Approximately one-third of homes (an estimated 1.4 million properties) in the private rental sector don’t meet health and safety standards, yet the majority are let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit. This creates an uncomfortable reality whereby the UK taxpayer is paying rogue landlords to provide poor quality housing to vulnerable people.
Current estimates suggest that £2.5 billion in housing benefit is handed to rogue landlords. One-third of this money is paid to landlords in London.
The Housing Benefit Bill is Soaring
This is a lot of money. Government spending on housing benefit has increased dramatically in the last seven years, as more and more people are forced into the private rental sector. The government has attempted to rein in costs, but their cost-cutting exercise hasn’t prevented some landlords cashing in and fleecing the system.
Landlords operating sub-standard housing are happy to pocket housing benefit from their tenants. Reputable landlords reinvest money in their properties, but rogue landlords don’t spend a penny making their properties safe and fit for human habitation. They don’t need to. After all, in many areas, the shortage of affordable housing has led to enormous competition.
What is a Non-Decent Property?
For a property to be classed as “non-decent” in the government’s eyes, it must be unsafe or downright dangerous, have a non-functioning or dangerous boiler, dodgy electrical wiring, poor quality sanitation, or be infested with vermin. 17 per cent of all private rental properties are in this category. Nevertheless, tenants still live in them and claim housing benefit.