Currently viewing the tag: "local housing allowance"
RLA Hit Back At Rent Control Calls

RLA Hit Back At Rent Control Calls

Rent Controls Are Not The Answer
To The UK Housing Shortage

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have hit back at politicians and housing and homeless pressure groups who are openly calling for rent controls in the UK’s private sector by claiming that private sector rents are falling in real terms following analysis of the official English Housing Survey (EHS).

The English Housing Survey (EHS) results are taken from a continuous survey conducted by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) and show that average private sector rents increased by just £10 from £153 to £163 (GBP) per week in 2014, representing a rise of 6.5%.

In contrast, average weekly rents in the UK’s social sector increased by more, with weekly rental prices increasing 25.4%, rising by £18 from £71 to £89 (GBP).

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New LHA Rates for 2014 -2015 Published

New LHA Rates for 2014 -2015 Published

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Rates Change In April

Every year the Government publish Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates that are periodically reviewed and payment levels in some UK regions may change without notice.

The April 2014 – March 2015 LHA rates have now been published and the revised list makes interesting reading for landlords and letting agents who are willing to accept tenants claiming benefits.

UK private rental sector landlords are able to ensure rental property profits by allowing their properties to be let to tenants claiming housing benefit (HB), with local authority rental payments exceeding buy-to-let mortgage payments.

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Mystery Of Missing £400,000 Housing Benefit Payments

Mystery Of Missing £400,000 Housing Benefit Payments

R2R Company Owes Landlords £400,000 Housing Benefit Payments

Around £400,000 (GBP) in housing benefit payments have mysteriously disappeared after being paid to London Housing Solutions one of London’s biggest property agents, who specialise in letting property to tenants claiming benefits, Channel 4 News have revealed.

Channel 4 News attempted to trace both the present and former directors of the company, who admitted that the money had gone astray, but neither would accept responsibility for its disappearance.

Local Housing Solutions, an offshoot of London Housing Solutions, who until recently shared offices and staff in Catford also denied benefiting from the missing payments.

Channel 4 News understands at least 100 private rented sector landlords are owed rent by London Housing Solutions and the tenants spoken to by Channel 4, fear eviction as a result of the non payments.

The two rent 2 rent companies were originally set up by Keith MacGregor, who failed to respond to Channel 4 News’ accusations.

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TV Show 'Benefits Street' Stigmatising The LHA MarketTV Show ‘Benefits Street’ Stigmatising
The LHA Market

 Channel 4’s highly controversial ‘Benefits Street’ is stigmatising the LHA market and misrepresenting tenants according to Aki Ellahi, Director of Dssmove.co.uk and his statement has sparked a huge debate on PIN Academy, a private members forum. 

The heated debate also covers the fallout after Fergus Wilson, the Kent-based professional landlord, recently announced that he will no longer be accept benefit tenants due to increasing rent arrears. 

Many property investors feel that the Channel 4 docu-soap and the media rhetoric surrounding Mr Wilson’s decision are giving a heavily distorted impression of the UK’s LHA market, much to the chagrin of other property professionals. 

Aki Ellahi has stated that:

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Former Deputy PM Wants Action Against Rogue Landlords

Former Deputy PM Wants Action Against Rogue Landlords

Former Deputy PM Reckons “Rachmanism” Is Back!

We need to take action against private landlords and protect society’s most vulnerable people” – John Prescott

Former deputy PM, John Prescott has used his weekly column in the Sunday Mirror to hit out at rogue landlords in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS).

Mr Prescott wrote: “We tackled Rachmanism through legislation, housing finance and building more local authority housing. But 50 years later Rachman lives on in a new generation of unscrupulous landlords. More than a million rented homes in the private sector are now substandard. But for years, the taxpayer has subsidised them through housing benefit. Research has revealed that at least 36% of London’s council houses sold off by the Thatcher government are now in the hands of private landlords. Rents are at their highest ever to maximise obscene profits.”

Peter Rachman was a Polish migrant, who earned the poor reputation of being the archetypal slum landlord, because he subdivided houses into flats and rooms, forced paying tenants out of their properties to replace them with migrants from the West Indies, as it was easier to charge the migrants higher rents because they weren’t covered by UK rent protection legislation.

Mr Prescott also commented on mega landlord, Fergus Wilson’s decision to evict tenants on benefits and rent to Eastern Europeans instead, writing: “We pay out £9.3 Billion (GBP) in housing benefit every year. It helped people like Wilson build their property empires. But cuts to these benefits and the introduction of the bedroom tax means they’re looking to maintain their margins. Now, only one in five landlords rents to people on benefits. Cutting benefits has led to landlords kicking out the poorest people in society. We must get tough and follow Newham Council’s lead by licensing all private landlords to stop them kicking out the vulnerable to feather their own nests.”

It appears that the former deputy PM must have had a small lapse in his memory because it was the Labour government that introduced Local Housing Allowance, (LHA) – which replaced housing benefit and slashed the amount of money that tenants in private rented sector properties could claim towards housing costs, paving the way for the current unpopular bedroom tax that is affecting tenants in the social housing sector. The Labour government also introduced the ATOS Work Capability Assessments that have been attributed to the welfare reforms that the UK is also currently seeing.

Owning rental properties and letting them to tenants is a business and rental prices are dictated by local area demand as well as the LHA rates in each region, so it is unfair of the former deputy PM to tar all landlords with the same brush. Yes there are some unscrupulous landlords out there, and there are unscrupulous bankers and businessmen too, but they are not being targeted by former politicians who use the media to their own ends.

Wind your neck in 2 Jags, and stick to commenting on matters that you know about, rather than wading into a debate on which you know very little!

Discretionary Payments Scandal

Discretionary Payments Scandal

70% Of Local Authorities Spend Less Than Half  Of Discretionary Payment Pots

Official Government figures suggest that 70% of UK local Authorities are committed to pay out less than half their emergency hardship fund or discretionary housing payments pots by the midpoint of the current financial year.

The figures were confirmed following further research by Inside Housing published in November, which found many local authorities were on course to hand back millions of unspent discretionary housing payment funds in April 2014.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, released on Friday 20th December 2013, show one in six local authorities have committed to pay out less than a quarter of their DHP pots.

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MP’s Claim Universal Credit Is Another Government White Elephant

MP’s Claim Universal Credit Is Another Government White Elephant

Universal Credit Roll-Out faces major delays

The current Local Housing Allowance (LHA) benefit system is likely to continue until at least 2017 for the majority of private rental sector (PRS) landlords and tenants in most of the UK, following major delays to the roll-out of the new Universal Credit system.

Universal Credit was originally due to be rolled out nationally to all new tenants claiming benefits from October this year, however due to continued problems, the controversial welfare reform measure will just be extended to an additional six jobcentres.

The delay is being blamed on poor IT by Government ministers, leading to claims that Universal Credit is just another Government white elephant.

Universal Credit was heralded by its proponents as an easier way to deliver state benefits including housing benefit or LHA and tax credits into one lump sum paid monthly to claimants, but its proposal saw an immediate backlash from PRS landlords, letting agents and landlord associations over the abolition of direct rent payments to landlords.

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More Home Owners Move To Private Rental Sector

More Home Owners Move To Private Rental Sector

Many new tenants in the private rental sector are former home-owners who have opted to become tenants due to the increasing financial pressures associated with home ownership.

In fact more people are quitting home ownership to become private tenants, than are leaving the private rental sector to become home-owners.

The “Generation Rent” trend was identified by the English Housing Survey, which estimated that there were 22 Million households in England in 2011/12.

The trend underlines the fact that home ownership levels in the UK have continued to fall over recent years as the number of households in private rental sector accommodation has increased.

  • 65% of property in the UK is owned by the occupiers
  • 17% are private rental sector properties
  • 17% are social housing

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Uncertainty Remains Over Recovery Of Universal Credit Rent Arrears

Uncertainty Remains Over Recovery Of Universal Credit Rent Arrears

The UK Government are to introduce a mechanism to automatically recover rent arrears, alongside the direct payment of housing benefit to tenants.

Details released last week by the government explained that under the welfare reforms landlords will now be able to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to request Universal Credit benefits designed to cover housing costs of tenants are paid to them once a prescribed level of rent arrears have been reached.

At this point the DWP will recover the arrears by docking universal credit payments to tenants.

In its response to a Communities and Local Government (CLG) select committee report on the implementation of universal credit, the government says deductions can be up to 5% under existing legislation, but the government are considering whether this level of deduction is appropriate for tenants claiming universal credit, or if it should be increased in the future.

Under the new universal credit scheme, which is being rolled out nationally in the UK from autumn 2013, a range of benefits, including Housing Benefit (HB) or Local Housing Allowance (LHA), will be combined into a single monthly payment termed “Universal Credit”.

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New Report Backs Welfare Reforms

New Report Backs Welfare Reforms

Research from an independent consortium led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University covering the impact of recent Housing Benefit reform in the private rented sector was published on Monday 13th May.

The report examined the attitudes of tenant claimants and private rented sector buy-to-let landlords in 19 areas across the UK, following the Housing Benefit and Welfare Reforms that were ordered by the coalition Government in April 2011.

Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform said:”Reform of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector was absolutely necessary to control a system that saw spending double over a decade to more than £20 Billion (GBP) a year. However, it is also necessary to monitor and follow the reforms to help us build and learn for the future”.

Ian Cole, Professor of Housing Studies at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), said:”This report provides findings from in-depth interviews undertaken with tenant claimants, landlords and housing advisors in early stages of the implementation of the reforms.

The CRESR also conducted separate analysis of all UK Housing Benefit claims to provide an insight to the initial impacts of the welfare reforms across the UK.

The CRESR report finds:

  • Large numbers of tenants claiming benefits have not been forced to move out of rental properties during the study
  • In 120 UK local authority areas, overall reductions to a tenant’s Housing Benefit / Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have been averaged at £5 (GBP) or less
  • The extra £130 Million (GBP) of support from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to local authorities to help tenant claimants with Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) has assisted tenant claimants well where Housing Benefit / LHA reductions have been greater than the national average.

The consortium is led by Ian Cole, Professor of Housing Studies, from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. Other key team members included Peter Kemp of Oxford Institute of Social Policy, Carl Emmerson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Ben Marshall from IPSOS-MORI.

The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University is one of the UK’s leading academic research centres specialising in social and economic regeneration, housing and labour market analysis.

The consortium’s research started in April 2011 and will run until this Autumn (2013) and covers the effects of:

  • Setting Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates from the median to the 30th percentile of local market rents from April 2011
  • Capping Local Housing Allowance rates by property size from April 2011 to:
    • £250 per week for 1 bed
    • £290 per week for two bed
    • £340 per week for three bed
    • £400 per week for four bed or more
  • The increased Government contribution to the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) budget
  • Increased powers of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords to support tenant claimants in order to retain and secure tenancies in the private rental sector.
  • Allowing an additional bedroom within the size criteria used to assess Housing Benefit claims in the Private Rented Sector where a disabled person, or someone with a long-term health condition, has a proven need for overnight care and it is provided by a non-resident carer who requires a bedroom.

The full research ‘Monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance system of Housing Benefit: Interim report’ is available here: Monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance system of Housing Benefit: Interim report

The Scottish Government along with the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) and Welsh Assembly Government are working in close partnership with the DWP and each contributing to the costs of the review.

Further CRESR reports are expected to be published in early 2014.

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