Landlords struggling to rehouse tenants hit by bedroom tax
Most landlords will be able to rehouse less than a fifth of tenants affected by the bedroom tax in the year following its introduction. Two third of landlords who took part in a Chartered Institute of Housing/Circle Housing Group survey said they would be unable to help any more than 20 per cent of their tenants downsize as a result of the under-occupation penalty, commonly known as the bedroom tax.
And 96 per cent said that despite offering cash incentives and practical help, a lack of available homes remained the biggest barrier for social housing tenants being able to move.
Measures being used by landlords include promoting lodging schemes and relaxing their stance on allowing tenants with rent arrears to transfer or mutually exchange.
The survey also found that 84 per cent of landlords see the direct payment of housing benefit under universal credit as the biggest threat to their rental income.
CIH chief executive Grainia Long said: “This survey shows that housing professionals are working hard to try to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax on their tenants.
“But there is only so much they can do – as these figures show there are simply not enough smaller homes for all those affected to move into.”
She added: “It’s clear that social housing is experiencing some of its toughest times to date, and this survey has provided a valuable insight into the challenges organisations are facing. CIH will be working hard to help all housing professionals meet those challenges head on.”
CIH has a range of resources to help landlords deal with welfare reform, including a welfare reform impact calculator, its Making Best Use of Stock team, good practice guides and regular training courses and events.
Circle said tenants are turning to mutual exchange services as a result of the under-occupation penalty, which is opening up a new supply of homes not available to landlords through choice-based letting. The organisation said visits to its House Exchange website (www.houseexchange.org.uk), which matches up social housing tenants who want to switch homes, now reach more than a quarter of a million (253,220) per month - an increase of a third since the introduction of the under occupation penalty.
Mike Ward from Circle Housing Group said: “We are committed to actively supporting our tenants so that these major changes can be successfully introduced and we will continue to work with the government to find the best solutions for our tenants and our business. But this research highlights that the drastic shortage of suitable homes facing our communities is a difficult barrier to overcome.“Although they can never be the total solution, mutual exchange services such as House Exchange and the National Mobility Scheme remain crucial for freeing up movement and helping social housing tenants who need to move into a smaller or larger home, to be closer to work or to care for friends or family.”
Read the survey report in full
CIH event Welfare reform: managing the changes to housing benefit takes place on 23 July in London and 30 July in Manchester