Latest in the UK property news is that the housing benefit reforms which would be effective from next April onward, have forced the Councils in London to displace thousands of homeless families to live in temporary homes outside London, opposing ministerial demands that people should continue to be housed locally.
London Councils are in the process of acquiring housing properties across Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Sussex. The councils say they are in a helpless state as the rising rents coupled with the introduction of housing benefit reforms from next April, leaves them no option but to oust poorer families from London and placing homeless households in cheaper areas, which are often far from their home borough.
Councils said the displacement was inevitable because there was virtually no suitable private property rental for temporary accommodation for larger families in London that was affordable within government-imposed housing benefit allowances, which are capped at £400 a week.
Although it had been anticipated that affordable private rents in expensive inner city areas such as Westminster would be scarce, the acute housing shortage in London means property rents exceed the benefit cap levels in cheaper outer London boroughs including Haringey, Waltham Forest, and Barking and Dagenham.
Families have already begun to move from inner London to outer boroughs, with more expected from this month as transitional support for families affected by the housing benefit caps runs out. The government had hoped the housing benefit reforms would force landlords to reduce rents to within cap limits.
But councils say the demand for private property rental from tenants priced out of the housing market implies that most landlords see no reason to drop rents, and a substantial number have voiced that they will not consider renting to people who are claiming housing benefit.