Social landlords operate NO DSS and also discriminate

Shelter and the National Housing Federation are engaging in deliberate known deceit in their combined campaign over NO DSS in the private rented sector – A campaign that is so superficial it shames them both.  This is my view obviously yet it is also the ONLY view that can be taken by any objective look at the irrefutable official facts.

The official facts

The table below lists official rent data that is published by the governments housing department (MHCLG) in the English Housing Survey.  It also contains official housing benefit data published by the DWP (sources at end)

official rent and hb.JPG

Table 1 is the latest official year-end figures published and reveals that average housing benefit only covers 57% of the average PRS rent.  THAT is the main and obvious reason why private landlords do not accept the ‘benefit tenant’ and for obvious business reasons.  It is the acid affordability test.  Table 2 reveals that when the Tories took office housing benefit typical paid 70% of the average PRS rent and shows the extent of the Tory government policies to regulate the private rented sector through housing benefit.

NB The average housing benefit paid to private landlords increased by just 0.9% between 2010 and 2017 from £109.25 per week to £110.24 per week, an increase of 99 pence.

Average private rent increased by 23% (from £156 to £192) yet average housing benefit increased by 0.9% and is it any wonder that private landlords are hugely more risk averse to the tenant receiving housing benefit?

Now look at housing benefit in the social rented sector and we find that average housing benefit paid to both LA and HA landlords has increased by 22% and that average LA rent has increased by 36.6% over the same period and average HA rent has increased by 32.9%.

Is it any wonder that social landlords have become increasingly averse to the benefit tenant?  Housing Benefit at 22% has chronically failed to keep up with very excessive LA (36.6%) and HA (32.9%) rent rises over the period and means the benefit tenant is a no-no and NO DSS allocation policies in social (sic) housing are ubiquitous for that reason.

Note that over this period prices inflation was 16.6% and working-age benefit inflation was 8.3% and wage inflation was 10.8% and are all way below the rent increases of 23% (PRS) and 32.9% (HA) and 36.6% (LA) – This means that rented housing is far less affordable and is highly likely to be refused not just on a NO DSS basis but also to the low paid and in-work tenant too and even in what we miscall as social housing too!

Social landlords operating NO DSS … and worse?

polly neate end dss discriminationnat fed end dss

Yes they are and have been for some time and this is what the Shelter / National Housing Federation NO DSS campaign seeks to hide and is highly deceitful and duplicitous in choosing ONLY to blame the private landlord for what it alleges is discrimination by private landlords which it can only be IF social landlords do not operate the same NO DSS or refusals to accommodate based on affordability.

Social landlords however do routinely operate affordability tests and they do refuse to accommodate the benefit tenant and thus they operate the same NO DSS practices as the private landlord.  I issued a post about this in November 2016 (here) and many times previously and on this occasion in response to a House of Commons paper on the NO DSS discrimination issued at that time and who also completely ignored and failed t consider that social landlords operate NO DSS policies!!

can-private-lanlords-refuse-hb

In September 2017 a piece of research conducted by the University of Sheffield and commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Housing called Tackling Homelessness Together revealed that social landlords were increasingly refusing to take homeless nominations from LA homeless departments on “the grounds of affordability.”

This is exactly the same as the NO DSS ‘discrimination’ with no ifs or buts and in some respects much worse.  The so-called social landlord position in refusing here is we don’t care if you are legally homeless and in very expensive and wholly unsuitable temporary B&B style accommodation you cannot afford our rent so go away.

The tactful choice of the CIH wording of social landlord refusal on “grounds of affordability” is a more ‘acceptable’ way of saying NO DSS and nothing more and if in any doubt read the Tackling Homeless Together research here.

The National Housing Federation and Shelter are being deceitful and wholly disingenuous in seeking to blame only the private landlord and their twitter postings and the articles show this PRS only blame game of errant known deception.

Other evidence of social landlord NO DSS

A further ten-minute trawl of my local choice based lettings portal in Merseyside also revealed the extent of the “affordability” and NO DSS practices of housing associations (note there are no council housing landlords in Merseyside).  A look today saw:

A) LHT (Onward) – part of the 40,000+ homes Symphony Group and the largest social landlord entirely in the North West of England

A satisfactory Landlord and professional Character Reference will be required from successful applicants. All offers are subject to satisfactory online affordability assessment and the proof of right to rent in the UK. .

Decoded: Conditional upon an online affordability assessment and which could easily exclude those on benefit and those on low pay!!  I note with no small sense of irony that LHT (as was) have always stipulated that the online necessity of Universal Credit was discriminatory and penalizes tenants and now they are doing precisely the same thing!

B) Riverside – 2nd largest in Liverpool and over 55,000 homes nationally

Suitable for a couple or those who can demonstrate affordability.

Decoded – if you can afford the rent who gives a stuff about housing need or the alleged social purpose of allegedly social landlords!

C) HHT – Largest SRS landlord in MBC Halton

Suitable for couples without children or single persons who can demonstrate affordability.

 Decoded – If you can afford it then sod housing need or social purpose

D) KHT – Largest SRS landlord in MBC Knowsley

Payment in advance of one weeks’ rent plus service charges will be required from customers in all cases prior to tenancy agreements being signed. This payment will be required irrespective of the customers’ entitlement to Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit. If payment is not made before the tenancy is due to be signed then KHT will be unable to complete the process and the tenancy will not be granted, and the offer may be withdrawn

Decoded – NO DSS as to hell with the landlord waiting for housing benefit or UC housing payment to arrive if you can’t pay up front you ain’t getting the property – NO DSS and also note that KHT have over 70% of all social housing stock in Knowsley too.

E) OVH – Largest SRS landlord in MBC Sefton

One week’s advance rent payment will be required at sign-up. If you are in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit, you may not receive the full rent allocation and will be responsible for paying any shortfall. At point of offer you may be asked to complete online pre tenancy training.

Decoded – Paternalistic imposition of online (ahem!) pre tenancy training!!! And on top of payment in advance which can easily exclude the benefit tenant and again another variant of the NO DSS operation of purportedly social landlords.

F) LMH – Largest SRS landlord in Liverpool

The offer of this property is subject to a satisfactory Pre-Tenancy interview to check any affordability issues. 

Decoded – Tenancy conditional upon and subject to if you don’t pass the affordability test then bugger off!  No DSS and no social purpose personified

G) Magenta – Largest SRS landlord in MBC Wirral

NO DEPOSIT OR FEES RENT PAYABLE IN ADVANCE AT SIGN UP REFERENCES REQUIRED PREFERENCE GIVEN TO THOSE THAT FULLY OCCUPY, OTHERWISE THE ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE AFFORDABILITY MUST BE SHOWN

Do I really need to comment? Oh okay then if you can’t afford whether a benefit or low paid tenant then bugger off (note the capital letters are Magenta’s not mine.)

H) HHT (again)

Please note 4 weeks advance rent is required before receipt of keys Halton Housing Trust offer our customers a 24hr, 7 days a week, 365 days a year emergency and day to day repair service. Preference will be given to those who fully occupy the property and/or are able to demonstrate affordability via a Tenancy Assessment Form’. Please note – All pre offers letters will be sent via your email address provided

I’ve included the second Halton Housing Trust blurb to highlight so many less than subtle aspects of NO DSS from Halton Housing.

  1. Firstly, 4 weeks advance payment and for a weekly tenancy is bordering on theft and is decidedly asocial. 
  2. Secondly, the 4week advance payment wholly excludes the low income household whether the benefit tenant (N) DSS) or the low paid in-work household.
  3. Thirdly, the same HHT were like LHT above central figures in the HA challenge and anger over the ‘welfare reforms’ of bedroom tax and benefit cap. 
  4. Fourth, everything is dependent on affordability and a Tenancy Assessment Form.
  5. Fifth, the process is online only and offers after any such affordability assessment that must presumably also be completed online, will only be sent via email.

All 5 of these conditions are forms of NO DSS operated by HHT which is the former council housing of Halton Borough Council and that also has 70% of all social housing in the local authority area.

As you can see from the above the misnamed ‘social’ landlords who are the largest SRS landlords and have well over 100,000 SRS properties between them all state unequivocally – in their own marketing spiel – that affordability of the rent is the critical requirement, which while not unnatural to expect, is also the policy of NO DSS and all social landlords routinely practice and operate NO DSS and they do this by their own hand!

General Comments

I recognize that housing association landlords like any other business in any other sector needs to ensure that the tenant can afford to pay.  The ability of the customer to be able to afford any business good or service is paramount to all businesses in all sectors …

BUT  …

… the position from the National Housing Federation that NO DSS is exclusively a private rented sector matter and is not operable by social rented sector landlords is deliberate and known lie and hypocrisy.  That same charge can be applied to Shelter who also know full well that social (sic) landlords operate NO DSS policies as a matter of course.

The use of this knowingly false and wafer-thin superficial premise that only private landlords operate the emotive term of NO DSS renders Shelter’s charge that the practice is discrimination to be worthless and a campaign unworthy of a junior school debating society.

It also is one of many incompetent campaigns and articles and outpourings from Shelter that is errant, lazy and frankly fake news.

  • Nowhere has Shelter recognized that social landlords have imposed rent increases that far surpass the rent rise of private landlords over the past seven years.
  • Nowhere has Shelter recognized the indisputable fact that private landlord housing benefit has only increased by 0.9% in seven years while social landlord housing benefit has increased by 22%
  • Nowhere has Shelter recognized any of the above rent and housing benefit facts I reproduce here and thought I wonder is these SRS facts have anything to do with increased arrears, increased evictions, increased refusals to accommodate and increased homelessness in the UK.
  • Nowhere has Shelter accepted the indisputable fact that social (sic) landlords operate NO DSS practices

Instead, Shelter has revealed its incompetence by its own hand and has damaged its own reputation built up over 50 years by such a crass, overtly biased and errant campaign.  If there is a legal argument for NO DSS to be discriminatory, which there should be, then the campaign from Shelter aided and abetted by the same crass input from the National Housing Federation will see any such legal argument fail.

So instead of actually supporting those vulnerable groups for whom NO DSS does work against we see that Shelter has set those vulnerable people up to fail with this truly woeful, biased and wholly incompetent campaign.

___________________________

Sources:

The official rent data used in the Tables is direct from annex table 1.12 of the English Housing Survey and for rents at 31 March 2017. (The 31 March 2018 rent data will not be published until Jan/Feb 2019)

The official housing benefit data comes from the quarterly releases of the HB statistics from the DWP and also now available on Stat-Xplore

 

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