Meet the new “accidental” landlords

27th May 2021

There is a new type of accidental landlord – the ones who find themselves unexpectedly renting to tenants on benefits. Will the experience change their views of claimants?

Apartment blocks

This week, I went to the (virtual) National Landlord Investment Show on a mission to persuade landlords to rent to families on benefits following a great piece of research by Ligia Teixeira, PhD and the team at Centre for Homelessness Impact. Based on this, it’s clear they may need a lot of persuading!

 “While there is a supply of working tenants who will pay market rates, why on earth would you take tenants on benefits?” asks Richard Blanco, a landlord and London rep for the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA).

He believes persuasion backed by cash incentives are essential. (Incidentally, Capital Letters can offer both).

Nonetheless, more landlords are now renting to tenants on benefits for the first time. Covid doubled the number of claimants in a year to 6 million and in London alone the number has more than doubled to over 1 million. Some are existing private renters, thus creating new accidental landlords of claimants.

We do not see the eviction ban having an immediate impact. Some landlords facing arrears will choose the devil-you-know option – a previously reliable tenant, now on a repayment plan.

I hope a few myths are dispelled in the minds of landlords who have a positive experience of tenants on benefits.

The benefits system itself may be the bigger deterrent. Bill Irvine of Universal Credit Advice says there’s a lot of uncertainty and landlords need to spend some time understanding the system. But those that do can let their properties confidently to tenants on benefits.

Accidental landlords who have found themselves part of the benefits system may find the risks are lower than they thought.

Could Covid have opened up the private rental market a little so more families at risk of homelessness can find a settled home?

Ligia Teixeira, PhDCentre for Homelessness ImpactBill IrvineRichard BlancoNational Residential Landlords Association – NRLANational Landlord Investment Show

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