusing tenant’s on benefit qualify as reducing LHA rents?

Just because there has been a drop in Government and local authority spending on LHA payments, it does not support the Governments claims. The real truth is that the Government are putting the squeeze on the UK PRS as they fear that landlords will make more profit than the government can either control or even tax.

Such a shame that the people who are supposed to be in charge of our country are so out of touch with the real world, especially in the wake of Friday’s post about “Record Rental Prices”.

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