Rising rents hit vulnerable tenants

9 March 2017

Tenants on benefits are being pushed out of the private housing market due to rising rents, according to a new survey.

The latest residential market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which polled property professionals during February 2017, has found that around one third of respondents say that people on housing benefits are being pushed out of the private rental market.

Problems that have traditionally faced people on benefits trying to rent privately are being exacerbated by recent caps on housing benefits, which 29% of those polled said was a key reason why this vulnerable group could no longer afford private rentals.

Added to this, property professionals who took part in the survey suggested that rents would rise by more than 20% over the next five years.

RICS suggests one way to solve this problem would be for the government to step in and introduce a state-endorsed deposit guarantor scheme. Around half (52%) of those polled said that they would consider letting properties to households in receipt of housing benefit and/or homeless households if this type of government guarantee was in place.

The survey also revealed that there continues to be a nationwide shortage of properties, with tenant demand exceeding the number of new instructions on the market for the 38th month in a row.

As part of its ‘A Home For Cathy’ campaign – aimed at tackling UK homelessness, RICS is working with national homeless charity Crisis to call on the government to do more to support vulnerable tenants by introducing rent measures.

Sean Tompkins, chief executive of RICS, explains: “We see this as a matter of public interest. The housing market is falling increasingly out of step with the majority of household incomes. In the current climate, it can be hard enough for young professionals to make ends meet. But for those on benefits, the pressures may be insurmountable.

“Worryingly, our figures show that as a result of a combination of economic pressures, more and more vulnerable tenants are being pushed out of the private rented sector. However, if government were to put in place additional support measures through the introduction of help-to-rent schemes, the door to the rental market may once again be opened for Britain’s most vulnerable,” he adds.


Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, adds: “This survey highlights the uphill battle many homeless people face when trying to enter the private rented sector. Renting is often the only way out of homelessness, but the vast majority of landlords now consider it too risky to rent to homeless people. This is a desperate situation to be in: to be ready to move on and start rebuilding your life only to encounter financial barriers and closed doors.

“With growing numbers of people stuck in this homelessness trap, we need to find ways to reassure landlords while supporting homeless people to find a place to live. That’s why Crisis’s Home: No Less Will Do campaign is calling on the government to underwrite a national rent deposit guarantee to ensure more support is made available to those trying to find a home to rent. It already helps first-time buyers struggling for a deposit – we’d like to see them extend this help to those who need it most.”

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