Dear Mr Beales, Director of Communications, Shelter.
Thank you for your letter.
I should be clear at the outset, that it is the policy of haart that we will not discriminate against any tenant or applicant for any reason.
It is our responsibility to attract the largest number of tenants for the landlords who are our clients.
Clearly, it is up to landlords what policies they wish to pursue and we will conform with their wishes so long as they are legal. We do arrange tenancies for tenants in receipt of housing benefit and currently have 112 tenancies where this is the case. In certain instances, landlords may not be able to let properties to tenants in receipt of housing benefit for a variety of reasons including lending and insurance criteria. As you are also aware Government policy on housing benefit, such as payments being made directly to tenants (as opposed to landlords) and in arrears, has made it more difficult for landlords who require the regular and timely payment of rent in order to meet their own financial obligations.
I was very concerned when the results of your survey became available. We immediately contacted all staff reminding them of the policy and drew their attention to the relevant parts of haart’s training material that contain the policy. I have also spoken with those responsible for induction and training of our staff, who confirm that they brief our staff on the different reasons people may have for receiving housing benefit, and how they should be positively assisted.
I am determined that we should do everything possible to ensure that no misapplication of our policy arises in the future.
Accordingly, it would be very helpful, in the most positive spirit, if you could possibly share with me the names of our 8 branches so that I can arrange for additional coaching and clarification to be provided.
Paul Smith CEO - haart