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In England and Wales, the private rented sector (PRS) plays a crucial role in providing homes for vulnerable and low-income tenants. With the supply of social housing declining, the PRS has become increasingly important in housing those who rely on welfare or have experienced homelessness.  

However, challenges with the implementation of Universal Credit and the freeze on Local Housing allowance mean landlords often lack confidence in the welfare system. As a result, the PRS is unable to contribute more significantly to addressing the ongoing homelessness crisis. 

About the Campaign

The NRLA is campaigning to ensure that the PRS can provide the much-needed homes for everyone including those who are vulnerable and on low incomes. 

Practical improvements to the welfare system are needed to improve landlord confidence and ensure Local Housing Allowance rates match market rents.  

We are calling for the Government to:  

  • Unfreeze and realign Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile to ensure they reflect local market rents. 

  • End the five-week wait for Universal Credit at the beginning of a claim, with the advance payment currently made as a loan converted to a grant, so tenants do not automatically fall into debt at the outset. 

  • Give tenants the right, if they so wish, to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord at the outset of a claim. 

  • Review the benefit cap, which is still at the level it was set at in 2016, despite significant increases in the cost-of-living since then.

Our Impact

The NRLA is engaging and working with stakeholders across the housing sector to help reduce homelessness across England and Wales by improving access to the private rented sector. 

  • We have worked in partnership with the Centre for Homelessness Impact and the Behavioural Insights Team to conduct research into possible interventions to encourage private landlords to rent to people receiving Universal Credit. 

  • As part of our homelessness campaign, we are engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of landlords to ensure Local Housing Allowance is unfrozen and improvements on the implementation of Universal Credit are considered. 

  • In an effort to establish innovative solutions to address the homelessness crisis in England and Wales, we have partnered with the national charity for homeless people, Crisis, to support and identify landlords interested in housing people who have previously been homeless. 

Related Documents

Learn more about the research conducted by the Centre for Homelessness Impact and the Behavioural Insights Team in partnership with the NRLA.

Housing First and the Private Rented Sector

The guide to Housing First for Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords in Wales who are interested in the approach and might consider being part of a Housing First project.

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