Housing ‘crisis’ as benefits do not match rent levels in Portsmouth

Only seven properties in Portsmouth were found to be within the government's set limits for local housing allowance (LHA)
Only seven properties in Portsmouth were found to be within the government's set limits for local housing allowance (LHA)
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TENANTS on housing benefits are 'struggling' to rent homes in Portsmouth as almost all properties cost more than the local housing allowance, adding to what campaigners have branded a 'crisis.'

Set by government the local housing allowance (LHA) is supposed to reflect the bottom 30 per cent of each area's market rate. However, since the benefit was frozen nationally in 2016 homes have become increasingly unaffordable. 

Only one shared home was found within the LHA price of 299.14 a month but a parking space and mooring space were in budget. From Zoopla

Only one shared home was found within the LHA price of 299.14 a month but a parking space and mooring space were in budget. From Zoopla

A search by The News through major property sites Zoopla and Rightmove revealed currently only seven homes out of hundreds available to rent in the city would be affordable to those on benefits.

Labour councillor and housing activist Cal Corkery was concerned about the impact on the city's poorest. He said: 'For a single person who is unable to work that would mean they would have to use some of their Jobseekers' Allowance to pay for the rest.

'More and more people are having to rent privately but without the sufficient benefits to do that.

'At the end of the day we need more social and affordable housing. This is part of a wider housing crisis.'

Only two three-bedroom homes in Portsmouth fell within the 770.38 LHA rate. Picture: Zoopla

Only two three-bedroom homes in Portsmouth fell within the 770.38 LHA rate. Picture: Zoopla

Among the worst hit were single people under the age of 35 who would be expected to be able to rent a room in a shared home in Portsmouth for just £299.17 a month.

The search also revealed no two-bedroom homes under the limit of £644.32 a month.

Landlord and Southsea-based letting agent Alwin Oliver said: 'What I say to landlords about renting to people on housing benefit is you're not sure what money you're going to get, when you're going to get it and there's always a risk the government could "claw back" some of the money if there's a problem,' he said.

'The first problem is that the allowance is too low.

Most homes were advertised as student homes. Picture: Rightmove

Most homes were advertised as student homes. Picture: Rightmove

'The second problem is the system that deals with the benefit is flawed. It can take a long time for people to be processed and if there's a slight issue with how people have filled out forms their money can be stopped.'

The search also showed only one one-bedroom property at the LHA rate of £520.13, two three-bedroom homes within £770.38 and three four-bedroom properties for under £1,040.