Housing providers lack resources to track tenants’ wages
Landlords warn they can’t monitor 4m households
Landlords fear they will be forced to track the income of millions of tenants as part of controversial ‘pay to stay’ proposals for higher-earning households.
The Communities and Local Government department will consult on proposals that would see social housing tenants charged market rents once their income passes a certain threshold. This threshold could be £60,000 and apply to 34,000 households, according to reports over the weekend which have not been confirmed or denied by CLG.
Landlords are concerned that, because they set rents and sign tenancy agreements, it will fall to them to monitor tenants’ incomes, creating a large administrative burden.
Steve Howlett, chief executive of 20,000-home association Peabody, said: ‘I don’t think we have the ability to do that [monitor income]. It is a real worry, I don’t see how we could make it work.’
Paul Tennant, chief executive of 37,000-home Orbit Group, said: ‘It is going to fall back on us. Even if the government is able to identify people they will say to us “you need to do something about it”.’
Brendan Sarsfield, chief executive of Family Mosaic, called for the tax system, rather than landlords, to track income.
Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said keeping track of more than 4 million social housing households would be a ‘big challenge’ for landlords.
Currently, social landlords are only aware of tenants’ incomes when they are first allocated properties, but do not monitor income changes.
Michael Hall, chair of the Leeds Tenants’ Federation, said monitoring incomes would be an invasion of tenants’ privacy. He said: ‘If they are going to start changing people’s tenancy and legal rights there will be uproar.’
Matthew Bailes, director of regulation at the Homes and Communities Agency, said a move to alter rents is likely to require a new direction on rent-setting from the CLG.