The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has commissioned an online housing portal that it says will allow people claiming Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to work out new entitlements and find properties, following changes to the scheme.
The site, called letshelpyou.co.uk and developed in conjunction with Kirklees, Wakefield, Calderdale, Bradford and Leeds City Councils, will be piloted in West Yorkshire and if successful will be followed by a national roll out later next year.
The changes, which include caps on LHA rates to ensure that people on benefit are not living in accommodation that would be out of the reach of most people in work
, will affect tenants who need to find a new home due to LHA shortfalls or landlords who need to re-evaluate their rental incomes.
“This new website seeks to alleviate many of these problems by matching tenants to landlords based on available properties, and the new LHA levels, which can vary geographically,” said Looking Local, the developer commissioned to build the website.
Letshelpyou.co.uk will be free for both tenants and landlords to use. It will include a LHA calculator that allows tenants to work out their housing allowance based on their circumstances and where they want to live.
The site provides landlords with a tool to ensure their rental thresholds are met. Landlords will also benefit from a range of other property management tools to help run their businesses more efficiently, according to Looking Local.
"I've been a landlord for 20 years, and I have some tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit. The current letting system needs an overhaul to speed things up for both tenants and landlords,” said Pamela Cunningham, a Leeds landlord.
“The new website is an answer to this as it will allow prospective tenants to match properties with their housing allowance allocation straight away, and landlords can fill property vacancies quickly.
"I shall certainly be using it when it becomes available."