The Daily Mail has accused landlords of exploiting legal loopholes to rake in millions in housing benefit payments from tenants, whilst allowing them to live in sub-standard accommodation.
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The Dispatches program, which aired on Monday on Channel 4, showed how landlords operating in the private sector are now receiving around £9billion a year from the public purse.
Rogue Landlords Provide Poor Value for Money
200 individual landlords have each pocketed £1million in housing benefit payments. The majority of Britain’s landlords provide an excellent service. Their properties are well-maintained and tenants have no cause for concern. However, a small minority are happy to collect housing benefit payments from their tenants, despite the fact that the accommodation provided is in an appalling state.
Bedsits Attract More Housing Benefit Cash
A housing scheme in London has seen large houses converted into multiple tiny bedsits, each with a small shower room and the bare minimum cooking facilities. Opportunistic landlords have discovered that they can collect a higher rate of housing benefit renting these small units to tenants than they would if the property was let as a shared house.
Some councils are even offering landlords incentives to take on housing benefit tenants; such is the lack of available social housing. The Dispatches team film one letting agent boasting that he is paid up to £1,000 by his local authority to find suitable rooms for tenants claiming housing benefit.
Dr Victoria Cooper from the Open University has described the practice as a redistribution of wealth into the pockets of private landlords.