Jess McCabe

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‘LHA cap’: landlords toughen criteria for under 35s (Inside Housing)

16 June 2016 7:30 am | By Jess McCabe, Simon Brandon

Nearly three in four housing associations to respond to an Inside Housing survey plan to change their allocations criteria for under-35s in response to the “Local Housing Allowance cap”.

From 1 April 2018, social tenants who are under 35 and childless will only be eligible for housing benefitat the ‘shared accommodation’ rate, based on the cost of renting a room in a shared house or flat locally.

The cut, which will affect any tenancies signed from 1 April this year, will mean housing benefit no longer covers the cost of renting a housing association or council home for those tenants in the affected bracket, prompting fears from landlords that many younger tenants will be unable to afford to pay their rent.

Of the 47 large housing associations surveyed, 60% said they plan to change their allocations policyfor under 35s in the future as a result of the cap, while 13% reported they have already done so. Only 11% of respondents said they plan to make no changes.

Changes being considered include giving younger tenants assured shorthold or two-year tenanciesrather than secure tenancies; blocking under-35s from renting in certain blocks, or from renting new-build, affordable-rent properties; and only accepting tenants younger than 21 if the council agrees to pay their full rent.

Some landlords said they plan to reduce rents for under-35s, with Croydon-based AmicusHorizon saying these tenants would be allocated to social not affordable rent properties.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “These changes are about restoring fairness to the system and ensuring those on benefits face the same choices as everyone else.” The spokesperson added that councils can use Discretionary Housing Payments to help tenants.

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