Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Grenfell Tower Fallout

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
274 posts
Seek and ye shall find ?

Following on from what I've seen in Worksop , and gleamed from a couple of sources , the refusal of many landlords to consider letting to any tenants claiming benefits is now spreading up in the chain :

https://www.ftadviser.com/mortgages/201 ... e-tenants/

Yes ... The Financial Times ... a first :

Lenders deny plan to shun landlords with welfare tenants

Several major lenders have denied rumours they are planning to refuse to offer mortgages to buy-to-let landlords with tenants on universal credit.

The roll-out of the government’s new welfare system, which began in 2013, has led to a surge in the number of tenants in arrears, dealing another blow to a buy-to-let sector already struggling under the weight of recent tax and regulatory changes.

Universal credit consolidates six means-tested benefits, including housing benefit and jobseeker’s allowance, into one monthly payment, which is made as a lump sum into a claimant’s current account.

It is designed to make people better off accepting work by tapering the benefit, and to encourage people to take greater responsibility for their finances.

But a survey of almost 3,000 landlords with universal credit claimants as tenants by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) in March and April 2017 showed 38 per cent experienced tenants going into rent arrears – up from 27 per cent in 2016.

The average amount owed in rent arrears by universal credit tenants to private sector landlords is now £1,150, the RLA stated.

Claimants face a six-week wait before receiving their first payment, meaning they are already two months in rent arrears by the time of the first payment, the RLA stated.

Paul Shamplina, founder of eviction service Landlord Action, told FTAdviser: “The landlords we speak to on a daily basis through our advice line are increasingly concerned because for many, rent arrears could mean they fail to meet their obligations to lenders.

“Some lenders are even stipulating buy-to-let loans will not be available where tenants are benefit dependent and so as a result, landlords are focusing on private tenants where they can achieve higher rents and the risk of arrears is less.”

Many lenders do not lend to landlords with tenants who are welfare recipients, but a number of those that do said they had no plans to change their policies as a result of the switch to universal credit.

A spokesperson for Lloyds said: “Lloyds Banking Group does not have clauses that prevents landlords letting to tenants on benefits and we have no current plans to change this policy.”

A spokesperson for Accord, the Yorkshire Building Society’s intermediary arm, said they had no plans to change their current policy of lending to landlords who offer tenancies to renters who receive state benefits.

They added: “We are committed to providing people with a home of their own, including those who rent a property as well as buying one, because we believe that to build a successful future everyone needs a safe place to call home.”

Leeds Building Society also has no plans to change its current position, which is to consider rental income generated from tenants in receipt of benefits.

A spokesperson for Nationwide, whose buy-to-let arm The Mortgage Works (TMW) briefly stopped lending to landlords with tenants on housing benefit in 2013, said: "TMW does not have any restrictions in its terms and conditions on landlords letting properties to benefits claimants."

The words SMOKE and FIRE spring to mind.

If so , the future supply of properties for the BTL market , from a benefit claimants point of few , may be severly cut off.

New builds ? Still low numbers actually built for the BTL market.

Much will depend on how many BTL landlords service their repayments ... the UC rollout being the main consideration.

Too many in short term cash flow difficulties ?

The Lenders will clamp down ... as night follows day !

Add in the current restrictions and this problem will only escalate , and become a major " Disaster " before very long.

What does a benefit claimant do ... especially those UNABLE to work ?


Perhaps Cathy's granddaughter ... coming home ... with the same outrage that led to change ... and Shelter ?
Even more ... Huff Post for this one :

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/l ... 9f9edbfbb5

Landlords Confess Most Of Them Won't Rent To Universal Credit Claimants, Survey Finds

Critics claim proof landlords are 'shying away' from social security tenants.

The vast majority of landlords are unwilling to have Universal Credit claimants as tenants, a shock survey has found.

A stunning 80 percent of landlords say they are reluctant to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit, according to research from the National Landlords Association (NLA).

The study of 700 landlords showed the proportion willing to let their properties to those in receipt of any kind of housing benefit has fallen to just 20 percent, down from 34 percent at the start of 2013.

But the government’s Universal Credit programme director Neil Couling defended the system against the association’s claims.

He told a Commons Select Committee that during a reform to housing benefits in 2007, similar fears were raised by landlords but didn’t materialise.

Instead, he said, the proportion of private homes rented to tenants in receipt of benefits increased from 23 percent to 27 percent.

“My economic instinct is that this isn’t going to happen,” Couling said. “We’re not really concerned... of course we are looking at it.”

But Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said the survey was proof landlords were “shying away” from those on social security.

“This is further evidence of the failings of this Government’s Universal Credit programme,” she told HuffPost UK. “We know that the programme is driving debt, rent arrears and even evictions, causing landlords to shy away from tenants using social security.

“We must pause and fix the Universal Credit programme before it causes harm to millions of families.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “Shelter’s advisors are hearing from more and more people whose lives are being turned upside down by the many flaws with Universal Credit.

“If the government wants Universal Credit to fulfil its aim of helping people, it must immediately resolve the unnecessary delays and errors that are causing so much suffering.

“The housing element of Universal Credit is too low to keep up with the actual cost of private rents in much of the country, meaning even if people receive their benefits on time they could still lose their home.

“The government must lift the freeze on housing benefit in the Autumn Budget.”

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA, which represents private landlords, said the freeze worsens the situation for tenants.

“Underlying all the problems with Universal Credit is the freeze on housing benefit rates,” he said.

“We have long called for the freeze to be scrapped as it creates a barrier that prevents claimants from securing the housing they need.

“If the Government is serious about helping then it needs to press pause on the roll out of Universal Credit, and fix its underlying problems.”

Around 45 percent of the 610,000 current Universal Credit claimants receive a housing component in their monthly payments.

It comes after Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke announced the government will scrap controversial fees for the Universal Credit telephone helpline.

THE perfect storm is brewing ... almost from all known points on the compass.

That perfect storm has really brewed some more ... now , just a question of when ?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 47011.html

Fewer social homes being built than at any time since Second World War, official figures reveal.

Latest figures come as report finds 92 per cent of councils are not building enough affordable homes.

Fewer social homes are being built than at any time since the Second World War, new official figures have revealed.

Government data shows just 5,380 new social homes were completed across England last year – down from 6,800 the previous year.

The number has plummeted from 39,560 in 2010/11 – the year the Conservatives came to power.

The fall is in part a consequence of the Government’s decision to prioritise the building of affordable homes, which are around 30 per cent more expensive, over social homes.

Local authorities say extending the Right to Buy policy, which allows social housing tenants to buy their properties, and forcing councils to sell off their most valuable homes, has led to fewer new social homes being built.

Overall, however, the number of affordable homes being built, which includes homes at affordable rents and shared ownership properties, increased by 27 per cent.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: “With rents sky high and more than 250,000 people homeless in England, it’s clear to see just how bad our affordable housing shortage has become. This is largely due to handing near total control of our house-building to big developers who have little appetite for building affordable homes.

“The government has a real opportunity to set things right in the upcoming Budget, it can start by reducing the mammoth cost of land and closing loopholes which are draining the country of the affordable homes families are crying out for.

“It’s unacceptable that we’re building the lowest number of social homes since the Second World War, just as homelessness reaches 250,000 in England.”

Ministers have hinted they could shift away from current housing policy, which has seen funding for new social housing cut to zero and money instead diverted into other types of property, namely affordable homes.

At the Conservative Party conference last month, they announced an additional £2bn of spending on affordable housing. Some of this money will be used to build social homes, although the numbers forecast to be built are a fraction of what experts say is needed to meet demand.

Responding to the latest figures, Labour said immediate action was needed. John Healey MP, the party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said: “After the Grenfell Tower fire Theresa May admitted the Conservatives haven’t given enough attention to social housing. These shocking figures show she was right.

“The number of new social rented homes being built is now at the lowest level on record, and the number of new low-cost homes to buy is at just half the level it was under Labour. After seven years of failure on housing the Chancellor must use the Budget to tackle the housing crisis.”

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said: “These latest figures show progress but we know there is more to do. That’s why we have increased the affordable homes budget to more than £9bn and introduced a wider range of measures to boost building more affordable homes, supporting the different needs of a wide range of people.”

The latest figures were revealed as a new report found 92 per cent of local councils are not building enough affordable housing.

The study, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said only 67 per cent of local authorities are meeting their overall housing need and even fewer are delivering enough homes for people on low and middle incomes.

The study found that some areas are missing their housing targets by huge margins. The shortfall in Greater Manchester, for example, is 42 per cent – or 4,518 homes each year. The deficit is likely to be even higher in many parts of London and the South East.

The IPPR said the Government should lift borrowing limits on local councils in order to allow them to build more homes. It also called on ministers to divert money away from the Starter Homes initiative, which will see cut-price homes built for first-time buyers, and instead invest in new genuinely affordable homes for rent.

Darren Baxter, a researcher at the IPPR, said: “This analysis shows that not only are local authorities failing to build enough affordable homes, those which are being built are often out of reach of those who they are intended to support.”

As calls grow for the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to use the Budget later this month to launch a significant round of investment in state house-building, another think-tank, Civitas, said new “housing zones” should be created in areas where demand is highest and councils given the power to buy land at cheaper prices.

Arguing that making land available for housing more quickly “is the key to achieving a decisive breakthrough in the housing crisis”, Civitas said councils should be allowed to buy land at close to its current value rather than the value once potential future development is factored in.

Daniel Bentley, the think tank’s editorial director and author of the report, said: “The upfront costs of development could be very much reduced by reforming the land compensation rules and allowing public authorities to buy land at prices closer to their existing use value.

”In high-demand areas, this could save the taxpayer millions of pounds per hectare."

When considering the basic essentials needed by all carers ( Excluding the " Parent " essential ... money ) , housing is the one which is causing the most problems.

Even if Government policy were changed , and an unprecedented building program was undertaken , it would still take a generation or so before the problem eased ... assuming allied policies on rents , both for social and private tenants.

Other factors come into play ... poltical and controversial ones ... suffice to say many know what they are even if debate on them is not welcomed anywhere.

No answer ... will continue to be a MAJOR issue for our children ... and their children.
Allied subject ... Housing Benefit ... today's Guardian :

https://www.theguardian.com/housing-net ... -foodbanks

A mother given 50p a week for housing: the benefit cap one year on.

A year after the lower benefit cap was introduced, families go without food and fuel and are forced to use foodbanks.

A year on from the introduction of the lower benefit cap, its abiding legacy is to push people closer to homelessness.

The cap, introduced on 7 November 2016, reduced the total amount any family can receive in benefits from £26,000 to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside the capital, leaving families with significant shortfalls between the benefits they get and the cost of their housing.

In our most recent research we spoke to 18 families with capped benefit across the UK and each time we heard a familiar story – one of stress, struggle and a daily fight to remain in their home.

Half of those families said they had gone without food, fuel or were otherwise in debt as a result of the cut. Among a raft of other hardships a third said they had been forced to use food banks.

That’s hardly surprising when the government’s most recent figures show that nearly a third of the 68,000 families that were capped have lost by between £50 and £100 a week in benefits.

One mother’s testimony poignantly sums up the impact of the policy; she told us that every day she thinks about the prospect of losing everything and being forced out of her family’s home. A single mother, she had given up work to look after her young baby and the cap slashed her housing benefit to just 50p a week.

Meanwhile many housing associations and councils have told us that they have to provide intensive support to tenants affected by the cap just to make sure they can keep their home.

When the original cap was first proposed it was argued that it was unfair that households who were not working were being supported to live in expensive areas, which many working families would not be able to afford.

But the government’s latest figures show that the majority of people hit by the cap have children, and many are in receipt of benefits that recognise they are not able to work. In fact half of the families affected are on income support and 15% are on employment and support allowance.

If the hardship the cap is causing is not a good enough reason to scrap it, then the fact that the policy is undermining the government’s own attempts to solve the housing crisis surely is.

For the first time in a long time it feels like we are winning the argument that we need many more homes that people can afford. Theresa May making a commitment to invest £2 billion and talking about the need to invest in homes offered at the cheapest rents represented real progress.

But this renewed impetus to build new homes will be wasted if people that need them most cannot afford them.

The lower benefit cap is one of a number of policies that demonstrate the government is yet to reconcile its housing aims with its approach to welfare. Meanwhile evidence revealing the scale of poverty seems to grow by the day – most recently the Child Poverty Action Group warned that years of government cuts have left many families at risk of poverty.

Welfare and housing are inextricably linked and the sooner the government realises this and takes action, the sooner it can get on with the business of solving our housing crisis.

HB ... always THE one benefit that causes the most controversy !

The lack of affordable housing is the REAL issue.

Sure , people should only live in housing / areas they can afford to live in.

A carer and the caree ... same to apply ?

Even if the caring was sudden ... an accident or medical condition , perhaps ?
I don't understand why in some areas landlords won't have anyone on benefits.
My son has severe learning difficulties, when the care agency suggested he move out of shared accommodation (with a difficult fellow resident) I was dead against it. However, they found a lovely flat for him. It was agreed that staff would ensure that it was kept clean and tidy (in fact my son does virtually all the cleaning, but likes staff to deal with the limescale on the shower screen!). We all agreed that it was a "suck it and see" situation. The landlord is paid the rent, in full, by Housing Benefit every month direct from the council. When the flat above my son became vacant, they pleaded with the care agency to find someone else with LD, as they knew how well M was cared for! Now, the manager of the letting agency has a property which he himself lets to some other people with LD.
This is in one of the most affluent areas in the country!
Good question BB ... relevant to me as I often liaise with the local letting agent , not on a landlord / tenant basis.

One skill still useful from my banking days ... expertise in the property industry ... still comes into play for today's " Novices. "

The basics haven't changed even if today's numbers are frightening in comparison.

In essence , landlords are looking for a quiet life ... security of that monthly rent coming in a main priority.

As HB is now paid directly to the tenant in most cases , the old security of receiving the rent direct has gone.

Rent arrears have shot up since that change , more tenants are struggling as wages / benefits remain flat.

In the Landlord's eyes , a working tenant is a better bet than a tenant relying on the State.

Having said that , in this area , many working tenants receiving benefits / allowances as their income is still low enough.

My conversation with them back in September on the future UC rollout here really did set off alarm bells !!!

Last one I had a couple of weeks ago ... now as many problems with working tenants as with benefit claiming tenants.

Here in Worksop , a low wage area , a no win situation.

For example ... 3 bed semi / new almost everything ... garden / garage ... relative quiet location ... £ 550 per month ... still available after 4 months and 7 prospective viewings ... even the letting agents are perplexed !

Car ? Optional but ... hourly bus service , limited hours during day , none on Sundays / public holidays ... £ 2.80 return into town centre. If students , another bus needed for local college. Same again for local hospital. Essential if taking on night work ... the main source around here ... in factories.

Changes on taxation on income coming in as also affected the BTL market.

Several BTL landlords are looking to sell but ... there are few takers.

Repairs / improvements ? Often overlooked as rent income coming into the Landlord's pockets is diminishing , chasing this month's rent become the norm.

For those BTL landlords with a high gearing , frightening !

Interest rates moving upwards ... and more rises to follow in the next 12 months seem inevitable ... squeeing those already existing tight margins.

In summary , the housing market for letting is suffering at both ends.

As there are no rent controls , some landlords can sit back and wait for a tenant to take on a let at that rent level.

Does not work that way here in Worksop , it's more of a race to the bottom.
"Vulnerable adults" can still ask for HB to be paid directly to the letting agent. Not a problem here. Sometimes, councils have to be "reminded" of the rules!
Not 10 minutes after relying to BB's posting , quick visit across the road for urgent supplies.

Council officier outside ... looking perplexed ... 9 final reminders for council tax arrears to deliver
... where are the post boxes ?

9 ... 12 flats ... not one for me ... I'm probably one of the tenants with the lowest income !

At least it wasn't someone from the electricity companies ... difficult to cut off prepayment meters enjoyed by most ?

Yep , housing benefit problems ... council tax problems ... it's epidemic !

UC arrives on the manor ... in 840 hours time.

Oh what fun ... !!!
A first !

A video link to a tv program ... Channel 4 ... Dispatches ... Grenfell Tower and social housing all in one ... second part covers several issues raised in postings on this thread ... in particular , " No DSS " when trying to rent property in the private sector.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/disp ... /66548-003

Need to register to view ... if you have not already done so.

First 14 minutes to the commercial break ... Grenfell Tower.

Thereafter , the real meat for any readers !

Even a carer with immediate housing problems !

So many questions ... dubious policies ... it's all there !

HOMES FIT FOR HEROES ... 1919 General Election slogan.


A little more on HB following recent exchange with BB :

From the Shelter site :
When LHA can be paid direct to a landlord

LHA is usually paid directly to you. You then pay your rent to your landlord.

Your council must make your LHA payments direct to your landlord if:

you have rent arrears of eight weeks or more
deductions are being made from other benefits for rent arrears

In some cases, the council can choose to pay your LHA direct to your landlord. They could do this if, for example, you:

have a history of not paying the rent
struggle to pay the rent because of a medical condition or learning disability
could lose your tenancy if they don't

could lose your tenancy if they don't

Interesting ... with the UC rollout , for many tenants ... an option now considered dubious given the circumstances many will now find themselves in ?

As BTL landlords are business people ... NOT social landlords , why take on a known risk ?

If reversed , and paid directly to the landlord ... with few exceptions ... does not really change the situation beyond ring fencing benefit income ... one that can be debated all day long and ... still not have a consensus view ?

Yes , some tenants are their own worst enemies ... still difficult to call ?

For the full sp , Shelter :


Needless to add , THE BIBLE when it comes to any housing issues.
274 posts