16:55 PM, 10th March 2011, About 12 years ago 7
Tenants picking up housing allowances to pay their rents should have the choice to pay their landlords direct, says the Residential Landlords Association.
The RLA has lobbied strongly for the government to let landlords receive direct rent payments instead of giving the money to tenants.
The RLA plea comes as MPs sit down to debate the controversial Welfare Reform Bill, which includes several clauses about housing allowance put forward by Iain Duncan Smith.
Recommendations in the bill include capping housing allowance payments at 80% of the average local rent. Other proposals include setting maximum weekly payments for private rented accommodation based on the number of bedrooms in the home.
Homes with five or more bedrooms would not qualify for any housing allowance.
The RLA alleges many tenants on housing allowance are in rent arrears because they opt not to pay the money they receive to landlords. The group also claims research shows many tenants would prefer their rent to be paid direct so they had security of tenure and no arrears.
The government says paying allowances to tenants makes them responsible for managing their finances in the same way as tenants who do not receive any allowances and special arrangements should not apply.
Meanwhile, recent research by homeless charity Shelter concludes nearly all tenants (95%) who would like their allowances paid direct to their landlord have problems managing their money.
RLA chairman Alan Ward, said: “In opposition, the Conservatives supported the principle of tenant choice, believing it to be good for tenants seeking financial security and good for landlords, many of whom face unsustainable levels of rent arrears.
“As the government pursues an agenda of consumer and user empowerment and choice, the RLA is calling on the same principles to be applied to the private rented sector, with greater freedoms for tenants to choose what best meets their individual needs.”
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