A recent survey by Citizens Advice in Banbury showed that finding suitable private rental properties locally is a challenge for many people, especially those on benefits who struggle to find property that they can afford. Even more disturbing was the finding that many are now refused private rental because they are on Universal Credit even if they are in work and can afford the rent. This shows that landlords do not understand Universal Credit, as it includes benefits that previously did not limit their offer of a tenancy such as Child Tax Credit, Income support, Working Tax Credit, and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

More disturbing was that some respondents were evicted for complaining about the state of the property or asking for repairs to be carried out. This may be addressed by the Revenge Eviction Regulations which came into operation in June 2019 where you can ask the council's environmental health department to inspect your home if it is unsafe or in poor condition. You may then be protected from eviction depending on what actions the council chooses to take.

In our survey, less than half of the respondents had felt the need to ask for repairs to be carried out implying the properties were in good order. A quarter of respondents had repairs carried out satisfactorily, and a further quarter had asked for repairs to be done but said that the problems had not been fixed. A small number of respondents felt it was too risky to report repairs that needed doing, which calls into question the safety of their tenure.

Whilst it is clear that many tenants in the private renting sector appear to have stable tenancies with excellent landlords, the survey has highlighted that affordability for those who are unemployed and on benefits, such as single parents, remains a major obstacle to renting privately, with some on Universal Credit excluded altogether. This is particularly problematic as the demand for social housing exceeds the supply.

Anyone needing advice about housing can contact us on 0300 3309 037 or come to a drop in session to speak to an advisor.