With Universal Credit and welfare reform top of everyone’s agenda, organisations are looking for solutions to help manage the transition and encourage the hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected towards digital self-serve options. DWP funding helped develop a new website service – www.letshelpyou.co.uk – to enable tenants to help themselves and move to more affordable accommodation in the private rental sector.
The LetsHelpYou service was piloted across the five West Yorkshire local authorities in February 2012 and now has a network of over 20 local authorities, with more in the pipeline. Over 16,000 tenants have registered; there are over 1,700 registered landlords, and to date in excess of 4,000 properties have been uploaded and advertised through the service.
LetsHelpYou specifically deals with affordable private rental properties, other property websites do not focus on this type of accommodation, certainly not to any scale. It’s a multi-channel solution and the only service of this type available through SKY and Virgin Media with a potential reach of over 10.5 million homes on SKY, and 4 million homes on Virgin Media.
Through local authority subscription LetsHelpYou works as a free service for both the tenant and landlord. Tenants use the local housing allowance calculator to work out their LHA then search for colour-coded properties within their allowance. Over 60% of advertised properties have a rent equal to or below the relevant LHA rate.
Landlords have access to free advertising reaching a wider audience and the optional smartphone tools lets them quickly and easily upload property information.
The service received a professional landlord endorsement when it was voted winner of the 2013/14 Public Sector/Not for Profit Award at the recent national Landlord & Letting Awards held at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Independent research carried out in the summer shows that two-thirds of tenants responding to the online questionnaire were in receipt of housing benefit, and 33% of respondents who found accommodation through LetsHelpYou said they would otherwise have been homeless.
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