Looking Local has launched a new affordable property website specifically built to alleviate issues arising from the changes in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) that are underway. As one of the vanguard DWP funded projects focused on LHA, the website www.letshelpyou.co.uk is being piloted across West Yorkshire before a national rollout.
The site allows tenants to search for available and affordable rental properties across authority boundaries, widening choice to tenants throughout the region. Core to the site is a LHA calculator giving both tenants and landlords a clear indication as to whether rents fall within a local authority maximum allowance. Indeed once registered, prospective tenants can determine their expected LHA, then search for properties with the rent clearly colour coded to show whether it falls above or below the maximum.
Letshelpyou is one of the ten collaborative projects that received funding to support the implementation of the housing benefit reforms in 2011/12. The DWP announced the Housing Benefit Reforms Transitional Funding for 2012/13 last week and said, "It is the Government's intention that these funds are used to provide targeted support to help to meet the housing needs of claimants affected by HB reforms," and that is exactly what Letshelpyou does.
Landlords across West Yorkshire can advertise properties for free, uploading images and giving descriptions, with the ability to instantly activate and deactivate the listings according to whether they are occupied or not. The website matches tenants and landlords together and hopes to simplify and speed up the housing process reducing intervention and encouraging self-service.
Julian Hobson, Customer and Exchequer Service at Kirklees Council, welcomed the website launch saying:
"I briefed my staff teams 10 days ago and they were all very excited about the new website as it means Kirklees residents who are looking to move have easier access to private renting as a housing option, giving them more choice. The private rented sector will become increasingly important as the year progresses and the new changes to housing allowance take effect, in particular for one person households aged 25 to 35."
Letshelpyou is complementary to choice based lettings schemes, particularly in areas where social housing need outstrips supply and private rental properties are the only alternative option. A business case is currently being prepared which will detail the savings that can be made and the opportunities that Letshelpyou can offer local authorities, tenants and landlords around LHA transition. Kirklees Council is planning to offer this as a service to local authorities across the UK in the new financial year.