Young people are being forced to choose between racking up rent debts and risking their health due to restrictive housing benefit rules.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) warns that under 35s who are relying on housing benefit to pay their rent for the first time have found that the shared accommodation rate only covers the cost of a room in a shared house.

It says this will force many into cheaper, shared housing with strangers, creating anxiety for those worrying about being infected with Covid at a time when people are being urged to spend more time at home.

In a letter to Welfare Minister Will Quince (pictured), NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle has urged him to adopt the Social Security Advisory Committee’s recent recommendation to suspend the shared accommodation rate rule, for at least a year.

Beadle (pictured, below) says it’s unacceptable that younger renters are being forced to choose between building debts or compromising their health during a pandemic.


“While the vast majority of landlords have done everything they can to support renters whose finances have been hit due to the virus, it cannot be right that landlords and tenants are left to muddle through without greater support,” he adds.

“If money can be found to subsidise meals out, the Government must find the finances needed to support tenants, and in turn landlords, to pay off rent arrears, sustain tenancies and protect people’s health.”

The call comes as Government statistics show a significant rise in the number of younger Universal Credit claimants; in the four weeks to 8th October, the proportion of claimants aged between 16 and 24 was 27%, up from 21% in the four weeks to 12th March.   


  1. Younger people who rely on HB to pay their rent because they are 100% unemployed are unlikely to be able to secure any shared accommodation because of several reasons, not least the perceived, or actual, problems they might bring with them including drugs and alcohol problems, mental health issues, and having lots of friends over, parties, not paying the rent, etc. , and having the heating on 24/7. I have experienced all of these issues in the past as well as the theft of food and considerable wear and tear beyond fair wear and tear.
    As a landlord with HMOs I have empty rooms, but will not let to unemployed people of any age because of the risks above, and the inability to evict any nuisance tenants. If somebody has the heating on 24/7 it negates any profit I might have made from letting that room.
    For somebody to stay in my HMOs who is unemployed I would need rent of at least £150 pw and this is too much for an unemployed person.
    It’s a very sad situation, but it is not up to private landlords to provide the solution especially when there is no support from social services, the council, courts or anywhere.

    • I also own an HMO.
      I would let out a room to someone who was unemployed, but it would depend on the reason for them being unemployed.

      Some people want or need to move to a new location and they will usually quit their old job, then move and look for a new job in their new location.

      The labour market seems very different from when I left school, back in the 1980s. Young people don’t get a job in the same place as their parents and stay there for years.

      There’s a big difference between unemployed and unemployable.

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