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Benefit changes behind rise in homelessness – RLA

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  • 21/11/2018
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Benefit changes behind rise in homelessness – RLA
Changes to the benefit system are behind an increase in homelessness from private rented housing, according to a report.

 

The introduction of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in 2008 has fuelled homelessness, as the gap between rates and actual rents has increased, according to research for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

A quarter of landlords surveyed reported the gap at more than £100 per month.

The RLA said LHA rates have a ‘double whammy’ affect because tenants in receipt of housing benefit are more likely than other tenant groups to have their tenancy end.

These households then find it increasingly difficult to find suitable, affordable accommodation in the private rented sector.

The report also found that in cases where tenants are asked to leave their properties under section 21 notices, half of the notices are used where tenants have rent arrears, are committing anti-social behaviour or are damaging the property.

The research was carried out by the policy evaluation and research unit at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) for the RLA.

Dr Chris O’Leary, deputy director of the unit at MMU and a co-author of the report said: “Whilst current debate is focused on changes to the way that landlords reclaim possession of a property, this does not tackle reasons why they need to do so.

“With the demand for rented housing remaining high, our report calls for co-operation between councils, landlords and the government to support and sustain tenancies.

“This includes ensuring that benefits reflect the realities of today’s rents and work is undertaken to prevent rent arrears building in the first place.”

David Smith, policy director for the RLA added: “This report puts paid to the idea that landlords spend their time looking for creative ways to evict their tenants.

“Most landlords ask their tenants to leave to protect their property. It would be a bizarre business model indeed to search for ways to get rid of your customers.

“The private rented sector can play a key role not just in housing the homeless but preventing people becoming homeless in the first place.”

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