A controversial story recently broke about locals in Newham in receipt of housing benefits. Newham council was looking at sending families in receipt of DSS to other parts of the country as there were not enough landlords who were willing to accept such tenants. The controversial move should never have been necessary. The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is set at the 30th percentile of local rents, which means that, in theory, three out of ten properties should be available to DSS tenants. In practice, many of the homes which should be readily available are owned by landlords who are unwilling to accept LHA dependent applicants, due to mortgage stipulations or social snobbery. However, if you’re in receipt of housing benefits, all is not lost…
Ask Local Authorities for a List of Landlords who Accept DSS
Most council housing offices will have a list of letting agents and housing associations that you can grab. It’s much easier to ring around and see what’s on offer when some kind soul has already printed them out for you.
Look on Letting Websites for Landlords Accepting DSS
All of the properties featured on our site say ‘yes’ to DSS, but if we don’t have the perfect property for you, there are other options available. Have a look at online property sites and see what’s on offer. Lots of property advertisers will stipulate whether or not the landlord is willing to accept DSS. It’s likely that there will be something suitable available in your area. You might also be able to find private landlords who accept DSS in your local paper or free-ads.
If an Advertisement Doesn’t Mention DSS, Ask a Landlord if They Would Consider It
Properties which do not stipulate either way may be willing to accept DSS tenants. If you see a property you like, give them a call and ask. You never know, they may be alright, especially if the property has been unoccupied for a while.
Ring around Letting Agents for a List
If you try ringing around letting agents, they may have some landlords on their books that are willing to accept housing benefit recipients, meaning that they can point you in the right direction. Lots don’t, so be willing to do a fair bit of ringing.
If there’s nothing available immediately, try telephoning each agent in your town two to three times a week to see if one of their benefit-friendly landlords has had a suitable property become available. Benefit properties are so scarce that they get let very quickly, so calling once a week won’t be enough, as they may have come and gone in between your phone calls.
Leave Your Information with a Letting Agent
Agencies with landlords that accept housing benefit can be one of your best aids in finding a property, so visit all of the ones in the area you want to live and explain your situation, pointing out all of your positives, and ask them to contact you when something comes up.
Although some available homes clearly state no housing benefit, some letting agents and landlords will be willing to reconsider if you make the right impression. When you see them in person, clearly outline the housing benefit application process, giving them direct phone numbers to the council office that processes your claim, and outline what you can pay upfront and see whether they would be willing to accept a guarantor (more on that later). If you dress nicely and make the right impression then the agency is more likely to see you as an individual rather than just a claimant.
Place a Wanted Ad
Try putting a wanted ad on Gumtree or a similar site, along with any local forums, specifying what sort of property you want and where. List all of the positive things about you – whether you work, if you’ve ever paid a mortgage, whether you have a guarantor. Also mention attributes such as cleanliness, tidiness, responsibility, house proudness, and a love of gardening. If you have pets and children, mention these. Avoid specifying a price you are willing to pay, as this can attract landlords who are simply out to get as much money as they can and will charge you more than their property is worth.
Make Yourself Seem Like a Safe Choice
One of the best ways to improve your chances is to reduce the perceived risk surrounding you. A reference from your current/previous landlord attesting to your regular rent payments and care of the property will help. What will help even more is if you can provide creditworthy homeowners who will legally guarantee that you will pay your rent and meet all of your obligations. If you can afford to, take out rental insurance so that your landlord is reassured that he/she will never lose out on payments. If you can borrow money, offer to pay six months’ rent in advance, or a larger than normal deposit. Some councils also give benefit recipients the choice to pay their housing benefit directly to landlords. This can be a compelling arrangement for those who fear losing money by accepting DSS tenants.