Sadiq Khan calls for triple lock rules for renters: It could impact housing benefit and UC

Renters are currently protected from eviction under new rules from the government but these will end in the summer. Sadiq Khan recently expressed concern about these rules and has proposed a triple lock protection system for renters moving forward.

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This triple lock proposal includes the following:

  • “Immediately increase welfare support for renters, suspend the Benefit Cap, restore Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to median market rents, and cover any shortfall in rental payments of private tenants unable to pay them due to COVID-19 – including those with no recourse to public funds. This could be achieved by setting aside LHA rates for those who are affected by COVID-19.
  • “Once the temporary suspension of court proceedings is lifted in June, prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who have accrued arrears as a result of COVID-19. This could be achieved by making section 8 (the arrears ground for eviction) discretionary in court proceedings.
  • “Scrap so-called ‘no fault’ section 21 evictions. This would prevent landlords evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 using this route as an alternative to the section 8 method.”

As the proposals were announced Sadiq provided the following comments: “For too long, renters in the capital and across the country have been denied the security they need in the place they call home. The current crisis has brought these issues into stark relief.

“With millions of low paid renters in London now facing increased financial uncertainty we face a ticking timebomb of debt, arrears and widespread evictions once the suspension in court proceedings is lifted.

“The Government must urgently put in place measures that will prevent private landlords from evicting tenants who go into arrears as a result of COVID-19.

“Failing to bring in more support for renters will not only result in widespread financial hardship, but risks increasing the public health crisis, as renters may feel forced to return to work too soon with increasing debt and arrears hanging over their heads.”

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The suggestions for Local Housing Allowance caught the eye of landlords across the country.

Local Housing Allowance rates (LHA) are set and used to work out housing benefit for tenants renting from private landlords.

They are based on private market rents being paid by tenants in the broad rental market area.

LHA has been a focus for many politicians in recent weeks as it is a crucial tool for evaluating the growing rental market.

It has a direct impact on housing benefit which can still be applied for even though it is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit.

Housing benefit can help with paying rent but it is only possible to claim it if any of the following applies:

  • The claimant gets the severe disability premium or are entitled to it
  • They have reached state pension age
  • They’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

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Many people will be hesitant to move from legacy payments like housing benefit to Universal Credit as it can result in delays to income coming through.

This could be especially problematic at the moment with all the financial uncertainty going on, a reality that the National Residential Landlords Association is aware of.

Ben Beadle, the Chief Executive of the organisation responded to Sadiq Khans proposals: “Recent polling has indicated that just two per cent of private tenants have had to stop paying rent due to the pandemic whilst 78 percent have not had to make any changes to their living situation.

“This shows that the vast majority of tenancies are continuing as normal which we welcome.

“For those tenants who are struggling, by far the best solution is to ensure they are supported to prevent arrears building.

“We therefore welcome the Mayor’s calls to increase the Local Housing Allowance. In addition, we repeat our call on the Government to scrap the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit immediately and ensure tenants can have the housing element of the Credit paid directly to their landlord if they wish.

“This would provide tenants and landlords with the confidence that rents are covered and debts will not arise.”

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