Young renters likely to have tough task finding places to live

Younger people will have more difficulty finding rented accommodation in coming months as a substantial proportion of landlords actively cut back on renting to under-35s.

That’s the warning from the Residential Landlords Association which says that although nearly all landlords are willing to rent to under-35s, nearly a third are changing their letting strategy to ensure that they have security of rent payment.

The RLA and Sheffield Hallam University have conducted research involving nearly 2,000 mostly individual private landlords.

It found that 79 per cent of landlords who let to under-35s cited the higher risk of rent arrears as a reason for reducing the numbers in this category that they took on as tenants.

Two-thirds of landlords are not willing to let to under-35s on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and 44 per cent are not willing to let to students. Amongst landlords whose lettings practice had been affected by the extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate to all under 35s in 2012, 68 per cent had reduced or stopped letting to under-35s on benefits.

Four-fifths of landlords who continued to let to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit claimants had put in place additional safeguards, the most common being the use of guarantors or asking for direct payment to the landlord.

When asked what would encourage them to increase lettings to under-35s, landlords called for a reversal of recent tax increases, providing tax relief for longer tenancies and the better administration, and direct payment to the landlord, of housing costs under welfare payments.

By far the most popular initiative that landlords wanted to see to encourage them to take on more younger tenants was the introduction of bond or rent deposit schemes under which organisations such as local authorities and charities offer loans to tenants to cover the cost of deposits.

“We’ve already held constructive talks with the government about this and we will keep the situation under review, but there’s a need for policymakers to engage further with landlords to consider what more action can be taken to address this decline. Without this many under-35s are likely to struggle to access accommodation” says RLA chairman Alan Ward.

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