Nationwide were among a small group of mortgage lenders asked to give evidence at a select committee yesterday on restrictions around letting to tenants in receipt of benefits.
After Natwest came under fire in October last year over the case of a landlord refused a remortgage because the property was rented to a tenant in receipt of housing benefit, the committee began an investigation into No DSS: discrimination against benefit claimants in the housing sector.
The landlord was told that to comply with bank rules, she would have to evict her longstanding, vulnerable tenant, which she refused to do.
The committee then widened its inquiries to take in other potential forms of direct or indirect housing discrimination against benefit recipients, which led to Natwest and other lenders announcing policy changes in response, in order to end “no DSS” discrimination.
Paul Wootton, Nationwide’s director of home propositions, who gave evidence to the committee yesterday, said: “Nationwide and The Mortgage Works do not place restrictions on landlords letting to tenants on benefits – and welcome the fact that many other lenders have also now reviewed their own practices. However, as only around one third of privately rented properties are mortgaged, such changes can only have limited effect.
“Simplifying the benefits system and the way payments are made seems pivotal to encouraging landlords, already under growing financial pressures themselves, to consider renting to tenants on benefits – as well as a specialist housing court to provide fast and effective experiences for all.”
Other witnesses to give evidence included representatives from Shelter, National Westminster Bank plc, The Co-operative Bank, Hunters Property Group, OpenRent, Your Move, and Shepherds Bush Housing Association.