UPDATE: Nationwide have backed down releasing the following statement on their facebook page:
“The Mortgage Works, a subsidiary of Nationwide Building Society, has removed the exclusion of tenants on benefits and Local Authority tenants from its Buy-to-Let terms and conditions. This follows concerns raised by its customers.
“The clarification of the terms and conditions, which took place last December, brought The Mortgage Works into line with several other Buy-to-Let lenders. This will now be removed.”
In a shocking, and possibly illegal decision, one of Britain’s biggest buy-to-let mortgage lenders is to ban landlords from accepting tenants on Local Housing Allowance.
This nasty little move will mean unemployed, disabled people, many pensioners and people on low wages will be locked out of a large sector of the private rental market. This comes at a time when homelessness is soaring and the bedroom tax is set to force hundreds of thousands of people out of local authority housing and into the private sector.
Nationwide’s subsidiary, The Mortgage Works, are one of the largest mortgages providers for the buy-to-let vermin who have caused soaring rents and house prices. The company say: “Previously, lending to landlords with local authority tenants was not explicitly referenced in TMW’s lending criteria. Our re-issued terms and conditions make it explicit that local authority tenants are not acceptable.”
By local authority tenants they actually mean Housing Benefit tenants. Many tenants on Housing Benefits are working, however should they lose their job, become disabled or fall ill, then they may now face homelessness as their landlords will have no choice but to evict.
In truth it is none of a landlord’s fucking business, or his banks, whether tenants are on benefits or not and there is no requirement to tell them. This will sadly be of cold comfort to many tenants however, who all too often live in fear of eviction on the whims of the landlord. Most tenants can be thrown out of their home for any reason or none with just two months notice.
Nationwide’s decision comes on the back of savage cuts to Housing Benefits which have already made much of the South East of England unaffordable for people on low incomes. The growing homelessness epidemic in the South is soon to be matched by mass homelessness in Northern England, Scotland and Wales as the bedroom tax begins to bite.
On top of this will come the drip drip effect of George Osborne’s decision to cap annual Housing Benefit rises at 1%, despite a soaring rental market. And in April this year the benefit cap begin to kick in which will force thousands of people out of London or onto the streets.
Already the cuts have led to local councils placing homeless families in hotels which can cost almost £3000 a week. People’s lives are being torn apart and the Housing Benefit bill is still rising.
No DSS has long been a common sign on the windows of letting agents. Some landlords say they will not even take working tenants on DLA, effectively banning disabled people from their housing. This, along with punitive deposits, credit and reference checks, mean accessing private sector housing is more difficult than ever before for those on low incomes.
At present people with resident children, or those disabled or unwell enough to convince their council they are officially ‘vulnerable’, are legally able to gain some help should they become homeless. Increasingly that means B&Bs as the number of people presenting as homeless rockets.
Yet landlords, mortgage lenders and property speculators are making millions as they exploit the soaring demand for housing. In many parts of the UK, even a so called ‘living wage’ is not enough to pay the rent. If Nationwide’s greedy demand is repeated by other lenders and landlords then it will mean disabled, sick, unemployed or low waged workers are effectively barred from housing in the UK. You can tell the recession profiteers what you think of that on twitter @AskNationwide or at: http://www.facebook.com/NationwideBuildingSociety
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid