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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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Government’s Own Watchdog Warns Ministers Over Housing Mayhem

There will be a huge shortage of affordable Private Rented Sector (PRS) property for tenants claiming housing benefit if the Government Welfare reforms go ahead in the spring of 2013 as currently planned.

Welfare reform could lead to more Tenant Evictions

Welfare reform could lead to more Tenant Evictions

The warning has come from the Government’s own spending watchdog, the National Audit Office and has been backed by the British Property Federation (BPF), which says ministers should take action to stop UK Private Rented Sector (PRS) housing becoming unaffordable to tenants claiming benefits.

The National Audit Office says the danger comes from Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which is paid to benefit tenants in private rented accommodation, being calculated in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than local market rent inflation.

The National Audit Office says this could lead to a divergence between local area rents and benefits.

The British Property Federation reckons that Government ministers are aligning rents with the price of sausages.

By 2017 the National Audit Office warns that 48% of all UK local authorities could expect to have double the number of benefit applicants, than at present, looking for two-bedroom properties that they will not be able to afford.

Tenants currently claiming benefits may face financial hardship or even eviction when the proposed changes come into force.

From April 2013, the Government is set to change the way LHA increases are calculated, shifting its sums away from the 50th percentile of local market rents to either the Consumer Price Index or the 30th percentile of local market rents, whichever is the lower.

But knowledge among tenants about the proposed housing benefit changes is minimal, warns the report. Surveys of tenants living in private rented sector properties show that 87% know nothing or very little about the changes.

The report, ‘Managing the impact of Housing Benefit reform’, makes a series of recommendations, in particular that the Government should increase awareness of housing benefit and Universal Credit changes, particularly among those living in the private rented sector. The report also underlines that the National Audit Policy only analyses policy impact, but makes no comment on the policy itself.

The British Property Federation said the Government cannot ignore this report. Policy director Ian Fletcher said: “Since the cap was announced, we have expressed concern that the measure will rapidly and relentlessly erode what Local Housing Allowance will be for. This is because market rents have historically risen with earnings, rather than the basket of goods such as sausages and net curtains.”

The full report is here:http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/1213/housing_benefit_reform.aspx

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