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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Group recommends review of Shared Accommodation Rate

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has published a report, funded by the Residential Landlords Association, which recommends a full review into the operation of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR).  

Limitations of shared housing

The report contains a number of interesting findings;

  • over half of private tenants are aged over 35
  • numerous groups have reported a reduction in the supply of shared accommodation affordable at the SAR
  • landlords also acknowledge that there is a reduced willingness to supply quality accommodation due to the low rates of housing benefit paid to this group
  • there are concerns that the SAR is forcing people with mental health issues and other problems into unsuitable and potentially unsafe sharing arrangments
  • some parents with access are no longer able to accommodate their children on overnight visits

Recommendations

While the group does not recommend doing away with the recent changes to the SAR entirely, it has recommended a review into the current operation of the SAR.  This review should cover

  • whether the supply of shared housing can cope with the current demand
  • whether the SAR is set at a realistic level to enable claimants to secure accommodation
  • whether the exemptions are sufficient to protect those with mental health problems and other issues
  • what can be done to assist SAR claimants who have shared custody of children

The group also recommends that government require landlords to provide prospective tenants with information on the full costs of renting a property, including details of council tax and estimated utility costs.

Other issues considered

The report also considers other issues pertaining to private landlords operating in Great Britain; council tax, VAT rules, the Rent-a-Room allowance threshold and HMO development rights.

Response to the report

Generation Rent, a group that campaigns for a more professional and better managed private rented sector, was critical of the report stating:

“Half of 16-34 year-olds are renting privately and every week two days’ wages goes straight to their landlord. The private rented sector is systematically sucking money from the young and it will take much more than tinkering on the edges to give young people a secure and affordable home.

The recommendations in this report simply don’t go far enough and in most cases do no more than call for a review. This incremental approach fails to reflect an understanding of the pressure cooker in which renters of all ages are living today. We are counting on MPs to release that pressure, not to keep us simmering.”

Tagged In

Benefits, Outside NI, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform