Southwark "Self Help Private Renting Scheme" - any experience?

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    Southwark "Self Help Private Renting Scheme" - any experience?

    Hi,

    I'm an agent letting a property in South London. I have had a potential tenant have a look and like the place but they will need support from the local authority to afford the rent. I liked the person and think that they will probably make a decent tenant but am having great difficulty in finding out more about the LA scheme.

    The potential tenant's contact at the LA has repeatedly eMailed me a very badly constructed document which is self-contradictory and raises more questions than it answers. People at the LA seem to be unwilling to answer questions. I have (yesterday) been given the contact details of a 'manager' which sounds promising but it seems that she doesn't answer her telephone.

    It's a long shot but has anyone any experience of this scheme which they would be happy to share? I am not worried about taking in people on income support as I have had very good experiences with them in the past but never one with support from Southwark. It's probably worth adding that my only concern about the tenant is this scheme - had they appeared as a 'regular' tenant with the ability to pay their own rent then I would have happily taken them on. However I am not yet comfortable enough with the scheme to recommend to the landlord of the flat that it's a good idea in this case.

    All advice or comment welcome - thanks.

    #2
    It'll be another scheme to get no-hopers into private lets. I don't think your client will thank you for involving them in this.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by zcacogp View Post
      Hi,

      I'm an agent letting a property in South London. I have had a potential tenant have a look and like the place but they will need support from the local authority to afford the rent. ......
      Assuming you mean tenant will need HB/LHA then until he's moved in & applied for HB, no decision will be made: And usually not for several weeks: And can be withdrawn/suspended at pretty much any time. Or did you mean some other sort of "support", please? Have you had HB/LHA tenants before?


      I've tried to find
      Self Help Private Renting Scheme
      - but can't: Can you kindly provide a link to this "scheme", please?
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the answers - they are appreciated.

        JK0 - yes, possibly. Although I didn't consider the potential tenant to be a 'No-Hoper'; they spoke well and write well and in my opinion would potentially make a decent tenant. My concerns about the situation are to do with the 'scheme' from Southwark, not the potential tenant.

        ArtfulLodger, thanks. I don't know much about the various 'schemes' to fund lodging for those on benefits but this one claims to make a Local Housing Allowance payment to the landlord every four weeks to top up the tenant's rent. The precise details of the arrangement between the landlord and council are one of the things that I am very keen to know more about as the literature they have is woolly on this point (to say the least).

        Interestingly, I've just had a poke around on Google and can find nothing about the scheme either; the only details I have are those from a PDF document which they have eMailed me. (The document itself looks like scan of a second or third generation photocopy and is abysmally badly written. To call it a dog's breakfast is an understatement and doesn't help my confidence in the scheme.) Is there any way I can post it up here? Mind you, I'm not sure how much use it would be if I did, but you are welcome to have a look at it if you wish.

        Things aren't helped by the fact that there don't seem to be any other tenants on the horizon.

        Thanks for your help.

        Comment


          #5
          Sounds like a scam to me, tread carefully.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by zcacogp View Post
            ....ArtfulLodger, thanks. I don't know much about the various 'schemes' to fund lodging for those on benefits but this one claims to make a Local Housing Allowance payment to the landlord every four weeks to top up the tenant's rent. The precise details of the arrangement between the landlord and council are one of the things that I am very keen to know more about as the literature they have is woolly on this point (to say the least).....
            That's Housing Benefit/LHA:

            For MAXIMUM rates see
            http://www.2.southwark.gov.uk/info/1...s_in_southwark
            Local housing allowance rates from 1 April 2015

            Weekly Monthly
            1 Bed Shared £95.18 £412.45
            1 Bed Self Contained £204.08 £884.35
            2 Bed Self Contained £265.29 £1,149.59
            3 Bed Self Contained £330.72 £1,433.12
            4 Bed Self Contained £417.02 £1,807.09

            If he's on his own & under 34 he'll only get up to the shared-rate, if he;s on his own & 35 or over he'll get up to 1-bed rate.

            Note there are about a million working people who get HB/LHA. Depending on their income from work etc the HB/LHA amount is reduced.


            HB/LHA is normally paid to tenant: If there are problems perhaps then paid to landlord direct.

            With respect, sounds like you need a bit of education.

            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

            Comment


              #7
              ArtfulLodger,

              Yes, I very much DO need an education hence this thread!

              The potential tenant is a girl, aged below 34 (I'm pretty sure) and with a young child. She says that she will get the 2-bed self-contained rate but that hasn't been confirmed by Southwark and this is one of the (many) points that I'd like clarified before jumping in. Another question is that the literature (/dogs dinner) provided states that the rent cannot be more than the amount offered by the council and that 'no shortfall of rent is allowed under this scheme', although the rent being asked is more than £1149/month and the tenant will be able to make up the shortfall from her maternity pay (she is on mat. leave). Again, this is a point that I have asked the council about both on the telephone and in writing and answers have not been forthcoming.

              I have had tenants on benefits before; again, a young single girl with a small child. In her case the benefit was paid straight to her and she paid it on to me as agent. The whole arrangement went very well until she started a university course and her benefits situation changed and she moved out. She was an excellent tenant and that experience has encouraged me to think that this one may be a success too, although I'm now starting to have reservations.

              Moy, I don't think it's a scam but I do think it's a typical local government scheme; well intentioned but badly implemented and tragically inefficiently run. (The irony is that in a former life I provided consultation to several local authorities on improving efficiencies!) I don't think this one is necessarily bad but do want to make very sure that I know what my client is getting into before recommending this way forward. Your advice to tread carefully is apt, thanks.

              Thanks again for your help.

              Comment


                #8
                These schemes are usually deposit/bond schemes to help someone rent privately.

                One usual condition of these schemes is that the rent charged has a limit and cannot be more than the LHA rate.
                (Whether housing benefit/UC housing element is being claimed or not).

                So you can't ask the tenant to top-up above the LHA rate.

                I can't find one for Southwark, but here's the one for Greenwich:
                http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/inf...hactrac_scheme


                Seems to me that you would be better off just not taking a deposit, and having nothing to do with the council.
                You could then charge the rent you want.
                The tenant could still claim LHA, and 'top-up' to the rent amount.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Nuke,

                  Thanks. That's an interesting approach and I like your thinking. I'd be quite nervous about proceeding without a deposit though.

                  The documentation for the scheme does (supposedly) prohibit renting something for more than the LHA, but they have told me that it will be possible in this case. However there is nothing in writing to this effect and I won't proceed until it IS in writing. They also have yet to confirm the amount of LHA they will pay, and their documentation specifies that the property HAS to be furnished, which is isn't.

                  In short, the questions about the scheme remain unanswered and I am losing confidence in it rapidly. If they can't answer some questions before signing up then I don't rate my chances of getting any money out of them.

                  Thanks for your input. It's appreciated.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by zcacogp View Post
                    They also have yet to confirm the amount of LHA they will pay,
                    Use the link below to find out what the LHA rates are for Southwark

                    https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx

                    Comment


                      #11
                      What makes you think a counci deposit/bond would pay for damages anyway?

                      It's a council, they will try everything not to pay you anything.
                      And they already have lawyers on their books.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Fair point, and one of the (many) questions concerns who is contractually involved with whom, and how. If the AST is between the tenant and the landlord then I'm not sure how much say the council will have over the deposit and claims made from it.

                        The good news is that I think I now have a contact number for someone at the council who may be able to answer sensible questions, which could be the breakthrough I want. (Of course, the answers may be such that I decline to proceed but that's a different matter).

                        Thanks again for your help.

                        Comment

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