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Cuts prompt landlords to shun benefit claimants

Private landlords are becoming less willing to let properties to people on benefits as a result of welfare reforms, England’s first Green Party council leader has said.

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Bill Randall, leader of Brighton Council, today said: ‘The housing situation in the city is getting worse, because of changes, not least to benefit.

‘We are concerned about the fact that the private rented sector is increasingly becoming less willing to take people on housing benefit.’

Mr Randall, speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing south east conference in Brighton, cited figures collected by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas showing that out of 35 letting agents contacted, 26 said they would refuse to find homes for people on benefit or did not have any landlords who would accept benefit claimants.

Six would only accept benefit recipients with a guarantor while the other three would accept benefit claimants but would not offer a rent that could be covered by the shared room rate. The maximum age for the shared room rate was increased from 25 years to 35 years in January, meaning local housing allowance claimants can now only claim the cost of renting a one-bedroom flat.

Mr Randall said: ‘Judging by the responses from the letting agents, we conclude it is going to be very difficult for under 35s on housing support to rent private property in the city in the future.

‘This is a serious problem for the poorest and most vulnerable people we have in the city.’

Mr Randall said the council is in the process of setting up an ‘ethical’ lettings agency with housing association Brighton Housing Trust to tackle the problem of landlords charging high fees and offering poor levels of service.

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