Rising rents push vulnerable out of housing market

A new survey has revealed that the UK’s most vulnerable tenants are being pushed out of the private rental market as a result of rising rents and benefit cuts.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) Residential Market Survey has revealed that approximately one-third of respondents believe that access to private rented properties had fallen among people on housing benefits.

29 per cent of respondents cited housing benefit caps as the main reason why people living on lower incomes were being forced out of the rental market. The report also highlighted that those on lower incomes would face further difficult accessing the market as rents are expected to increase by in excess of 20 per cent over the next five years. House prices are projected to increase by around 18 per cent over the same period.

Moreover, the survey showed that the shortage of available properties to rent across the country is continuing to grow, with tenant demand exceeding the number of new instructions on the market for the thirty-eighth consecutive month and by an increasing margin.

Interestingly, the report highlighted the private landlord response to the difficulties this may cause, with 52 per cent of private landlords claimed that they would rent their properties to homeless people or those on housing benefits if the government introduced some form of state-endorsed deposit guarantor scheme, providing financial guarantees for both deposits and rent.

From 1 April, single people aged 18 to 21 will not be entitled to the housing element of universal credit unless they fall into certain categories, leading to fears among landlords that under-21s would be unable to pay their rent if planned changes to benefits were not reversed.

RICS is collaborating with the homeless charity Crisis to urge the government to do more to support vulnerable tenants through the introduction of help to rent measures, via its ‘A Home for Cathy’ campaign.

Sean Tompkins, Rics chief executive, said: “The housing market is falling increasingly out of step with the majority of household incomes. In the current climate, it can be hard enough for young professionals to make ends meet. But for those on benefits, the pressures may be insurmountable.”

Jon Sparkes, Crisis CEO, said: “This survey highlights the uphill battle many homeless people face when trying to enter the private rented sector. Renting is often the only way out of homelessness, but the vast majority of landlords now consider it too risky to rent to homeless people. This is a desperate situation to be in: to be ready to move on and start rebuilding your life only to encounter financial barriers and closed doors.

“With growing numbers of people stuck in this homelessness trap, we need to find ways to reassure landlords whilst supporting homeless people to find a place to live. That’s why Crisis’ Home: No Less Will Do campaign is calling on the government to underwrite a national rent deposit guarantee to ensure more support is made available to those trying to find a home to rent. They already help first-time buyers struggling for a deposit - we’d like to see them extend this help to those who need it most.”

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