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Private landlords pocket £1.6bn in benefits from sub-standard homes

Nick Cheek
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Nick Cheek

Private landlords in England are receiving £9bn a year in rent for properties which are non-decent and £1.6bn of that is coming from housing benefit.

An analysis from New City Hall of the English Private Landlord Survey estimated the proportion of non-decent private rented homes in each region. 

It concluded that landlords in London received the highest amount in rent with £3.5bn covering 180,000 below standard homes, and estimated that £500m of that was from housing benefit. 

Yorkshire and Humber was the second worst-affected region, where 160,000 privately rented non-decent homes generated £1bn in rent a year, with £130m of that coming from benefits. 

This was followed by the South West, where landlords of non-decent homes were paid £870m in rent, with £160m coming from housing benefit. 

Based on the Government’s definition, a non-decent home is one which poses a risk to a resident’s health or life, is in a bad state of repair, cold, or lacks modern facilities. 

A profiteering ‘scandal’

This analysis comes after Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for a rent freeze in the capital earlier this month. 

Khan said it was a “scandal” that some private landlords were profiting from letting sub-standard housing. 

He added: “Renters would feel more secure raising complaints about the condition of their property if they didn’t face the threat of arbitrary eviction, which is why I have long called for Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to be abolished. The Government should also give me the power to drive up standards and introduce a rent freeze in London to help people during this cost of living crisis.   

“If we are to continue building a better London for everyone, we need the government to step up to empower our city’s renters. Ministers must urgently introduce the long-promised Renters Reform legislation, properly fund borough private rented sector enforcement teams, and increase the fines for landlords who break the rules.” 

Dan Wilson Craw, acting director of Generation Rent, added: “It is an outrage that not only can private landlords provide worse accommodation than social landlords, but they get paid more for it. Increasing reliance on the private sector to provide housing has resulted in a higher bill for the public purse with nothing to show for it but poorer living standards.  

“The government has an opportunity with the upcoming Renters Reform Bill to give private renters higher expectations of their landlord, and introduce much tougher penalties for landlords who fall short of the Decent Homes Standard.”