Housing

Landlords pocket £1.6bn in housing benefit for providing renters with horror homes

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan blasted the “scandal” of landlords taking taxpayers’ cash to leave renters in ‘non-decent’ homes

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is calling for more support for renters

Mayor of London Sadiq has pledged to end rough sleeping by 2030. Image: Greater London Authority

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has branded it a “scandal” that private landlords in England receive £1.6 billion in taxpayers’ cash to leave renters in horror homes.

New City Hall analysis of English Housing Survey data showed landlords collectively pocketed £9bn a year for renting out homes that are dangerous, cold or in a state of disrepair.

London is the area with the highest rent spend with landlords receiving £3.5bn in rent funded by £500m in housing benefit.

Khan has renewed his call for rent controls to be introduced in London and has urged central government to give him the power to freeze rents in the English capital.

“It is a scandal that some private landlords are profiting from letting sub-standard housing that is unfit for 21st century living,” said Khan.

“Renters would feel more secure raising complaints about the condition of their property if they didn’t face the threat of arbitrary eviction, which is why I have long called for Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to be abolished. The government should also give me the power to drive up standards and introduce a rent freeze in London to help people during this cost of living crisis.

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

“If we are to continue building a better London for everyone, we need the government to step up to empower our city’s renters. Ministers must urgently introduce the long-promised Renters Reform legislation, properly fund borough private rented sector enforcement teams, and increase the fines for landlords who break the rules.”

The government promised to axe no-fault evictions, which allow landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason, back in 2019 and has confirmed it will remove them in the upcoming Renters Reform Bill.

However, despite support for rent controls in the UK’s devolved nations, the Conservative government has repeatedly rejected Khan’s proposals to intervene in the rental market.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Councils should use the powers we’ve given them to crack down on rogue landlords, including issuing fines of up to £30,000 and banning those who rent out unsafe homes.

 “Evidence shows rent controls in the private sector do not work, leading to declining standards and a lack of investment and may encourage illegal subletting.”

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

Outside of London, Yorkshire and the Humber is the area where landlords receive the most cash from non-decent properties, taking in nearly £1bn in rent from around 160,000 properties, funded by £130m a year in housing benefit

Meanwhile, private landlords in the South West accumulated around £870m in rent, with more than £160m of this coming from housing benefit through letting sub-standard homes.

Dan Wilson Craw, the acting director of Generation Rent, said: “It is an outrage that not only can private landlords provide worse accommodation than social landlords, but they get paid more for it. Increasing reliance on the private sector to provide housing has resulted in a higher bill for the public purse with nothing to show for it but poorer living standards.

“The government has an opportunity with the upcoming Renters Reform Bill to give private renters higher expectations of their landlord, and introduce much tougher penalties for landlords who fall short of the Decent Homes Standard.”

London Renters Union urged the government to invest in public housing, describing the figures as showing the “cost of privatisation”.

However, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, called for councils to do more to tackle rogue landlords but agreed with the government’s rejection of rent controls.

Beadle said: “Freezing rents would serve only to drive responsible landlords out of the market, exacerbate the supply crisis faced by tenants and leave them at the mercy of rogue and criminal landlords.”

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?
Angela Rayner announces Labour new town plan
Housing

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know