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Won't accept me because I get universal credit

125 replies

keysonthehighshelf · 27/12/2019 19:57

I'm really shocked. I bring home 1500 a month, but am a lone parent who has left an abusive relationship. I get no maintenance for my son and due to this my outgoings are massive. 700 a month for the child minder full time. I'm trying to find a place to rent, found somewhere perfect for me and my one year old, but they won't accept me because I am on receipt of universal credit. Is this right? I didn't know this was a thing.

OP posts:
ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 11:54

How is it going to affect the tenant if the landlords insurance is invalid against rent not being paid?

AnotherEmma · 28/12/2019 11:58

Yes I did mean you, sorry!
I'm sorry to hear about your sister's experience, which is awful and should not have happened.
I really hope that council is unusual. I wonder if it was a Tory-run council and Tory MP? I don't think it would happen where I am (Labour council and MP).

LakieLady · 28/12/2019 12:10

@sarralim: I absolutely agree with you, this is discriminatory. Shelter started a case on this very point, but the claimant in question accepted a settlement of £2k, so the case was withdrawn.

I'd like to see this tested again, with both a disabled claimant and with a female, single parent claimant. Both are categories of people more likely to be in receipt of benefits. Women are more likely to be single parents and therefore also more likely to be on benefits than men, and people with disabilities are more likely to be on benefits than people without disabilities. Both examples therefore involve (imo!) indirect discrimination against people with protected characteristics. Mind you, it would have to be done before the bloody government tinkers with discrimination legislation!

UC has made it worse, because it catches a whole load more people, like OP, who would not have been discriminated against under legacy benefits.

It's not necessarily that easy just to not disclose the UC, as so many agencies require prospective tenants to submit bank statements.

One possible solution is to offer to pay the premium for landlord insurance that covers loss of rent. This worked for a couple of clients I supported when I was working in homelessness, and in one case the mortgagee was happy to accept it.

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland · 28/12/2019 13:05

Unfair tho it may seem, it's not even really about being in receipt of benefits.

Its about affordability. Someone claiming UC will generally be on a relatively low income, or an income that is low for a family affording the costs of children.

Landlords, and their lenders, want tenants who can comfortably afford the rent, with no assistance. They want this because it means even if some thing bad happens, the tenant/tenants are more likely to have savings or a second income to fall bavk on, & won't immediately be skint and fall quickly behind on payments.

Benefit claimants by default are going to poorer & have less surplus to absorb extra costs or a month out of work etc. They are inherently riskier to lend to.

In the case of OP, it is fabulous that they work hard etc but £1500 a month is not a huge income for someone with a child in childcare. Even if it became illegal to refuse to rent due to receipt of benefits, it would be easy for estate agents to simply carry out affordability checks, eg checking rent is not more than 25% of wage etc & block on that basis.

This is precisely why social housing is crucial and we need more of it. There's a shortage of housing in some parts of the country and as such the private market can be choosy and will not meet the needs of those on lower incomes. The state must intervene & provide more housing.

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland · 28/12/2019 13:07

Ps I suspect the government deliberately combined housing benefit with other benefits into UC to try & prevent landlords excluding HB tenants. They underestimated the scale of the housing shortage and the fact that it would mean Landlords would simply exclude all benefit claimants.

gamerwidow · 28/12/2019 13:09

I wonder if it was a Tory-run council and Tory MP?
Yes the MP not only didn't help but gave us a lecture on how great the Tories had been at putting in legislation for DV victims Hmm

Ohnoherewego62 · 28/12/2019 13:11

I hate this!!!

Whenever I've looked at private rental bits online, it's all no benefits tenants or no dss. It's beyond a joke in this day and age how they can get away with it.

Open discrimination and has mass of repercussions for those trying to get housing.

AnotherEmma · 28/12/2019 13:19

gamerwidow Angry

coconutty101 · 28/12/2019 13:23

What happens if you're in private rent..
Oh loses his Job due to health, then go on UC, are you meant to declare it and be made homeless?
We are still managing to pay all our rent on time.
I won't be declaring anything.

Op, it's a good idea about putting the UC in a different bank account so come 3 months there will be no sign of it.

OlaEliza · 28/12/2019 14:21

but they won't accept me because I am on receipt of universal credit. Is this right?

Of course it is. It's their property, so up to them who they let to.

Councils will now pay for people to fight their landlords in court, when asked to leave, all the while paying no rent. It's no wonder really that no one wants to go there.

GrapefruitsAreNotTheOnlyFruit · 28/12/2019 14:30

They want to change the rules as well so it will be harder for landlords to evict. So landlords will get more and more nervous about who they rent to.

Honestly I think the problem is this. The government (and many members of the public) have decided that private landlords are a bad thing. So they have taken measures to stop people being private landlords by increasing taxes and stamp duty and in some areas requiring expensive registrations. Also by capping the housing component of UC and not paying it direct to landlords.

But they haven't replaced the private landlord sector with anything else. Personally I would like to see an increase in social housing for rent.

dreichhogmanay · 28/12/2019 15:37

How is it going to affect the tenant if the landlords insurance is invalid against rent not being paid?

My insurance covers against the cost of rehousing my tenant if there is a fire or extreme water damage in my house.
If they have invalidated this insurance by lying to me and creating a false accounting system then they have invalidated this protection for themselves.
The insurance is part buildings insurance which helps give the tenant somewhere to live in the same way as a homeowner.

safariboot · 28/12/2019 15:44


I say bunk. If what you say was true, landlords would simply do affordability checks, perhaps with a statement that HB/UC are not considered for affordability.

But what landlords actually do is say "no benefits". Or "no DSS" - there hasn't been a DSS since 2001 which amply demonstrates how long landlords have been discriminating in this way.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 15:57


But in actual fact they’d be homeless & would qualify for emergency temporary accommodation from local council in that scenario, meaning they’d be housed quickly & qualify for social housing in the non immediate future.

dreichhogmanay · 28/12/2019 16:18

Emergency housing is very grim in many places and isn't somewhere I would want my dc if I could possibly avoid it.
It is also likely to be hours away in some parts of the country.
In an area with low housing demand this may be a successful strategy but in others it could see OP in a long term b&b hours from where she wants to be.
It is a small risk either way.
But I would be looking to house my tenants in similar quality housing in the area. Having been a council worker I know the council would be much less concerned with this.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 17:44

Emergency accommodation is often be in the same district you are already living DV of course.

If there was flooding or a house fire they would be housed and as you say temp accommodation is grim..believe me many wouldn’t want it- but it’s means to an end

You rehousing it’s them being regimes by council and ultimately gaining a council property far quicker, at a living rent without fear of 2 months notice.

Insurance is a gamble for the person holding the certificate and there is no guarantee the insurance company will be willing to rehome your tenants without some hoop jumping.

My neighbouring town is seeing landlords having to reduce rents or face long periods of paying council tax on empty properties. Landlords are changing their attitudes to who can rent their properties after there supply of tenants from JLR has dried up.

purpleme12 · 28/12/2019 17:50

What's JLR

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 17:51

Jaguar land rover

WaterOffADucksCrack · 28/12/2019 17:55

When I was a single parent I had "sorry we only rent to families". Like me and my son weren't a family! I worked and didn't claim a thing. We ended up somewhere pretty awful with a terrible reputation but kept ourselves to ourselves and had ok neighbours.

I hope you find somewhere soon. It's so tough. Good luck

ClutterbuckFarm · 28/12/2019 18:37

I am a landlord. Both my mortgage and landlord insurance include conditions specifically stating that I cannot let to tenants in receipt of benefits.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 18:42

And how will you know?

Even when people are asked outright are you on benefit, they genuinely say “ oh no” yet they get council tax benefit but don’t consider that benefit it’s tax relief

People that don’t want you to know and will hide it, having two bank accounts isn’t difficult

Justgorgeous · 28/12/2019 18:54

Hi. That’s awful, how much will your rent be though ? Will you be able to afford everything on. £1,500 per month ? I hope you find something soon.

Roomba · 28/12/2019 18:54

The government in their wisdom combined all benefits so someone who doesn't claim the rent element can still claim UC, whereas previously they only asked about housing benefit and didn't ask about tax credits.
Next time say no. What they mean is 'do you claim help with rent' which you don't, so say no.

Agree with this 100%. You're not paying your rent from the UC but your wages. You sound like you're well above the threshold to have conditionality requirements for your UC (ie finding work, finding higher paid work) so it is very unlikely you'll be sanctioned and lose the UC (and if you are it will be the childcare you'll have a problem paying not the rent). They have no means of checking if you are on UC for a small amount.

It's the insurers who have policies which are based on outdated scenarios that are at fault. What constitutes being 'on benefits'? Because someone working full time and getting a small amount of tax credits wouldn't answer that they are 'on benefits' - and plenty of them have rented with no issues before as it wasn't seen as 'on benefits' like JSA/IS/ESA is. Nor would someone who just got Child Benefit, or non means tested DLA when they worked full time. There is no distinction in the wording so it could include anyone earning up to about 60k a year if they have kids and get Child Benefit surely? Someone could earn a fortune but get a 25% discount on Council Tax due to being the sole adult - are they 'on benefits'? Technically yes, whatever their earnings.

HeIenaDove · 28/12/2019 19:01

@NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Except there are also housing associations charging higher rents now and you end up with the same outcome.

purpleme12 · 28/12/2019 19:04

No in insurance if you are working you are classed as working tenants even if you claim benefits on top

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