Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

by Property 118

12:00 PM, 14th February 2020
About 2 months ago

Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

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Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

Shelter Press Release:

Thousands of vulnerable private renters across Greater Manchester were boosted today as the £600,000 test and learn fund for Fair Housing Futures was announced.

The partnership project, hosted by the housing charity Shelter and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, aims to transform the way the private rented sector works for vulnerable* and low-income tenants across the region. Radical new schemes powered by the fund will help people overcome barriers to finding and keeping a private rented home.

Last year, the scheme called for bids from local organisations to improve private renting, and proposals flooded in. Five successful bids have now been announced, plus innovative plans for two new umbrella projects covering local authorities and landlords.

Shelter’s Roli Barker, project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said: “Every day our Shelter front-line services hear from people in life-changing trouble, as a total lack of social housing pushes more and more people into unstable private rentals. Private rented homes can be hard to secure and impossible to afford. The insecurity and threat of eviction can be hugely disruptive for people, especially families with children or vulnerable people.

“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity to create a network of local projects that gets right to the heart of the issues that can hurt vulnerable private renters every day. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.

The Fair Housing Futures project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a “broken” private rented system.

This research** has helped the project to allocate funding to organisations in Greater Manchester for the next two years, as they work to test and develop successful ideas that could be rolled out further, both locally and nationally.

In addition to the five main projects, Fair Housing Futures is also exploring how they can support landlords with a collaborative approach to the ideas they submitted.

And part of the funding will create an umbrella network for local authorities, as ideas are explored city-wide in a bid for the systemic impact the project demands.

Bridget Young, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “Fair Housing Futures is a collaborative project, using a local partnership approach to giving funding and support to projects that have ideas to improve life for renters. At the Nationwide Foundation, we have a long-term commitment to making sure everyone has a decent home that they can afford, and we’re thrilled that a part of this work is an attempt to transform the private rented sector in Greater Manchester.

“We look forward to learning from the test and learn fund projects and working with Fair Housing Futures to change things for the better in Greater Manchester and then share that learning further afield.”

Andrew Beeput, Chief Officer at The Bond Board, explained: “The aim of our project is to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits that some landlords still have, so that more people can access housing in a system that works better for tenants, letting agents and landlords.

“Housing benefit changes have left many private landlords feeling isolated and confused, often becoming more reluctant to rent to low-income families, who continue to struggle in desperate housing need.

“The role of our new Navigators will help support and train landlords and letting agents to develop their skills and knowledge, so we can increase opportunity for both landlords and tenants.

“And our targeted outreach work will help more tenants on low incomes to find and keep a home and to build better relationships with their landlords. Through the Nationwide Foundation funding we believe we can bring together all the players in the private rented sector, to leave a legacy of a better, fairer system.”

* The project’s working definition of vulnerability is based on the 2018 report Vulnerability amongst Low-Income Households in the Private Rented Sector in England, David Rhodes and Julie Rugg (University of York), which defined those vulnerable in the PRS as households at greater risk of harm for reasons that include, and in some instances combine, economic status and income, age, health and household demographic characteristics. The report considers households to be vulnerable in the PRS if they fall into one of the six vulnerable categories (people with dependent children, long-term illness or disability, the older aged, those in receipt of means-tested and non-means-tested benefits, and recent migrants) and experience at least one of the three measurable harms: not meeting the bedroom standard (i.e. overcrowding), property standards (the quality of properties and the lack of options for lower income households) and After Housing Costs (AHC) poverty (the biggest problem for vulnerable households).

** A comprehensive and evidenced independent review of the issues in Greater Manchester’s private rented sector available here, from the Fair Housing Futures website.



Comments

Possession Friend

9:44 AM, 17th February 2020
About 2 months ago

See my comment and press reference ( on facebook @possessionfriend ) to Stoke Council applying Selective Licensing whilst they have the highest number of Unfit Council housing stock.

LANDLORD 35

15:34 PM, 17th February 2020
About 2 months ago

Surely the Manchester Selective Licensing scheme sorted out
"Poor conditions"?

JJ

16:06 PM, 17th February 2020
About 2 months ago

On: “The aim of our project is to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits that some landlords still have....tenants, letting agents and landlords....
our new Navigators will help support and train landlords and letting agents....so we can increase opportunity for both landlords and tenants.

Firstly, I still think they need to be training tenants on their responsibilities, not just landlords.

Secondly, if they are training landlords there remains the issue that as the law presently stands, if you let to a tenant on benefits who it subsequently transpires is not eligible for benefits, Councils are presently permitted to claw the money back from the landlord.

Whilst I accept that some landlords manage to let successfully to tenants on benefits and have increased their level of expertise such that they can navigate the minefield that is the benefits system I cannot see how you would be able to adequately ensure that the tenant was not defrauding the benefits system: You simply wouldn't have sufficient access either to the property you were renting, or to the tenants' personal financial/benefits details. There would have to be some kind of online check that you could run, or certificate that you could rely on, enabling you to confirm that the tenant was eligible for benefits.

Ian Narbeth

10:56 AM, 19th February 2020
About 2 months ago

Landlords should be aware that the Generation Rent propaganda is seeping into government and local government. Take this from Hackney Council https://hackney.gov.uk/better-renting
"Renters need a stable home too. We want to see:
.... a ban ‘no tenants on benefits’ adverts – landlords who advertise that these should be prosecuted". Prosecuted for not wanting to entrust your house and your livelihood to someone with no assets living from hand to mouth. What about freedom of contract?
"landlord fines passed to councils – so they help the victims of bad landlords and invest in improving services to the private rented sector" Well they would want that, wouldn't they? It will give them ammunition to wage war on the very people they want to provide housing to residents in the borough.
Showing how behind the curve they are:
"Private rents in Hackney are unaffordable for so many people. We want to see:
no more letting fees and a limit on deposits of not more than three weeks rent – the government should stop fees charges as soon as possible and close loopholes that could allow letting agents to still charge excessive fees" Have they not read the dreadful Tenant Fees Act 2019? How does three weeks' rent adequately protect a landlord?
As is happening already, many landlords are getting out of the rental sector. Some will sell their properties to other landlords, a few to owner occupiers but some will just not rent them out, thereby removing properties from the market. With high rates of occupancy in the PRS (as an aside, contrast that with the many empty Council-owned properties there are), and as any economist will tell you if the supply reduces but demand remains the same or goes up, rents will inevitably rise compounding the problems for less well-off tenants, the very people Generation Rent, Hackney Council, Shelter and others profess to want to help.

JJ

11:08 AM, 19th February 2020
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 19/02/2020 - 10:56
As I recall Hackney Council has about 10 x the number of Labour Councillors as Conservative Councillors. So it probably doesn't matter what anybody says to Hackney Council about the effect that this would have on the private rented sector as you would almost certainly to be talking to a bunch of people who don't believe anybody should own anything anyway. Extreme left-wing people don't mind causing crises as to them socialism is the answer to everything anyway.

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