The money from the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme should go straight to the private landlords concerned, as opposed to the tenants, according to property firm Clarity Investments.

Chris Jenkins, manager of the company, said the current system means tenants will not necessarily use the cash to pay their private landlord.

"At the moment the only way that a landlord is allowed to take payment directly is if their tenant is two months in arrears and if this is the case it is unlikely that any landlord will allow the tenant to stay anyway,"he explained.

Mr Jenkins also suggested that there is not enough awareness about some of the LHA programmes such as the one which sees local councils pay deposits for tenants as long as the cash goes directly into the recently-established tenancy deposit scheme.

Earlier this week, the research group BDRC reported that the number of private landlords who accommodate benefit claimants has more than doubled this year, compared to 2008.

Written by Sarah Field

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