Update for Landlords - Letting Adverts and Housing Benefits
According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) around half of landlords say they would not be willing to let to tenants on housing benefits.

The Residential Landlords Association, which represents landlords across the country, found that the average amount owed by tenants in receipt of universal credit increased from £1,600 in 2017 to just under £2,400 in 2018.

With 4.5 million households in rented accommodation, and 889,000 of these in receipt of housing benefit, it is possible that thousands of vulnerable people could struggle to access the rental market.

In March 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit and made it clear that these should end.

Rightmove, the UK’s largest property portal, requested clarity as this direction contravened guidance on consumer protection law for letting agents. This states that any restrictions on the type of tenant such as a housing benefit claimant should be included in an advertisement.

This clarity arrived on 8 October 2019.

The Competition & Markets Authority has explained the updated position regarding letting adverts:
 
  • You should mention a housing benefit restriction if, and only if, there is a term in a contract, such as a mortgage contract, that restricts you from renting to someone on benefits.
  • If you mention that there is a restriction in a term of a contract and there isn’t one, this would be misleading.
  • The CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts.
Over the past year the vast majority of mortgage lenders have removed the ‘no tenants on housing benefit’ restriction from their terms. It is anticipated that in almost all cases there will be no restrictions placed on landlords.

Jason Dyer of JTM Homes comments: “We welcome this clarity and the requirement for fully inclusive rental property marketing.”

Are you a landlord approached by potential tenants on housing benefit? To discuss what this update means for you, please contact the friendly lettings experts at JTM Homes, independent, north London estate agency.