A dearth of local council and DWP staff doesn’t bode well for the government’s plans to clamp down on landlords renting out poor quality homes to benefit claimants, according to one Universal Credit expert.

Under reforms announced in the Queen’s Speech, it aims to slash the £3 billion a year in Housing Benefit estimated to go to landlords renting out sub-standard homes.


housing benefit

However, Bill Irvine (pictured), of UC Advice, tells LandlordZONE there are questions over how PRS properties will be assessed and who will carry out this function.

“Housing Benefit staff used to carry out regular property visits to establish residence before making a Housing Benefit award and could refer cases to the rent officer or reduce Local Housing Allowance if concerns of poor conditions were evident,” he says. 

“Nowadays, local authorities rarely carry out property visits. Similarly, rent officers rarely visit properties, unless the tenancy started prior to 2008.

DWP used to employ ‘visiting staff’ to carry out benefit entitlement spot checks and they could pick up on issues like overcrowding.

“Nowadays that doesn’t happen. So, who will carry out the property inspections, what criteria will be used and what appeal rights, if any, will landlords have?”

While landlord groups such as Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association have welcomed the announcement, they fear the initiative will only work with more co-operation between central and local government, along with proper direction of funds.


decent homes david reynard

David Renard (pictured), housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, tells LandlordZONE that a legally binding Decent Homes Standard to improve conditions in the private rented sector is a positive step.

However, he adds: “Any new responsibilities falling on councils will need to be adequately funded, and we look forward to seeing more detail in the forthcoming Private Rented Sector White Paper.”

Renard also argues for the removal of the requirement for Secretary of State approval for larger licensing schemes, a national landlord registration scheme, and “adequate funding to develop appropriate responses to the challenging nature and context of the private rented sector”.


  1. Firstly, any landlord letting sub-standard accommodation MUST be named. shamed, financially penalised and even be barred from being a LL.

    The problem is that LLs who don’t care about the quality of their property will simply move away from tenants claiming benefits – there are lots of fully employed people desperately searching for properties who will move in (who hopefully will then force the LL to make improvements and have some financial means to back up their demands).

    95% of LLs with decent properties do not want benefit tenants.

    So, where do all the homeless people on benefits live? – for that matter, where do the Syrians, Ukranians, economic channel migrants live?

    Thankfully, every Government over the last 30 years has ensured 10,000s of affordable homes have been built – OOPS

    But, at least the social housing we do have meets the 2006 Decent Homes Standard – OOPS again

    Today, our law-breaking PM is threatening to reduce the public service by 60,000 jobs (when you’ve worked with them like I have, you’ll probably think 200,000 wasters need to go) – anyway, if they lose 60,000 then there are even fewer left to chase up on standards so it will amount to nothing.

    And lets be honest, they are threatening to sack 60,000 in a very poorly disguised way to get them back in to the office – as Rees-Mogg certainly doesn’t know how to encourage them back does he.

    • | Firstly, any landlord letting sub-standard accommodation MUST be named. shamed, financially penalised and even be barred from being a LL.

      I have known landlords who have faced miscarriages of justice. The Council with local politicians, police turned up to a housing bust with TV crews (it was election time) and found it overcrowded with 30 people. The tenant was the one profiting by subletting and turn it into a doss house. The council took no action against the tenant (since they can do no wrong). They went after the landlord and the letting agent. It did n’t matter to the council. They plastered the photos of the landlord in the newspaper like paparazzi shots. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?. Try clearing your name after that. We don’t live in American, where they would have face multi-million dollar lawsuits….

      • Regular inspections every 3 or even 6 months would have shown an issue of overcrowding.

        If the tenant refused access, write to the Council (purely as a paper record that you tried) and then evict the tenant at end of agreement.

  2. “Housing Benefit staff used to carry out regular property visits to establish residence before making a Housing Benefit award”

    Given that photos of properties are on various portal, it is easy which properties are run down.

    Councils already have licensing schemes – where they inspect properties. Will they have duplication?

    Who keeps the rent reduction money? The tenant or the Government?

    Housing Benefit payments are in arrears. There are problems trying to get tenants out, when needed for refurbishments. Why would anyone want to rent to someone on housing benefit? Labour will not say anything, which appears to favour landlords, but the Torys are making it harder for those on benefits.

    What if a HB tenant turns a property to trash, do landlords get extra danger money? The Government wants rend reduction for a property which has poor standard. Why does n’t work both ways? Why not have a rent increase for a tenant who is not looking after the property. The Government should pay more. This way, they will come up with laws, which protect landlord properties.

    I have had properties which have been wrecked because it became a well known scam that if you got evicted you were put in temporary accommodation and you got to jump the council housing waiting list. I never got justice. I have out of pocket for tens of thousands.

    What about tenants who were in receipt on housing benefits via LHA and did not pay their rent? How did the Government going to make it right for me?

  3. I agree entirely with the above. As I first heard the announcement, my first thought was, ‘hang on, what about those landlords whose tenants are on Housing Benefit, their properties are in good order, and they still don’t get the rent?’ So why are they now talking about withholding HB when the properties are not in good order? As I have heard on many portals, it is hard for Landlords to get HB payments paid directly to them in any case. The government is making out that it is easy for LL to get HB paid to them, which is not the case any more.
    As usual the government is going about this in a cack handed way and while they are about it, bashing LL along the way, so we are even less likely to take on HB tenants, which exacerbates the whole housing problem and costs Councils more to home them.

  4. No sane LL would accept direct payment of HB!!.

    Surely every LL knows about ‘clawback?’

    Now Credit Union payments a different situation.

    So CU receives ALL welfare payments.

    Then BEFORE the feckless waster welfare tenants can get their sticky mitts on the HB the FULL contractual rent has been sent by the CU to the LL.

    Whatever remains may withdrawn by the tenant.

    That is the only way that sensible LL would ever accept direct payment.

    This method will reinforce to the tenant that moving to cheaper accommodation will leave them more of their collective welfare payments to spend.

    Of course all the lazy feckless welfare scroungers could work 16hrs pw and avoid the OBC

    Few of them will though because it is in their nature to be FECKLESS.

  5. Who decides what is a DHS!?
    .Rather subjective.

    Most properties let to DSS tenants tend to be of lower quality which is how DSS tenants can afford to rent.

    You simply CANNOT have champagne quality for beer money

    Insisting on this will cause LL to sell up the lower quality properties due to it rarely being financially viable.

    That makes homelessness even worse for poorer tenants.
    Politicians seem to forget that most sane LL are in the game to make PROFIT!

    Obviously for that to be achieved with reasonably appointed properties

    Using an analogy.
    There are star classifications for hotel and B & B accommodation.

    All acceptable standards offered at different price points.

    The DHS along with EPC C requirements will cause a mass exodus of LL even more than are currently leaving the AST market.

    Of course all these circumstances should be NO surprise.
    Govt will use any strategy to eradicate small LL.

    So LL can rail against all these things but they must realise that Govt will stop at NOTHING to get rid of small LL.

    Indeed LL should expect even more anti-LL policies to occur.


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