Here at Dssmove, we’re committed to finding you a property that says “yes” to DSS. We understand that if you’re in receipt of benefits, you can struggle to find a landlord willing to take you on as a tenant. Some think that DSS makes you a higher risk tenant; some have pre-conceived notions of people on benefits; and some simply don’t understand how DSS works. However, we pride ourselves on helping to find you a landlord with no misplaced prejudice towards those in receipt of benefits. We have hundreds of DSS welcome properties available to rent, with more added almost every day.
Here are our five top tips for finding your perfect home.
1. Location is Key
Although there are many factors which will affect your choice of home, your number one consideration should be the location. This is one of the few things that you absolutely cannot change; you can improve the property but you can’t move it. Prowl the neighbourhood on foot to get an idea of what it might be like to live there. Take into account its proximity to local facilities including schools, doctors’ surgeries, supermarkets, bus stops and colleges.
Steel yourself to log onto Police.uk and check out local crime statistics, as high crime rates will impact insurance premiums as well as making the area less than ideal. There are masses of free information online, helping you find out everything from local school league tables to noise levels.
Don’t forget to factor in public transport if you or your family will need to use it for work or school. Consider the frequency of buses and trains, and how much they will cost. Try searching test train routes on the National Rail journey planner. For bus routes and frequency, take a look at your local council’s website - Gov.uk has a handy tool to help you find yours.
2. Make a Good First Impression
Don’t forget that you’re being checked out just as much as the property you want to rent. You need to create the best first impression possible, so make sure that you’re clean, smart, polite and presentable when you meet with the landlord or agent to view the property. Always turn up on time. A landlord is likely to want a tenant who is professional, prompt and well-mannered, so be all of those things. If you go to the viewing with the wrong attitude, the landlord isn’t going to rent to you. They are under no obligation to let their property, which means that the power is in their hands. Show them that the stigma attached to DSS recipients is entirely unfairly and come across as exactly the sort of tenant they will want in their property.
3. Ascertain the Property’s Suitability
Before you sign on the dotted line, ask as many questions as possible so that you know all there is to know about the property you’re viewing. Get any particularly important answers in writing – if they promise to fix that damp patch in the hall, you must be able to hold them to it. You might be looking to rent, but you should still follow the old rule for buyers: ‘caveat emptor’ – buyer beware. Ask about anything which is important to you, from whether pets are allowed to whether you can redecorate. Even if they’re not completely honest, you might notice them squirming when you breach a particular subject and know to steer clear of the property. If the current occupants are present during your viewing, take advantage of the opportunity to ask them the best and worst things about living there, and anything else they think you ought to know.
4. Is the Rent Affordable?
If you’ve seen your dream property but it’s out of your budget, then it’s not the house for you. It might make a nice little stop gap, but there is no life for you there; if you can’t afford it, then you won’t be living there for long. There is no point in buying the house of your dreams if it’s going to turn into a financial nightmare and leave you without a roof over your head or money in your pocket. As a rule of thumb, the rent should amount to no more than 10% of your Local Housing Allowance.
5. Offer to Make Payments Directly Payable to the Landlord
It used to be the case that landlords received rent directly from the council. This made them far more willing to accept DSS tenants as they were considered as posing less of a risk than they are now. The current system pays housing benefit to the tenant, who is then expected to pass it on to the landlord. Some councils, however, will still pay via the old method where requested. It is a good idea to try and arrange this with your council, as this will seem like an extremely attractive arrangement for most prospective landlords, making them much more willing to accept you as a letter.
Here at Dssmove, we have hundreds of DSS welcome properties available to rent, with more added almost every day. To find the perfect property for you and your family, follow our tips. Before you know it you’ll be moving into your new home!