14:03 PM, 9th January 2023, About 9 months ago 22
Housing Benefit is paid to tenants to cover their housing costs (sorry for stating the obvious). There would be numerous benefits to landlords, tenants, Gov.uk and local authorities if it were paid directly. So why is this not already official policy or on @RishiSunak’s To Do list?
How would it work?
A tenant who is entitled to Housing Benefit already has Benefit Decision Notice showing the amount. The Landlord receives a copy of this as part of Tenant vetting.
Tenant agrees the contract with the landlord.
Tenant and landlord forward a copy of the contract to the LA and landlord completes online application. Done!
At the end of the tenancy, both the tenant and landlord will be legally obliged to notify the LA to end the rent. HB is paid in arrears so there is at least a month to arrange this at the end of the tenancy.
Here are the benefits:
1 To landlords: local authorities will inevitably be better payers than a low-income individual.
2 To Gov.uk: Although the Local Housing Allowances are below market rents, security of payment would encourage many landlords to forgo the extra rent in return for payment security. Result: LHAs can remain low without affecting the availability of affordable housing.
3 To local authorities: Agreeing to pay landlords directly would give an immediate boost to the availability of affordable local housing and reduce evictions which are one of LA’s biggest headaches.
4 To tenants: Dramatic reduction in the number of evictions due to rent arrears and a significant improvement in the supply of accommodation, which in turn will affect rents.
5 To Court system: Instead of CC and High Courts choked with possession and debt cases from tenants who receive HB but use it for other things, the Courts could focus the much small number of cases of genuine need.
6 To benefits fraud: This would also put an end to the fraudster tenants who pocket the HB and spend it on other stuff while paying no rent – it’s illegal and should be prevented at source, rather than taking landlords 6-12 months, £1,000s and months of stress to get them evicted.
I genuinely cannot figure out a downside (except for the low-lifes mentioned in 6). Have I missed something?
Surely Gov.uk, Local Authorities, Shelter and Landlords can unite on this to make the system better for all those on benefits and receiving HB?
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