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MPs, landlords and Crisis urge chancellor to fund schemes to help homeless people rent and help ease roll-out of Universal Credit

25.10.2017 1006 XX

New figures show just two in 10 landlords would rent to tenants on Universal Credit

Today, MPs from across the political spectrum were due to unite with Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, at Westminster to urge the Chancellor to fund local projects aimed at helping homeless people into renting ahead of the Budget next month.   

Homeless people can struggle with the upfront costs of renting, while landlords often consider it too risky to rent to them. It is feared on-going problems with the roll-out of Universal Credit are adding to the issue with just two in 10 private landlords saying they would rent to people supported by Universal Credit.

Together with private landlord bodies the National Landlord Association and Residential Landlords Association, Crisis is calling on the Government to commit £31m a year to help homeless people into renting through ‘Help to Rent’ projects and by funding a national rent deposit guarantee scheme.

Help to Rent projects can help alleviate landlords’ concerns by providing training for tenants, ongoing tenancy support and services for landlords. At the same time the schemes build strong relationships with landlords and reasons for benefit delays are explained as well as the steps being taken to address them. Homeless people are also supported to overcome financial obstacles to renting, such as the need for a deposit, fees and rent upfront, making them less risky tenants.

Crisis is calling on members of the public to join the campaign and email the Chancellor now.

Barry Deighan, who was homeless for a year before being helped by a Help to Rent scheme, said:

“I had always worked as a chef with live-in accommodation, but one day I lost my job. I had nowhere to go and was sleeping all over the place, in stairwells, wherever I could. After a year someone pointed me to Crisis and a case worker found me a property through a Help to Rent scheme within minutes.

“It was such a relief – after all that time and worrying to find somewhere that quickly. They helped me with a deposit and I’ve now been here eight months - I never could’ve found somewhere to live if it hadn’t been for this scheme.”

Mike Lipton, a landlord who rents out nine properties through a Help to Rent scheme, said:

“Help to Rent schemes crucially help those who need it most. They also help me by guaranteeing my rent is paid. I have an excellent relationship with those that run the scheme and it takes all the hassle out of letting to people on benefits.”

Will Quince, Conservative MP and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness, said:

“If the Government is to make Universal Credit work for everyone then they need to make sure the most vulnerable are protected. That’s where ‘Help to Rent’ projects come in – a simple and cost-effective solution that works for both homeless people and landlords.”

Neil Coyle, Labour MP and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness, said:

We must ensure that Universal Credit doesn’t make things worse for people facing homelessness – or indeed, cause them to lose their home. Help to Rent projects can help to mitigate some of the worst impacts, offering benefits to tenants, landlords and the public purse, and I hope the Chancellor will listen to our concerns as he prepares to deliver his Budget next month.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:

“If you’re homeless, private renting may be your only hope of finding a place to live. Yet homeless people are finding it harder and harder to secure a private tenancy. Added to this is the significant complications the roll-out of Universal Credit is causing.

"Far too many people are experiencing delays in their payments, meaning they can’t pay their rents. At best, landlords will start to see recipients of Universal Credit as ‘risky tenants’. At worst, this could result in people losing their homes, and with homelessness on the rise, that’s a road we just can’t afford to go down.

“We need to make sure – whether the system is rolled out or delayed – that the most vulnerable tenants are properly supported. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to fund Help to Rent projects and establish a national rent deposit guarantee scheme this Autumn Budget to help renters secure a tenancy and maintain their payments, and give landlords the peace of mind they need.”

To email the chancellor visit: https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/home-no-less-will-do/