Landlords ‘Get £140m In Benefits’

Landlords in Northern Ireland are receiving £140m a year from housing benefit, figures released by the Housing Executive have shown. A shortage of social housing means the Housing Executive is using privately rented accommodation more frequently.

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesperson Fra McCann said he was concerned at the amount being paid to private landlords. “People are being forced into the arms of an unregulated private sector,” Mr McCann said.

According to the west Belfast assembly member, 70% of the £55m paid out in housing benefit in Belfast in the past year went to private landlords. “The buy-to-let market has grown over this past number of years and the rents set by the private rented sector by far surpass that of the Housing Executive, which is also forcing people into debt,” he said. “A review needs to be carried out to look specifically at this sector and how they set their rents.”

However Barry Corscadden, chairman of the Landlords’ Association in Northern Ireland, said rental levels were market led. “I do believe that those people who are receiving Housing Benefit are choosing the private sector more and more because it offers more choice than the social sector,” he said.