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News: BTL landlords accused of taking advantage of the growing homeless population

Thu, 03 Jan 19

We all know that buy-to-let investors provide a vital service for people looking for housing, and yet an article in The Guardian today claims that councils are being ‘ripped off’ by private landlords.

A growing number of people are left with no alternative but to rent privately, with research showing that most tenants are satisfied with their existing landlord, and yet landlords continue to be massively underappreciated and demonised by the mainstream press.

The Guardian makes reference to new figures that show English councils spent £997m on temporary accommodation in 2017-18, a 71% increase on the £584m in 2012-13.

Some councils are reportedly spending up to £200 per head of their population on sheltering homeless households, as a result of the government’s failure to end homelessness.

The number of homeless households in England in temporary accommodation has increased by almost half - 47% - in the last five years, according to official figures.

At the end of June this year, there were 82,310 families in temporary accommodation, up from 55,840 in June 2013.

About 55,000 London households are living in temporary accommodation, and almost 70% of England’s homeless families are based in the capital.

Most London councils rely on small private landlords to provide their temporary accommodation, which means that some landlords can make a profit by renting properties to councils for homeless households.

But somehow, Councillor Darren Rodwell, the London Councils executive member for housing and planning, seems to think that taxpayers are being ‘ripped off’ by the crucial service provided by private landlords.

He said: “These figures show how local authorities and taxpayers are being ripped off by failings in the national approach to this issue.

“The government needs to take action. It’s clear we can’t keep relying on increasingly expensive private-sector accommodation, so more must be done to boost provision of social housing.”

Greg Beales, the campaign director of Shelter, points out that the “long queues of homeless families” turning to councils for help with temporary accommodation are just some of the “unwanted consequences of welfare cuts, rising rents and a failure to build social homes”.

The minister for housing and homelessness, Heather Wheeler, said: “Having somewhere to stay and a place to call home is vital in helping those who are homeless rebuild their lives, and we are determined to make this a reality.

“Temporary accommodation acts as an important safety net – ensuring that the most vulnerable have a roof over their heads until longer-term housing can be found. We’re providing more than £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness, including funding for programmes such as the Private Rented Sector Access Fund, which will support more homeless families into long-term private rented accommodation.”

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