PRIVATE tenants on housing benefit have been urged to contact landlords to negotiate, after cuts in housing benefit which could leave them in arrears.
Housing benefit caps have now been imposed on all private tenancies in the UK and could lead to payments falling short.
Miles Turner, director of eviction specialists, Turner & Howard, is urging tenants to contact their landlords if the benefit caps will result in arrears.
He said: “If tenants have not already done so, they need to contact their landlords immediately if they cannot afford the rent due to housing benefit caps.
“While the average rent loss will approximately amount to £600 per property on an annual basis in most of the UK, landlords need to note that if they instigate repossession procedures, it could cost them considerably more due to eviction costs and rental voids.”
The caps were introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions to reduce the housing benefit bill from £21.6 billion in 2011.
Under the changes the £207.69-a-week Local Housing Allowance rate for a five-bed house has been axed.
The maximum is now the four-bed allowance of £144.23, a reduction of £63 a week.
The weekly rate for a two-bed house has dropped by £11 a week, the three-bed rate is down by £7 a week and the four-bed rate is down by £17 a week.
There are 9,000 tenants in the private rented sector in Sheffield who receive housing benefit.
A City Council spokeswoman said: “We have been proactively contacting these customers to make them aware of the changes and offer advice and support where we can to help them manage the effect on their income.”