Metro Bank has announced that they will be changing their buy-to-let policy permitting landlords to rent to people claiming benefits, following a roundtable at Downing Street led by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP.
The government announced plans to meet with mortgage providers, landlord associations, tenant groups and property websites in March this year, after a warning from the National Housing Federation and Shelter that preventing people on benefits from renting may breach anti-discrimination laws last year,
The meetings are part of the government’s plan to actively encourage the dropping of all exclusions that prevent people claiming benefits from accessing the private rental market and ultimately ban this discrimination completely.
Director of lending at Metro Bank, Andy Piggot said: “Over recent months we have been working closely with a number of industry stakeholders, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, housing charity Shelter and our clients to better understand the challenges facing landlords and their tenants”.
Heather Wheeler, Housing and Homelessness Minister said: “Today’s meeting was yet another step forward, marking an important shift in making the private rented sector fairer for all – and I am thrilled that Metro Bank has decided to join us in ending the stigma surrounding tenants on housing benefit”.
Landlord’s hands have been tied
The government has stated that the ‘no DSS’ restriction has no place in the modern housing market, but asking landlords to consider tenants on an individual basis can only work if they are not subject to prohibitive mortgage policies.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has been campaigning for change for some time to assist landlords whose hands have been tied by restrictive mortgage policies, but highlight that the situation is a complex one due to the issues of affordability in the sector.
John Stewart, Policy Manager at the RLA, said: “The RLA has been working tirelessly to help landlords who do want to rent to tenants in receipt of benefits, but who have been restricted by mortgage conditions, something which is now being addressed by the industry. The real issue is affordability. The RLA believes the government now needs to end the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, which has left benefit payments bearing little resemblance to market rents”.
Metro Bank joins Natwest, which announced it would be lifting restrictions preventing landlords renting to tenants in receipt of benefits earlier this year.