Housing benefit tenants looking for private rental properties have soared over recent months, with demand heavily outstripping supply.
Searches on a specialist website, Dssmove, have increased by 400% in three months for properties in London and the home counties, but demand is also up elsewhere.
The site currently lists 4,000 properties suitable for LHA tenants, but has 30,000 searches a month.
The greatest demand for property is in London, where nearly 10,000 prospective tenants in receipt of Local Housing Allowance are searching each month, followed by Manchester with 1,000 and Birmingham with 1,000.
Juelz Miah, of Alex Crown Lettings and Estate Agents, which lists properties on the site, said: “We are seeing increasing volumes of enquiries from LHA tenants looking for private property and we could certainly do with more private landlords in the market to meet the growing demand.”
Aki Ellahi, the website’s founder who is also a letting agent and a private landlord, said: “There is a shortfall of LHA properties and this problem is only going to get worse.
”More private landlords in and around London are desperately needed for LHA tenants. I know that many private landlords are concerned about the reliability of LHA tenants. But if landlords have the right processes and systems in place, then they are no more of a problem than private tenants.
“Private landlords can make it easier to take on LHA tenants by looking to use institutions such as local credit unions. As a landlord, I have been using local credit unions since 2008 and they have provided me with a first-class service and made it easier for me to accept tenants on benefits.
“In addition to this, landlords should always educate themselves on the housing benefit systems; i.e. do councils pay tenants two-weekly, four-weekly or calendar monthly?
“Once landlords know this information, they can structure tenancies to ensure payments go to credit unions correctly for the tenancy period. So if tenants are paid fortnightly, then it’s best to start and end tenancies on this date, so that the correct housing benefit payments go to the credit union.”
According to official statistics, there are over five million people claiming LHA.
Click here for more information