Arrears top landlords' concerns about taking benefit tenants

Six in ten landlords and agents are concerned about receiving rent if they accept housing benefit tenants.
A new survey of 500 landlords and agents by website Dssmove found that rent apart, most landlords and agents (75%) were happy to let to Local Housing Allowance tenants.

Over half believed they are no more troublesome than private tenants, but 61% cite rent arrears as a major concern.

Just 33% are concerned about fraud and criminal activity with LHA tenants, and nearly 40% believe LHA tenants care for their property as much as private tenants.

Aki Ellahi, founder of the website, said: “Attitudes to LHA tenants are changing. More and more landlords and agents can see the commercial benefits of letting to LHA tenants.
“I have been a landlord for over ten years and all my properties are occupied by LHA tenants and I have experienced very few problems over the years. I have currently 500 tenants on benefits and achieve a rent collection record of 100%.

“I would not be able to achieve this level of success without the use of Credit Unions. Using such organisations to collect housing benefit and pay this across to the landlord or agent is very convenient. 
“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 it if the landlord or agent can assist them with doing this on their behalf, and this has been the case for as long as l remember.” 

He said agents and landlords can use the following tips to ensure that they do receive rent from housing benefit tenants:
1. Always use a credit union or similar organisations which can facilitate sending housing benefit to you on behalf of the tenant.
2. Where possible, hand-deliver housing benefit claim forms to the local council’s benefit department to prevent delays.
3. Ensure tenants have the correct proof of benefits before creating a tenancy. 
4. Keep on file copies of the benefit letters the tenant shows you before they move in. These are so important as you need proof of the tenant’s National Insurance number which is unique to the tenant.
5. Chase your local council weekly for the progress of all housing benefit, eg new claims and outstanding queries.
6. Procure and end tenancies on housing benefit payment dates to prevent the tenant owing you rent when they leave.