Landlords call for benefits hike so tenants can pay their rent

London tenants on Universal Credit are finding themselves unable to meet their rent

London tenants on Universal Credit are finding themselves unable to meet their rent - Credit: André Langlois

Landlords have called on the government to raise benefits and link them to local rent prices to ensure tenants can afford to pay.

In London, 40.4% of private tenants relying on Universal Credit to pay for housing face a shortfall each month, according to analysis of official data by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

The NRLA found that those tenants face an average of £162 shortfall each month.

While the government increased the Local Housing Allowance (LHR) portion of benefits in April 2020 to help the bottom 30% of private renters during the pandemic, the rate has been frozen since last April.

In Camden 38.2% of universal Credit recipients with an LHA have a monthly average gap of £143 in the benefits they receive and rent they have pay, with comparable figures in Barnet (42.7%, £160), Haringey (39.2%, £159), Islington (34%, £128), Hackney (36.7%, £110), Brent (35.2%, £150) and Westminster (48.3%, £166).

The NRLA says families with two children are more likely to be affected and that the link between local rent levels and the amount of housing benefit support provided by the government has been broken. 

The link between rent and benefits is "broken"

The link between rent and benefits is "broken" - Credit: André Langlois

NRLA spokesperson Richard Blanco said: “It cannot be right that housing benefit support fails to reflect the reality of current rent levels. 

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“The freeze merely exacerbates the already serious cost of living crisis for tenants across the region.

“The chancellor needs to listen and respond to the concerns of both renters and landlords by unfreezing housing benefits as a matter of urgency.”

With the current LHA rate, the number of properties private renters receiving Universal Credit can afford is likely to steadily decline, despite rents in London increasing by less than inflation, the NRLA said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “During the pandemic we increased Local Housing Allowance significantly and beyond inflation, benefitting over one million households by an average of over £600 over the year. 

“We’re maintaining that boost, keeping support for private renters above pre-pandemic levels.”

The NRLA is the UK's largest representative organisation for private residential landlords, with more than 95,000 members.