Bedroom Tax Turmoil…
Some 38 % of families in social housing who have had their rent contributions affected by the “bedroom tax” are in arrears, the National Housing Federation reports. Less than a year after the imposition of the tax, the arrears are building inexorably.
A poll of Housing Associations found 72,000 tenants in arrears, ignoring the number of Council tenants who may also be in arrears and those in receipt of benefits who rent in the private sector.
Further, it has been reported that some 16,000 homes have been unlawfully charged with the tax at an average of £14 per week per household.
Some 1 in 7 of those in arrears have now been served with eviction notices, which is a trend symptomatic of landlords in an increasingly strong market simply asking the question “who wants to let a property to people who have shown that they cannot keep up, for whatever reason, their rental payments?”.
Not for nothing has Britain’s most prolific buy to let Landlord, Fergus Wilson, declared that he will no longer accept tenants who require housing benefits. Historically, it was possible to be in receipt of the Housing benefit as a private landlord directly from the Council, enabling a slightly lower return, but with no risk of rental arrears. Now, with benefits transferring straight to the tenant, few private landlords are likely to rely on tenants who require benefits and have a poor payment track record.
The issue, then, will increasingly concern social housing and more pressure is likely to be put on social providers to provide for those evicted by private landlords.
National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said:
“You can argue over what to call the policy, but there is no disputing the impact that the bedroom tax is having across the country. It is heaping misery and hardship on already struggling families, pushing them into arrears. Now many are at risk of being evicted because they simply can’t find the extra money to pay their rent.
“These people have done nothing wrong. The Government has suddenly changed the rules and given them a false choice: move to a smaller home or pay. Yet we know there aren’t enough smaller homes in England for these families to move into.
“Housing associations are doing all they can to avoid evicting residents, but as not-for-profit organisations they can’t simply write-off unpaid rent. From day one we have said the bedroom tax is unfair, unworkable and just bad policy. It’s putting severe pressure on thousands of the nation’s poorest people and must be repealed.”
Britain’s problem in the bedroom department remains to be satisfactorily resolved!
LCB / SRJ 12.02.14