Experts spurn calls for landlords to embrace benefits claimants
A rental agency boss has encouraged private landlords to embrace tenants on benefits and believes it can result in long and secure tenancies.
Mish Liyanage, CEO of Pick My Pad (picturewd), says many tenants on benefits want affordable accommodation in the private sector and don’t want the hassle of dealing with housing benefit.
“They want the convenience of it being sorted for them,” he says. “Although many understand that they need to apply for housing benefit, they prefer if the landlord or an agent can assist them with doing this on their behalf.”
Liyanage does warn that landlords need to educate themselves about DSS tenants’ requirements including the system and payment cycle.
“With this knowledge, they can run a very successful tenancy, but without the right know how, landlords could in the worst-case scenario, lose money.”
But Universal Credit expert Bill Irvine warns that it’s a bit of a lottery renting to UC tenants with many really experienced landlords losing a lot of money at the moment. “Due to Covid, the DWP are over-run and can’t escalate problems,” Irvine tells LandlordZONE.
“It can take six months to go down the complaints route. Plus, councils are losing staff or making people redundant which is having an impact on housing benefit.” He adds: “If you’re filling in all the forms for tenants you’ll be charging for that and it’s very time consuming.”
David Alexander, MD at agent DJ Alexander, has also cast doubt on suggestions that landlords could let out their property to a benefit claimant and, if they start to fall behind on the rent, the local council will step in to plug any shortfall.
He believes such a scheme might lead to a backlash from taxpayers, who are effectively funding it. “It is highly likely that income from benefit claimants being literally guaranteed by the government would lead to a surge in buy-up of property for rental purposes, thus threatening the balance between this and the amount of stock available for owner-occupation,” says Alexander.