The current media rhetoric around tenants on benefits is stigmatising the LHA market and misrepresenting tenants, according to Dssmove.co.uk, the no 1 website for tenants searching for LHA properties in the UK.
Channel 4’s highly controversial ‘Benefits Street’ and Fergus Wilson, the Kent-based professional landlord who recently announced that he will no longer be accept benefit tenants, are giving a heavily distorted impression of the market.
According to Aki Ellahi, Director of Dssmove.co.uk, the vast majority of benefit tenants are not like this at all: “I have currently 500 tenants on benefits and achieve a rent collection record of 100%. Unfortunately in any market, there are bad apples and Channel 4 has searched for and found an unsympathetic example of unemployed people, portraying them in the worst possible light.
The programme does not give an accurate reflection of the market – just compelling TV, for some. What’s more, Fergus Wilson’s attack on benefit tenants looks like no more than a calculated commercial move to take advantage of the swell of the immigrant market it Kent. If our borders weren’t so open to immigrants, would Mr Wilson be turning his back on the DSS market?
“Landlords that are refusing to take on benefit tenants are extremely shortsighted. The facts are that out of 30 LHA tenants, there will be one headache and out of every 100, there will be a big problem. This is no different from professional tenants. Many landlords that are rejecting LHA tenants are citing Universal Credit as the reason. The fear of Universal Credit is unfounded. What landlords don’t realise is that it gives landlords the opportunity to have a direct relationship with the tenant on housing benefit, so any problems can be sorted quickly.
“Universal Credit puts LHA tenants on the same footing as private tenants. Both markets suffer from arrears and I would advise any landlord to use a Credit Union to collect rent. My experience over the years has shown me that tenants do not want the hassle of dealing with housing benefit. Although they understand that they need to apply for housing benefit, they prefer if the landlord or an agent, who can assist them with doing this on their behalf, as this has been the case for as long as l can remember.“
Richard Jones, Director of IPS Estates in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, is also a landlord of over the last 20 years, he has been managing tenants through the benefits system with DSS, housing benefit and local housing allowance, as both a landlord and letting agent. Richard Jones comments: “I believe Universal Credit is a good thing for landlords.
Our vast experience in this market leads us to believe that it will give landlords more control over referencing an applicant; provide faster turnaround of applicants; end ‘top- up’ payments from the tenant on top of the rent and all the hassles of having to collect it; payment will be per calendar monthly instead of four weekly and therefore is in line with the Tenancy Agreement, so is easier to for the landlord and tenant to track rental payments; and finally, landlords can be paid directly – if they know how under Universal Credit!
“We are the only private lettings business to have undergone ‘verification framework training’ with two of our local councils, to ensure we get it right. In short, applicants of ours do not need to visit the benefits department to make a new claim, or advise them of a change of circumstances. Instead, they can come to our office, where we collate the information for the claim, verify it is genuine, put the council stamp on it and forward it to our benefits section, via e-mail to the council for fast-track processing of the claim.”
Dssmove.co.uk is a property portal, open to both landlords & letting agents and is free of charge. Dssmove.co.uk works with over 500 landlord and lettings agents nationwide and has over 5,000 properties on its site. The site also has over 60,000 visitors a month.
Dssmove.co.uk founder Aki Ellahi is a very experienced landlord and letting agent who has worked with LHA tenants for many years. He also owns Wolverhampton-based letting agency, Rent Me Now.
For further information call 01902 773949 or visit www.Dssmove.co.uk
Dssmove.co.uk founder Aki Ellahi is a very experienced landlord and letting agent who has worked with tenants in affordable housing for over 30 years. He also owns Wolverhampton-based letting agency, Rent Me Now – http://www.facebook.com/rentmenow
Dssmove.co.uk is totally free for tenants to use to search for properties to rent. A dedicated version of the portal can be accessed from anywhere via a smartphone – www.m.dssmove.co.uk. This allows tenants who don’t have fixed internet access to use the service from their mobile phone.
Significant research undertaken while developing Dssmove.co.uk shows mobile phone searches are becoming increasingly popular for people on housing benefit looking for properties.
Dssmove.co.uk will help people who will be adversely affected by the recent Welfare Reform Act. Those forced to move property because of the impending so-called ‘bedroom tax’ now have an alternative way of finding a new home. Conversely, letting agents who welcome those on housing benefit can now promote their properties to prospective tenants from anywhere in the UK.