Buy-to-letJun 13 2019

Metro Bank shakes up rules for landlords

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Metro Bank shakes up rules for landlords
ByImogen Tew

Metro Bank is the latest lender to adapt its letting conditions to allow landlords to take on tenants on housing support.

The lender announced the move this week (June 11) following a round-table at Downing Street where Heather Wheeler, minister for housing and homelessness, and industry bodies discussed the ‘no DSS’ rules that stopped landlords renting to those collecting benefits.

Metro’s pledge is the latest in a series of moves from lenders — such as Rightmove and Zoopla — aimed to end potentially discriminatory practices which deny accommodation to those on benefits.

The issue came to light last year when one landlord claimed NatWest had threatened to revoke her buy-to-let mortgage when the bank discovered she was renting to a benefits claimant.

The campaign quickly gained support and the Residential Landlords Association urged the government to use its influence as a shareholder in certain banks to end the "discriminatory" practices.

In 2017, research from the RLA found 66 per cent of lenders representing 90 per cent of the buy-to-let market, including household names like NatWest, TSB and Virgin, did not allow properties to be rented to tenants in receipt of housing benefit.

At the start of March, NatWest lifted all such restrictions on its buy-to-let customers with property advertising platform Zoopla following suit in the same month.

The government has since stated that "no DSS" had "no place in a modern housing market" and stressed it was "determined to introduce a blanket ban on this practice".

Ms Wheeler said: "Regardless of financial circumstances, everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home and I have been determined to end the discrimination those on benefits face.

"I am thrilled that Metro Bank has decided to join us in ending the stigma surrounding tenants on housing benefit."

Minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, Will Quince, said the government was working to ensure everyone had the same opportunity to access safe and secure housing and agreed it was encouraging there were already positive changes.

David Hollingworth, director at L&C Mortgages, said: "The more lenders rethink their approach to tenancies for those on benefits the more the momentum builds toward removing those restrictions generally from the market."

He added this, in turn, would remove the barrier to landlords who have to restrict the availability of their property and that Metro’s decision would boost the range of options in the buy-to-let market.

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