9:36 AM, 6th April 2023, About 11 months ago 17
Propertymark, the body for letting agents, says ‘enough is enough’ and is calling for an end to the freeze on local housing allowance (LHA) and it wants more support for renters.
The organisation’s policy and campaigns officer, Tim Thomas, made the announcement to MPs at a Westminster Hall debate covering LHA.
The allowance provides tenants with enough financial support through the benefits system to afford the cheapest 30% of housing in an area, adjusted for household composition.
However, despite interest rate and energy price rises, and with the supply of private rented homes remaining stagnant as demand continues to grow, rents have inevitably risen – but the LHA has remained static since 2020.
Propertymark says that renters on benefits are being priced out of the market.
Among supporters for the move in the debate was Hywel Williams MP and Propertymark says the LHA should be set at least the 30th percentile – if not the 50th percentile.
The allowance should also be ‘topped up annually to keep up with market rents’ and its proposals are part of Propertymark’s Spring Budget Representation to HM Treasury.
The organisation has also teamed up with organisations in Wales as part of the ‘Homes for All Cymru’ coalition which also wants to end the LHA freeze.
Mr Thomas said: “New research undertaken by the Bevan Foundation has found that only 1.2% of properties that were advertised for rent between 3 February 2023 and 17 February 2023 in Wales were available at or below Local Housing Rates.
“In total there were only 32 properties advertised on the market that were fully covered by Local Housing Allowance rates, with no properties at all being on the market at Local Housing Allowance rates in 16 of Wales’s 22 local authorities.”
He added: “This issue is being seen across the board, with recent research conducted by Crisis and Zoopla showing that just 11% of one-bedroom properties in England are affordable on Local Housing Allowance, down from 17% in April 2022.
“The proportion of affordable two-bedroom properties has fallen to just 7% from 11%, and for three-beds now stands at a shocking 6%, down from 10%.”
As part of Propertymark’s lobbying and stakeholder work, it has seen member agents submit their rental data to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to help improve rental data that reflects fair LHA rates.
Accurate rental data can also impact loans, mortgages, investments, pensions, benefits and numerous other products therefore it is essential regardless of the size of a landlord’s portfolio or of an agency.
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