The Residential Landlords Association has applauded the government’s announcement of an enquiry into Local Housing Allowance payments.
And chairman Alan Ward today called on the House of Commons Work and Pensions committee to restore tenants’ rights to choose who should receive the allowance – themselves or their landlords.
“Payment direct to tenants, who are then on trust to hand it to the landlord, has not worked,” he says. “Many such tenants are unable to manage the money they receive which can amount to several hundred pounds for four weeks' rent. And the problem becomes especially noticeable at Christmas as low-income tenants drift further into debt.
The result is that rent money tends to get absorbed by living expenses and never gets paid to the landlord. Once they get more than eight weeks in arrears landlords can then apply to have the allowance paid direct to the landlord – which means that an average of £2,000 in owed rent is effectively lost. Landlords can’t afford that sort of financial loss on a regular basis.
We want the government to be less rigid with the rules and tenants should be allowed to opt for rent money to be paid direct to landlords from the very start. That would avoid this problem for a majority of residential landlords in the private rented sector who have, as a result, become very wary of accepting housing benefit tenants”.
Earlier this year an exclusive website poll conducted by the Residential Landlords Association – which represents members owning over 100,000 private rented properties throughout the UK – revealed that an overwhelming 94 per cent of landlords would prefer that rent was paid directly to them.
“Otherwise,” added Alan Ward, “many of them could start refusing housing allowance claimants – and the amount of available housing would then shrink and shift serious pressure onto alternative forms”.
The Residential Landlords Association is a leading national organisation with members owning over 100,000 properties in the UK’s professional private rented sector. The range of members’ services - on www.rla.org.uk - includes legal advice, insurance, financial services, credit referencing and training.