The boss of a lettings company that specialises in pensioners has urged private landlords not to turn their backs on benefit tenants.
Peter Girling, chairman of Girlings Retirement Rentals, said it was wrong to stigmatise social housing tenants.
According to research from the National Housing Federation, there has been a 417,830 rise in the number of social housing tenants over the past three years.
It has coincided with a decline in the number of landlords willing to let properties to tenants receiving housing benefit following the Government’s cuts to Local Housing Allowances, paid to tenants in private rental accommodation.
Both the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association have reported that many landlords have either already withdrawn from the LHA market or plan to do so.
Letting agent and landlord Aki Ellahi, founder of Dssmove and director of lettings business Rent Me Now, wrote an open letter to landlords in the Guardian Professional on October 25 (see link below).
In it, he wrote of the ‘appalling’ stigma and stereotyping prevalent amongst UK landlords with regards to accepting social housing tenants.
Girling said: “I wholeheartedly agree. Over 70% of our tenants who are aged over 55 receive some form of entitlements including housing benefit. Many of these people have paid into the system over their working lives and now need some support in their retirement, as do a number of home owners who may be entitled to social and housing support.
“Whilst I understand their commercial concerns, my view is that landlords are being short-sighted in their knee-jerk reactions.
“There are benefits to the landlord from letting property to social housing tenants. Whilst undoubtedly there are some unscrupulous people who abuse the system, it is wrong to stereotype all social tenants in this category. It is the minority giving the majority of tenants a bad name.
“I would like to urge landlords to think twice before turning their backs on social housing tenants in response to government policies. If a new government came in – the policies would change again. There is an argument for landlords to take a far longer-term view of the market which could bring great commercial success in the future.
“There are also the tenants to consider. The average age of our new tenants is 79. They are affected by government cuts, yet most of them don’t have the means to go out and earn additional income to supplement their rents. Without government assistance and landlords willing to take them on, what would become of them?”