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UK Government to argue the case for Welfare Reform in the House of Lords

Government to argue the case for Welfare Reform in the House of Lords

The coalition Government face another battle over welfare reforms, this time in the House of Lords.
The outcome will affect individuals and families in receipt of local housing allowance (LHA) or housing benefit, who are in private rented sector (PRS) properties.

The Welfare Reform Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, is set to cap total benefits for working age households at £26,000 a year.

The total payment would include the present Local Housing Allowance, paid to housing benefit tenants in private rented sector accommodation.

However, a number of peers fear this would disproportionately hit larger families with children in temporary and private rented sector housing.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Reverend John Richard Packer, has tabled an amendment which would exclude child benefit for the purposes of the benefit cap.

Lord Richard Best who is also supporting the amendment said: “I don’t think it’s conceivable for families with children to be evicted and become destitute because a benefit cap means there’s nowhere they can afford to live.”

The amendment is expected to go before the Lords next week (January 23rd 2012), and is likely to gain support from many areas, including Liberal Democrat peers who have previously rebelled against the Government.

The UK government’s welfare reforms are bad news for both tenants and landlords. Struggling tenants already face mounting debts and real financial problems including the threat of eviction if they are unable to keep up with the rental payments and slip to more than 8 weeks in arrears.

This results in a double blow for landlords, not only do landlords have to suffer loss of income because the tenants have not paid the rent but also the further expense of court action to have the tenants evicted.

Tenant Evictions can be cost effectively handled by Legal 4 Landlords, who are the UK’s fastest growing eviction specialists who also offer a wide range of additional services for landlords including Rent Guarantee Insurance

No DSS for UK landlords

Landlords Don't Want Benefit Tenants

UK landlords have little confidence in the current Housing Benefit system and the majority would try to avoid accepting tenants in receipt of benefits due to the extra hassle and headaches that dealing with local authorities and local government departments cause.

Landlords claim that tenants who do not receive any form of welfare support are far more reliable when it comes to paying the rent on time and generally looking after the property.

The findings of a survey of over 1,000 UK landlords by flat and house share website Spareroom discovered that:

• 86% of Buy-To-Let landlords surveyed were against the welfare reform of the UK benefit system which since 2008 has automatically paid Local Housing Allowance (LHA) directly to the tenant, except under exceptional circumstances.
• 87% of UK landlords who accept tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit have had problems with the rent not being paid on time.
• 59% of landlords questioned state No DSS when advertising property to let

UK landlords were also asked why they would refuse DSS tenants,

• 11% of landlords have had benefit tenants who have stopped paying the rent.
• 30% believe working tenants are more reliable
• 47% did not want payment problems
(including late payments, no payment at all, issues arising from the suspension of benefit payments and/or damage to the property).
• 34% of landlords currently have LHA tenants in one or more properties
• 45% have previously taken in LHA tenants.
• 58% had previously experienced multiple problems with benefit tenants.
• 74% would refuse LHA tenants even if the tenant had a working, homeowner as a guarantor.

Director of Spareroom, Matt Hutchinson, said: “It’s clear from this survey that a shake-up of the current system of paying housing benefit to the tenant is desperately needed, and reverting back to the old structure, where landlords could receive rental payments directly from the council would be a step in the right direction.”

Legal 4 Landlords spokesman Sim Sekhon agreed; “The current LHA benefit system requires an overhaul as it causes many financial problems for landlords. Unless the tenants are in arrears and the local authority has agreed to make direct payments, the landlord has no guarantee of receiving the full rental payment from the tenant every month, unless they have Rent Guarantee Insurance.

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