Fear of Rental Arrears Turn Landlords Away from Under-35s

Concerns about rental arrears have made a third of landlords reluctant to rent to tenants under 35.

New research commissioned by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University involving nearly 2,000 private landlords found that 79 per cent saw younger tenants as high risk of rental arrears. A sizeable two thirds then claimed that they would not be willing to let to under-35s on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. 44 per cent were unwilling to let to students.

Of the landlords questioned whose lettings practice had been affected by the extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate to all under-35s in 2012, a staggering 68 per cent had reduced or stopped letting to under-35s on benefits.

Four-fifths of landlords who were still willing to let to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit claimants added additional safeguards. These could range from the use of a guarantor or a request for direct payment to the landlord.

Landlords called for a reversal of recent tax releases when asked what would encourage them to increase lettings to under-35s. There was also discussion of providing relief for longer tenancies and better administration.

Chair of the RLA, Alan Ward, said: ‘This research suggests that landlords are moving away from accommodating under-35s, especially those who are on benefit, out of concern that they will not get paid. The report notes that landlords are not necessarily looking for higher rents or increased yields from their properties. Instead, the emphasis is on reducing risk, particularly in relation to rent arrears and the administration of welfare payments. We have already held constructive talks with the government about this and we will keep the situation under review, but there is a need for policymakers to engage further with landlords to consider what more action can be taken to address this decline. Without this many under-35s are likely to struggle to access any accommodation.’

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