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Renters on housing benefit struggling to find homes

  1. 22 August 2018
  2. By Andi Michael

Homeless charity Shelter and the National Housing Federation have worked together to reveal discrimination against renters in receipt of housing benefit.

Calling 149 different rental branches of estate agents across the country, they found one in 10 had a ban rejecting housing benefit applicants.

They also discovered that 48% of those branches said they had no suitable homes available, or that the landlords were not willing to rent to those on housing benefit.

According to The Guardian, 1.6 million people rely on housing benefit to support paying private rents.

With the UK already suffering from a housing shortage, especially when it comes to social housing, being unable to find a rental property due to receiving government support can be discriminatory.

Considering the increase in homelessness in the UK since 2010 is up 169% (Crisis Homeless monitor) this may be something estate agents have a responsibility to work on.

A spokesperson from Shelter explained they did not expect ‘letting agents should just take anyone one’ but that housing benefits claimants with clean records, often lasting for many years, should not be dismissed because they receive support.

On a practical level, letting agents have blamed government policy for standing in the way of landlords renting to housing benefit claimants – housing benefit is paid in arrears, but rents are paid in advance. It is not surprising that a private landlord would choose a tenant who has money upfront.

Shelter are concerned that this may be a breach of the 2010 Equality Act, with the majority of people affected by this rejection being women and people with disabilities.

COO of reallymoving, Rosie Rogers says, ‘Shelter raises an important issue about tenants on housing benefits being denied access to the market. In addition to the lettings agencies, we also suggest educating landlords regarding the advantages to tenants on housing benefits who move less, have the ability to pay and therefore leave fewer rental voids’.

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