Landlords have little incentive to accept benefits

A BBC investigation has found that landlords are more willing to rent their property to tenants who own pets than those claiming benefits.

In an analysis of approximately 11,000 listings on the website SpareRoom, only 2% of adverts for rooms to let were available to people on benefits.

The research carried out by the BBC England data unit found that across the 19 areas they studied, there were twice as many lets agreed that accepted pets than those which had accepted housing benefit.

It has been called “naked discrimination” by campaign group Digs, who support tenants renting in Hackney.

Heather Kennedy, spokeswoman for Digs said: “People claim housing benefit for different reasons, including because they’re disabled, caring for others or escaping a violent relationship. And as rents have sky-rocketed and wages stagnate, more and more working people are having to claim benefits to cover their rent.

“We all know how difficult and stressful it can be to find somewhere to live. But, for the many renters who rely on local housing allowance to top up their income in order to meet the rent, finding somewhere to live is almost impossible”, according to Roger Harding, director at Shelter.

Chief executive of the National Association of Landlords, Richard Lambert, said: “Most landlords support the construction of social housing as a better investment of government funds”

“Not only would this mean more housing available and affordable for those most in need, it would also relieve the pressure on the private sector that creates the breeding ground for the minority of rogues and criminals who get away with providing substandard housing.”

Matt Hutchinson, director of Spareroom, added: “We spend £27bn a year on Housing Benefit. If we spent that on building homes, rather than helping people afford ever escalating costs, we could solve the housing crisis.”

How regulations in Ireland differ:

Changes were made to the equality law for the rental market in Ireland in January 2016 which specified that anyone in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance or other social welfare payments could not be discriminated against.

Tenants can report landlords who are found to be discriminating against people on benefits to the Workplace Relations Commission, where they can be fined up to €15,000 .

Advertisers in Ireland may also be held liable if they are found to publish anything discriminating.

Full article available on: BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39102860

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