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NEW BENEFITS SYSTEM

  • polar
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31 Dec 12 #372004 by polar
Topic started by polar
As a landlord I am being besieged with telephone calls from various people , mainly women with children, who are desperate for accommodation.
New benefit rules are coming in and the amounts being paid will definitely not give them the support they expected. Some are being forced to downsize i.e. from a 3 bed to 2 bed or even 1 bed because benefits are going to be paid on needs rather than what they would like.
Landlords are loathe to take benefit claimants these day for a large number of reasons which I will not go into and the supply of housing to benefit claimants is now virtually non existent in my area.
Most people phoning me have no idea that the system is changing and are unaware that the support offered will often not meet their needs.
I would advise those in a position where they do or would have to claim benefits to find out where they stand financially as soon as is possible.
This may have an effect on any court orders , child support etc. in the very near future.
(PS before someone has a pop at me all but one of my tenants is on benefit and I am aware that some will have problems in the near future.)

  • Emma8485
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31 Dec 12 #372016 by Emma8485
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Polar you are correct in your belief that a number of people will be affected. I work in Strategic Management and Projects for a Social Landlord - one of the largest in the country and a significant proportion (over 60%) of our tenants are due to be affected.

For anyone who does need more details there are a number of decent websites now showing the changes and anyone that the changes apply to will also be contacted in plenty of time. In short though the main changes are:

Universal Credit - this replaces the former system of paying Housing Benefit, Council tax benefit, income support etc. This will now be paid in one lump sum, and the person recieving the credit payment must then make arrangements to pay rent, council tax etc.
During the "pilot" thats currently running there is no option for the tenant to have their rent element paid directly to the landlord which is where most landlords are showing concern.

The "Bedroom Tax" - This will affect anyone who is "overhoused" so for example a single parent or couple plus one child who currently rent a three bedroom property will only recieve sufficient "credit" to pay the Local Housing Allowance rate for a two bedroom property because thats all theyre legally entitled to, and they will have to make up the difference.

Because local Authorities traditionally pay Housing Benefit in arrears many private landlords will already not accept HB claimaints for this very reason, and Universal Credit will also be paid in arrears although this isnt set in stone yet I dont believe.

Inside Housing has a good article currently on their site which shows that the Housing Associations currently piloting this scheme are estimating that it will cause them a significant amount of increasing rent arrears as people prioritise other debts or are unable to fund the difference between what benefit they recieve and the rent they must pay.

There was also a suggestion that HB would be removed from under 25 yr olds, however I believe that this has been re considered in light of a vast number of under 25 yr olds being families or siongle parents.

The predicted increase in the lack of private housing for non working people is also now "squeezing" the availability of social housing - which there has never been enough of anyway!

CAB, Housing Aid and DWP are all able to advise on the changes, and if I can find some articles via work, then Ill link them on here for anyone who is interested.

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31 Dec 12 #372037 by polar
Reply from polar
Thank you for adding more Emma. Unless those who do or are likely to claim benefits find out their position they may find themselves in a terrible mess. If they were calculating on the benefit system to help them they are likely to miscalculate when it comes to the Consent Order etc.
I know of one case where the lady had a 3 bed house and lived there with her son. She has been faced with the option of finding £12 a week to keep living there or moving to a 2 bed.
As her son is coming up to school leaving age she faces the next problem. When her son stops full time education he will be classed as a ''''lodger'''' and her benefit will be cut further. The option then will be to charge her son rent or face the fact that she will have to ''''evict '''' her son and move to a one bed property.
Previous rules also meant that ages of children of different sex who share a room are increased and a couple (or single parent)with 2 children of different sex may find that they are only entitled to a 2 bed house.
Our council is also imposing much tougher allocation rules. For example any tenant in arrears or who has damaged a previous property will not be allowed to go on the council waiting list. They also operate a bid system. For example (local rate) a 2 bed house attracts HB of £525. Benefit claimants are not allowed to bid for a house with a rent over £550. This is restricting them to the rougher areas as local private rents are over this figure.
As you correctly say things are not set in stone yet
Further pressures will also come with councils changing council tax rules with benefit claimants being charged 10% instead of zero as at present. Landlords are not exempt from changes with council tax on empty properties attracting full council tax instead of a free period so I see landlords renting houses quickly instead of redecorating etc.
Again as you say Emma there is plenty of information out there on the net and its up to benefit claimants to become aware of the changes. Unfortunately most are sticking their heads in the sand or are just plain ignorant of the changes.

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15 Aug 14 #442220 by polar
Reply from polar
One and a half years after I first posted this we are still finding tenants who are unaware of the rules on benefits and housing benefit / LHA. Its just not as easy to get housing and readers should be aware.
The council here is not even considering rehousing if there are any arrears or any damages to the house which may bring a sense of importance to keeping the last house decent and keeping the rent up to date instead of the latest x box game or big flat screen with sky tv.

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