Rent guarantees and upfront cash payments from local authorities are the most effective means of opening the private rented sector to tenants on benefits, claims a new report.
It’s been written by the Centre for Homelessness Impact, the Behavioural Insights Team and the National Residential Landlords Association.
The study found these guarantees and upfront payments had the greatest positive impact on landlords’ openness to renting to people in receipt of benefits; however the overall willingness of landlords to rent to those in receipt of benefits still remained relatively low.
The report claims that for many years, rising rents and shortages of social housing have put pressure on large numbers of people and families, significantly increasing housing vulnerability, especially for those receiving benefits.
This has been compounded by the increase in Universal Credit claimants during the pandemic – government figures show a doubling from 3m people in March 2020 to 6m today.
Now an online study of over 2,700 landlords across England and Wales has tested their views.
“The study indicates that the willingness of landlords to rent to people receiving UC remains low. Even with the strongest interventions, landlords’ willingness to let properties to people at risk of homelessness fell between ‘somewhat unlikely’ and ‘neutral’” says the report.
Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive, says: “The private rented sector can play a valuable role in providing longer term accommodation for those at risk of homelessness or struggling to maintain a tenancy. It is vital that policymakers heed the findings of this research to engage with landlords effectively and ensure they are confident that any risks they perceive will be addressed.
“As the research shows, the central element for landlords is continued rent payments. Government holds the key to this, through continuing to link local housing allowance to market rents, improving the administration of Universal Credit and better utilising guaranteed rent schemes at a local level. Without taking these vital steps, the government will not tackle the homelessness crisis.