Almost nine out of ten (87%) landlords who accept housing benefit tenants have had problems with rent not being paid on time, with one in ten (11%) saying they have had tenants who stopped paying their rent altogether.
Out of all landlords, more than half (59%) stipulate no housing benefit tenants in their advertisements. The astonishing results emerge from a survey of over 1,000 UK landlords, conducted by flat and house share website Spareroom.
The majority of buy-to-let landlords (86%) surveyed were against the change to the benefit system which now automatically pays Local Housing Allowance direct to the tenant.
The change came into force in 2008, and 51% of landlords who take housing benefit tenants said they had mainly experienced rent issues since then. As part of the survey, landlords were asked why they would not rent out their property to housing benefit tenants.
Almost one-third (30%) said non-benefit tenants were more reliable, while 47% said they did not want the hassle of dealing with payment problems. According to the poll, problems caused by benefit tenants included late payments, not paying at all, issues arising from the suspension of benefit payments and damage to the property.
More than half (58%) of respondents said they had experienced more than one of these problems. Three-quarters (74%) of those landlords questioned said they would not take a tenant on housing benefit even if the tenant had a guarantor.
One-third (34%) of landlords surveyed currently have housing benefit tenants in one or more of their properties, and a further 45% said they had previously taken in this type of tenant. Matt Hutchinson, director of Spareroom, said: “It’s clear from this survey that a shake-up of the current system of paying housing benefit to the tenant is desperately needed, and reverting back to the old structure, where landlords could receive rental payments directly from the council would be a step in the right direction.”