Rogue landlords are being given billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for renting out inadequate housing, according to new analysis of government figures. Some of these homes do not even meet basic health and safety standards, which could be putting their tenants’ health or lives at risk. According to analysis of the annual English Housing Survey figures, rogue landlords will receive more than £12 billion through housing benefit in the next five years. According to The Independent, this could help to build more than 500,000 new homes.
About £2.5 billion a year is given to landlords whose properties do not meet the government’s benchmark for acceptable accommodation. This could mean its heating is inadequate, sanitation is outdated or the property is in a serious state of disrepair or unsafe because of faulty wiring, a dangerous boiler or infestation of vermin. Housing benefit spending is £24 billion, of which £8.8 billion is handed to private landlords. Analysis of data from the annual English Housing Survey shows more than 25% of housing benefit paid to private tenants is handed over to rogue landlords.
The figures were uncovered by shadow housing secretary John Healey, with the help of the House of Commons Library. He said that most landlords provide housing which tenants are satisfied with, but these rogue landlords are ripping off tenants and taxpayers by making billions of pounds through housing benefit where their renters live in inadequate housing.
This highlights another area where professional landlords are paying the cost of the rogue ones who do not comply with the law or have no regard for their tenants. Whilst rogue landlords are being awarded £2.5 billion a year in housing benefit, professional landlords are paying £2 billion a year into government coffers through the ‘landlord tax’, which has seen increased stamp duty charges for buy-to-let and second homes. The policy was introduced in April, and means that anyone investing in a second home or buy-to-let has to pay an extra 3% in stamp duty. To put it simplistically, professional investors are raising funds to be handed over to rogue landlords in the form of housing benefit.
Professional landlords are also paying the price for their rogue counterparts through local authority licensing schemes, where they have to pay to be licensed in certain areas of a borough in a bid to stamp out anti-social behaviour.