Can you afford to take these tenants ?
Local people who need housing in North Somerset will find the process becomes easier from next month when changes to the HomeChoice policy come into force.
More than 7,000 households are currently waiting for social housing but many of these have no connection to North Somerset – but from September, those people without a local connection will no longer be allowed to be on the housing list.
- Currently living in North Somerset for the last three years; or
- Having lived in North Somerset for ten consecutive years not more than five years ago; or
- Currently working in North Somerset for 16 hours a week for at least the last 12 months.
People who own property, who owe money to the council or a housing association, or who are guilty of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse or hate incidents will also be taken off the housing list.
With only about 600 properties becoming vacant each year and more than 350 new applicants every month in North Somerset, it is now very likely that those who are searching for accommodation will be unsuccessful in being offered a social housing tenancy unless they are in severe circumstances.
This is great news for those who have a genuine connection to North Somerset, have never owned property, have never owed money to the council or association and have never been guilty of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse or hate incidents.
However, it is a glaringly obvious reason why private renting landlords and letting agents in Somerset need to understand the importance of lifestyle referencing their applicant tenants – because from September there is going to be a mass migration of the many thousands of tenants who will be unable to access social housing and therefore will only have the option of the private rented sector.
A Financial & ID report can tell you whether a tenant is who they say they are and if they have had any adverse credit history – but it cannot tell you how they may conduct themselves both in rental payments and in their lifestyle.
This is where the Lifestyle Reference comes in; where their previous landlord can give a 100% unbiased and informative opinion, as they have one-to-one experience in dealing with the tenant first hand.
With many drug farms recently being busted in North Somerset, a new 5 year scheme ( due to commence in January 2014) designed to cut antisocial behaviour in WSM, as well as a recent Government report calling for convicted landlords to return rents to councils and tenants – could this be one step closer to local authorities refusing direct payment of housing benefit to tenants that have failed to pass it onto their landlord?
At Landlord Referencing Services we talk to many landlords and letting agents each week who are losing out on their rent because of their tenants spending their housing benefit on other things. Surely local authorities have a duty of care to protect public funds in today’s economic climate?
Last year DWP statistics revealed that Housing Benefit claimant error was at the highest it had ever been – and the latest stats reveal that the monetary value of fraud over-payments in the preliminary 2012/13 estimates are the same as those in the 2011/12 and 2010/11 estimates; £1.2bn.
And although the proportion of LRS tenant alerts sent out between July 2012-July 2013 show that 62% of those were tenants were actually in work and not receiving any housing benefit, our community are still experiencing a significant increase in LHA claimants not passing on their rents since the introduction of Universal Credit pilot schemes.
If the council reduces the housing list by 20% by exclusion (some suggest as high as 50%) then that means that with over 7,000 already on the list 1,400 with problems of criminality and debt will go unchecked and remain or move into the PRS.
So the question is: “Landlords & Letting Agents; can you afford to take these tenants?”