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Why would landlords want rent in arrears when they can get paid up front?

Thousands of private landlords across the country understandably reject housing benefit claimants despite accusations that they are discriminating against those on lower incomes.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has joined forces with Shelter to launch a new campaign to end what it sees as the discriminatory practice of ‘no DSS’ in the private rented sector.

People receiving benefits are often locked out of the private rented sector and seen to be openly discriminated against by private landlords, which the NHF and Shelter believe is wrong.


But while there is a case to be made that those private landlords should not be allowed to reject people on DSS, the reality is that they are less attractive tenants compared to private tenants that are not receiving benefits.

Refusing DSS tenants may be perceived as discrimination, but that is simply not the case according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark).

The trade origination points out that there is a “systemic problem” with how housing benefit works.

David Cox, chief executive, ARLA Propertymark, said: “Rents [from private tenants] are paid in advance, whereas housing benefit is paid in arrears, and therefore with such a shortage of rental accommodation, landlords and agents will naturally choose a tenant who can pay the rent when it is due, rather than a tenant who is always a month in arrears.”

ARLA Propertymark has repeatedly called on the government to resolve this problem. But its calls “have fallen on deaf ears”, according to Cox.

He added: “To make the situation worse, many lenders also have a clause in their buy-to-let mortgage agreements which prevent landlords from letting to housing benefit tenants.

“This situation does not exist because of landlords or letting agents, it is a systemic problem caused by government and the banks.”

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

Poll: Do you think refusing DSS tenants is discrimination?


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    It's not discrimination against people its because the "business" behind their funding isn't trustworthy i.e. DSS. Firstly they give a large amount of money directly to the claimant and not the landlord and wash their hands of it if the claimant spends the money not on rent (The claimant is stealing in the eyes of the law). Secondly the DSS will instantly stop their funding including their housing benefit for all sorts of reasons leaving the claimant unable to pay the rent. I don't need to deal with business's like that.. So I don't.

  • icon

    spot on steve, i will only consider a housing benefit claimant if they can provide a cast iron guarantor and even then i'm not keen, we are not charities, maybe shelter would like to offer a rent guarantor deal ? mmmmm thought not.

  • James B

    No need for any blanket ban and open any debate with these clueless idiots, applicants can be declined on a one by one basis. We do accept DSS actually on lower end stuff but they must have a homeowner working guarantor on the tenancy, works well

  • icon

    This is in the news today, yet another landlord bashing day.
    It may have been ok if the local authority paid the benefit directly to the landlord.
    Who in his or her right mind decided to change the system and pay directly to the tenant,? This was obviously going to end in disaster as they could just keep the money and have a few months free accommodation before the long drawn out and expensive eviction process began?
    Pretty much everybody is on some kind of benefit where I am, (even working people) so there is not too much choice with regard to the 'ideal' tenant?

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    This universal credit system has made things even worse for people on benefits to secure housing and rightly so. Tax payers money should not be handed to a tenant to then pay the landlord, that is a absolute disgrace and abuse of that money. Further, there is no consequences when the tenant does not pay their rent, even if they move to another property. This handing rent money to a tenant to then pay the landlord leads to tax free money ion a tenants pocket, with ZERO consequences if they spend that money elsewhere. Whats worse is the UC system does not allow the landlord to speak about the claim with them. "everything must go through the tenant"... Rubbish system and it rightly punishes those who need to claim. No sympathy here and this debate is wider than paying in advance v's arrears

  • icon

    Many here have experience of the difficulties in renting to DSS tenants and like the majority I too have been hit financially by non payment of rent, however as pointed out the issue is wider.
    Shelter and NHF are advancing their arguments on the back of discrimination ... but really the basis of social responsibility ( public interest ) is the underlying driver for a court to find in a potential tenants favour. The fact of the matter is the Land Registration Act 2002 supports ownership as an absolute right and further more clearly states the " responsible use is not required " . This would support rights of Landlords to do as they please with their property, including being discerning about who they rent to. Considering that the risks of being a landlord are increasing as legislation becomes less and less favourable, and the earnings increasingly taxed, perhaps the government will do well to remember that they have a degree of reliance on private landlords due to the fact that they themselves sold off high proportions of the housing stock held by the state. To now seek to control housing stock by implementing controls which effectively interfere with a persons right to conduct their own financial business in the way in which they see fit is arguably a greater interference with rights than the current discrimination argument being advanced. There are many low income individuals housed by private landlords but to my mind it is unlawful for the state to seek to control freedoms of the private landlord to choose who they do business with unless they themselves are willing to be party to a contract which negates the potential business risk.

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    So maybe the way forward is to rent directly to the government, make them directly responsible for their sub tenant.. A slightly different problem was sorted out by going directly to the top. A Housing association in Kent housed two families that were constantly at war with each other.. Parish Council were unable to sort the anti-social behavour out until the Solicitor on the council recommended to threaten to sue the housing association.. One family was imediately removed, problem solved.
    So if a family was on housing benefit the contract would be with the housing benefit department not the individual. They would be responsible for payment and the condition of the property.. Only disadvantage you wouldn't have a say on who lived there.

  • icon

    I'm converting my rental to mini hotel / guest house.. Payment up front, electronic locks and it comes under a different law, whereby no payment is concidered a stealing. You don't get squatters or damage to hotels, however firedoors, fire alarm, signs etc.. Bit like the HMO's are going for legislation. I can charge a higher rate and expect to have my properties empty at times but the higher rate will compensate for this. Will know in a year if it will works.

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    someone local has done this--seems to work--but avoid asylum etc

  • Andrew Hill

    We have regularly contacted the government and tenant charities with regards to how we can improve the system overall working together.

    Nobody wants to know. Landlord and agent bashing is the new black of the private rented sector. Sometimes, even we feel like throwing the towel in and saying "No more benefit tenants full stop", why should we? After all, even if we do work with the tenant's best interests in mind, there's never any recognition for agents like us.

    Of course, tenant charities have a vested interest in the sector remaining unfair to benefit tenants as this allows them to gather more donations to line the pockets of their CEO earning over 100k per year.

  • icon

    so I am 60 and my car insurance is low , my son 21 his car insurance is high.
    set your rents to the risk or how good or bad the tenant is .

    the uni credit will never work, has no chance .
    Make sure you have a guarentor in place and signed before the tenancy is signed.

    the RLA has the wording as I am sure there are others around.

    just writing up to take a poor working woman to court for £5k ,
    Do I feel sorry for her hell no its just part of this game of real monopoly.

  • icon

    The only answer is to not take benefit or dss or universal credit persons, simple.


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