Scope of the inquiry
The Committee wrote to mortgage lenders, insurers, property agents and property ad sites with questions about how their policies end up treating people who are trying to rent a home and in receipt of a benefit.
The Committee has postponed an oral evidence hearing with landlords, agents and benefit recipients, originally scheduled for 20 March 2019. A new date will be announced as soon as possible.
A selection of each group - Natwest and Co-op Banks, Kensington Mortgages, Nationwide building society; Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group, Hunters and YourMove estate agents; OpenRent ad platform - have been invited to attend Parliament that day to give evidence on their policies. The Committee will also hear from a panel of benefit claimants and private landlords that day. Full details will be announced
In November, the Committee published correspondence with Natwest, when its lending practices came under scrutiny over the case of a landlord refused a re-mortgage - in fact threatened with revocation of the existing mortgage on the property - because she was renting the property to a tenant in receipt of housing benefit: Government must address housing “blacklist” created by lenders’ “no DSS” policy . Natwest’s review of its own policy is expected to report at the end of February.
The Committee is now asking Natwest, and a series of other mortgage lenders, whether their buy-to-let mortgage policy allow landlords to let to tenants receiving housing benefit, or any benefit.
It is also asking the lenders whether they are satisfied any restrictions they place on buy-to-let landlords would not inadvertently amount to unlawful discrimination against benefit recipients.