Although the majority of landlords will not accept tenants on Housing Benefit there are many landlords who will. This situation has the potential to change when the new rules affecting housing benefit take effect from April 2008.
There is concern within housing charities such as Citizens Advice and Shelter that the new scheme could result in fewer landlords being prepared to accept tenants on housing benefit. Under the current rules the Local Housing Authority can pay the housing benefit directly to the landlord thereby by-passing the claimant. Although cumbersome this method does at least ensure that the majority of the landlord’s income is safe.
Under the new rules the Local Housing Allowance will be paid directly to the claimant. Landlords are fearful that the tenant may use this money for other things and fall into arrears with their rent.
Obviously the rules surrounding housing benefit are complex, so landlords who currently accept DHS tenants should contact their local housing authority or managing agents to see how the new rules are going to be implemented.
Is It All Bad?
Well actually no, it depends on how you interpret the rules.
The current system is quite rigid and pays a fixed amount depending on the amount of the rent, whereas the new system will pay an amount dependant on the size of the property.
Advocates of the new system claim that this new method of calculating housing benefit will encourage claimants to “top-up” their benefit to rent better properties.
As the amount payable will be set locally by the housing officer it will be interesting to see the regional variations.