Housing benefit shortfalls and “the actions of some landlords” are pushing Welsh renters into financial hardship and inadequate homes, a new report by the Bevan Foundation has said.

The report found 95% of properties advertised for rent in Wales this summer were above Local Housing Allowance rates, with one council officer describing properties available to claimants as “the toilet end of the market”.

Despite a 2020 court ruling banning landlords from discriminating against benefit claimants, researchers say landlords have developed new techniques to exclude low-income potential tenants – including minimum income requirements and “excessive” deposits.

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Hugh Kocan, Housing Policy Officer at the Bevan Foundation, said: “Over the summer of 2021, the LHA rate only covered the cost of rent in full for 4.8% of homes advertised on the market across ten Welsh local authorities.

“With so little choice on the market, low-income households are faced with a choice between moving into accommodation that they struggle to afford, moving into low quality housing, or risking homelessness.”

Local Housing Allowance rates determine the level of financial support a claimant will receive through Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

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LHA is set by council officers, based on rent costs for the cheapest 30% of properties within a given area. How much support a person receives depends on their age, how many people they live with, and the age and gender of any dependants.

In Cardiff, for example, the maximum LHA for a one-bedroom property is £483.28 per month. In Gwynedd, the maximum amount is £320 per month.

A single adult aged under 35 with no children can only claim the lowest level of support, and only for shared accommodation (i.e. a House of Multiple Occupation). 

This support amounts to £288.44 per month in Cardiff, and £300 in Gwynedd.


The Bevan Foundation analysed nearly 3,000 rental property adverts in ten Welsh local authority areas this summer, and interviewed council homelessness and housing department staff across the country.

The researchers found that the rents of just 4.8% of advertised properties were at or below LHA rates, with a total average shortfall of £160.51 per month.

They say that practices by some Welsh landlords – such as minimum income requirements, hefty deposits and obligations to provide a guarantor and multiple references – serve to further narrow options for low-income renters.

Despite a 2020 legal judgement declaring the practice of refusing tenancies to benefit claimants to be unlawful discrimination, the Bevan Foundation says that nearly a quarter of analysed property adverts explicitly stated “No DSS [Department of Social Security]”, and nearly a third stated a preference for “professionals”.

As a result, they say, benefit claimants may be forced to accept tenancies in poor quality housing, or to “couchsurf”.


“The pandemic has highlighted just how important it is that everyone has access to a warm and secure home,” Mr Kocan added.

“It is vital that we take action to establish a more open and robust LHA system that provides people with the support they need to access good quality housing in their communities.”  

Welsh Labour pledged in their Senedd election manifesto to “develop a national scheme restricting rent to Local Housing Allowance levels for families and young people who are priced out of the private rental market and those who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness.”

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In their 2021-2026 Programme For Government, references to those priced out of the private rental market were removed.

Last week the Bevan Foundation released a report highlighting “rocketing” problem debt in Wales, with the impact felt “overwhelmingly” in low-income households.

Dr Steffan Evans, Policy and Research Officer at the poverty thinktank, has also warned that the UK Government’s planned £20-per-week cut to Universal Credit will have a “devastating” effect on Welsh communities.

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.

Housing support and advice can be found through Shelter CymruCitizens Advice and Crisis.

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