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Why renting to Housing benefit claimants makes sense
Tuesday 06th November 2012 - 12:13pm
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(Published on by Guardian.co.uk on 25th October 2012) 

Talk to any landlord or letting agent and they are likely to have strong opinions about renting properties to people claiming housing benefit. Whichever side of the fence you sit, accepting tenants who rely on help from the government to pay their rent remains a contentious issue.

 

Stereotyping still exists and is, quite frankly, appalling. We should be horrified by the lack of respect, understanding and common decency that people claiming benefits face daily.

 

Yes, it is true there are some who play the system but the majority are doing their level best to deal with the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in. Over many years I've dealt with thousands of tenants claiming housing benefit who have really struggled to find a home. And make no mistake – it is a home they're looking for.

 

Research shows that people on housing benefit regard the place they live as a permanent rather than a short-term let; one of our tenants has just celebrated 34 years living in the same property.

 

We now face the biggest upheaval to the welfare system in recent times, but this shouldn't be viewed as a problem. After all, private landlords will still be providing the same services they do now, albeit using a different system.

 

There will be a period of adjustment needed, but this is also a time of opportunity for the private rented sector.

 

Over 30 years, rents have risen rapidly. Regardless of what the housing market is doing, renting to tenants on housing benefit has not caused any sharp spikes. However the demand for properties increased because of the lack of social housing in this sector generally.

 

With the economy still struggling to pull itself out of recession, landlords and letting agents should put their prejudices aside and ask themselves the question:

 

Can I continue to ignore such a substantial part of the private rented sector?

 

(written by Aki Ellahi is founder of Dssmove and Director of Rent Me Now)