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Posted on January 30th 2015 by admin-movingin

Benefit sanctions wrongly hitting landlords, says RLA

Sanctions imposed on Job Seeker Allowance and Employment Support Allowance claimants are unfairly leaving private landlords with mounting rent arrears, claims the Residential Landlords Association.

The RLA says the problem is caused by the Department of Work and Pensions misinforming councils on the status of JSA/ESA claims, which then prompts suspensions and cancellations of Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance claims when in reality this should not happen. 

The RLA says this problem is getting worse despite growing awareness of it within the DWP and some local councils. 

“Landlords, already reeling from some of the worst effects of welfare reform, are also experiencing mounting rent arrears, caused by this same issue, which needs to be addressed by both councils and DWP urgently” says the RLA.

Recently the association’s Housing Benefits Advisor, Bill Irvine, has handled several cases involving around £15,000 in rent arrears. 

In all cases, the private landlords have been reluctant to pursue recovery action, believing the problem would resolve itself.  The landlords are now trying to have the lost benefits restored and avoid the need for legal proceedings to recover debt and evict tenants.

The RLA describes the number of sanctions being applied against benefit claimants as “staggering.”  

During the year to March 2014, more than one million tenants were penalised this way, prompting a sharp rise in the number of councils suspending and sometimes cancelling Housing Benefit/LHA.