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Property Search Tips?

OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
Just wondered if anyone could offer any 'outside the box' advice on private rental property searching?

I've been looking for months but not finding anything suitable.  I think I've only found 2 places that were around 80% suitable in the last 3 months.  I do have fairly strict criteria that can't be compromised on and only a small distance range but have a reasonable budget since winning PIP.

I'm checking the big 3 comparison websites every day, as well as getting daily email updates from them so shouldn't be missing anything on there.

I'm getting very desperate to move now but not sure what else I can do except keep waiting and checking the same sites over and over.  Any ideas?

Thanks!
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Replies

  • leeCalleeCal Member Posts: 2,711 Disability Gamechanger
    edited September 2020
    I suppose if you know of a particular building or property you’d like to rent then you might find out who the landlord is and petition him directly. Ie ask if they would let you know when a flat or property becomes available as you’d be keen to rent in that locale. Perhaps find out through a landlords association?
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 22,214 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    I know exactly how difficult it is to find a landlord that will accept those claiming DSS, they are very few and far between. When i moved last October, it took me over a year to find a house. I had my tick boxes of what i wanted and certain locations and wouldn't go outside that location for anything.

    I used this website http://www.dssmove.co.uk/ which also covers other websites too, the house i'm living in on was found on here.

    I also looked on gumtree, there were some for the area i wanted but never anything i would have been prepared to live in. Also if you do look on gumtree you have to be very careful of the scammers and need to know what to look out for. It maybe worth a look.

    Pleaces like, onthemarket and rightmove very rarely have any landlords that accept DSS, if you do find something then you're extremely luckly.

    Good luck with the search.

    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,079 Pioneering
    edited September 2020
    I don't really have anything to add to the fantastic advice you've been given above @OverlyAnxious  :) Maybe just to consider asking around any friends and family members. I was looking for a privately rented property recently and there were many cases of knowing someone who knew someone who was either moving out of a suitable property or knew of a landlord or housing agency to contact.

    Best of luck with the move.
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  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks all.  :)

    I haven't seen that site before @poppy123456 so will have a look on there now!
  • janer1967janer1967 Community champion Posts: 6,326 Disability Gamechanger
    Hope you find something suitable soon
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    **Update 22/10/20**

    Nearly 2 months on and still haven't found anything.  Have been refused another 2 properties due to DSS this week...one of which didn't even have pictures and was taken within the same day!  So it's easy to see the landlords don't need the extra hassle and risk of people like us.  Prices are also rising considerably, what would have been £700pcm back in August is now £750 or £775pcm.  

    There hasn't been anything at all less than 20 miles away on the DSSMove site in the last 2 months.  Even 20 miles away, it's just 2 small studio flats which aren't suitable even if they were closer.

    I've just seen one property pop up that's not available until January and I'm getting really worried about this now.  Living here is worsening a lot of my issues, but I'm also worried about finances of not being able to move quickly.  If I can't move before before Jan 1st I'll be forced onto UC and lose some income right?  I'm also worried that the backpay I have will cause problems for the switch to UC and the housing element/CTR with a new council (fairly sure I'll be moving to a different council area).  And if I can't move until February then I'll have less than a year of PIP left so prospective landlords would rightly suggest I may not have the income to cover the full 12 month tenancy on a more suitable place.

    I had this all planned in my head...move to a new place by the end of 2020 and remain on the same ESA/SDP/HB/PIP that I am now.  Buy furniture/appliances with some of the backpay.  Buy a more suitable car with whatever was left, before May when the 12 months grace period is up.  But now I'm wondering if I should buy a more suitable car now instead to get the backpay down before having to move to UC and change councils...but then I don't really know how much I need to keep back for furniture and appliances until I've found a place, and also wanted to keep the option of a 6 month deposit in case that would help me secure a place.

    Am I worrying about this unnecessarily?  Have a I got the wrong end of the stick about changing councils and changing to UC etc?  What would you do in my position?
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 2,303 Disability Gamechanger
    Managed migration to UC (that is the 2 million people still on legacy benefits) won't start until 21st January 2021 (that's the most recent date) and it may well take until 2024 to migrate everybody, the last trial in Harrogate threw up some redlines that even the DWP don't seem to want to cross, add to that the fact that 3.4 million new UC claims have been made since April and non of us know what will happen.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 22,214 Disability Gamechanger
    @OverlyAnxious The UC/SDP regulations come to an end on January 17th 2021. So if you move after this date and you move to a different local council then you won't be able to claim housing benefit, it will be UC that you have to claim for help with the rent. If you stay with the same local council you won't have to claim UC and you can continue to claim to existing benefits.

    Your ESA award will be honoured in UC and you'll be placed into the relevant group so if you're in the Support Group then you'll be given LCWRA. Yes, it's less money because you won't be able to claim the SDP. Don't forget also that the standard allowance for UC is about £90 per month more until April 2021 and UC LCWRA pays more than ESA Support Group (without the SDP added of course) so for a few months you won't be that much worse off.

    PIP won't be affected because it's not part of UC. Your backdated money was from your PIP award, is that correct? If so then the year disregarded will end in May, regardless of whether you claim UC or not. Moving to UC will not being that date forward.

    If you did have to claim UC then in May any savings you have that's more than £6,000 will reduce your UC by £4.35 per month for every £250 (or part there of) over that amount.

    What you do with your back dated money in the meantime is your decision.

    Regarding the house hunt, it's definitely not easy out there for anyone claiming benefits, very sad really that we are treated this way by landlords. All i can advise is to keep looking and hopefully you'll find something that's right for you before the SDP/UC changes take place.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    edited October 2020
    Thanks @poppy123456 A lot to take in there!  

    The 17th seems an odd date to end the SDP regs but it does at least give me a couple more weeks than I thought.

    If I did move after the 17th and into a different council, how quickly do things have to change?  Would I immediately lose the HB & ESA?  Would I have to apply for UC or is it just automatic that I'd placed onto LCWRA without a new application or assessment?  Would I have to wait the 6 weeks for the UC payments to start?

    The backdated money was triggered by the PIP award, but some of it was from housing benefit (moved from shared to one bed rate) and some was from SDP as well.  They all arrived on different dates which is a bit confusing but can obviously be proved by bank statements.  The worry is, I'm not sure if the new council will disregard the backpay for the council tax reduction?  And if that's the case, do the council have any input on the housing element of UC?  I'm assuming that only the DWP based benefits disregard the backpay and that's why I don't want to leave it in the account if it'll cause problems for the move.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 22,214 Disability Gamechanger
    Your housing benefit for your current place will stop once you move out because you will need to report those changes. You won't be automatically moved across to UC and you will need to apply yourself, online.

    There's new rules that your ESA will continue to be paid for 2 weeks once you apply for UC (with no affect on your UC payments) the first payment of UC is 5 weeks from when you submit a claim. 4 weeks after claiming you have a statement on your journal which will give you a full break down of all the elements that you're entitled to.

    Your Support Group award will be honoured in UC although they don't always do this straight away and they may potentially ask for a fit note but if you do send one it may prompt another work capability assessment, so you need to make them aware that you already have limited capability for work.

    I can't help with the council tax reduction because all local councils have their own criteria for this and you will need to contact them in the area you will be moving to, to ask.

    The housing element of UC has very simialar rules to housing benefit. Your PIP award will still entitle you to the 1 bedroom rate of LHA in the same way as housing benefit does and this will continue for as long as you have the daily living award of PIP.

    See the LHA rates here. https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/


    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    Well, I thought I'd finally had a glimmer of hope here!  Had to compromise on the area it was in, but found a property that met about 90% of my criteria, was close enough for me to physically get to and was available before January.  Lettings agent said they'd check with the landlord if they'd accept benefits...but never got back to me.  Checked again and they were 'on to it'.  I had been to see it from the outside and was already planning the style of furniture to buy based on the pictures on the ad...  Just looked again this morning and see it's been let agreed with no word from the agent...  Seems like they were just stalling until they found a non-benefits applicant, don't know why they couldn't just say they wouldn't allow benefits tenants so I didn't get my hopes up though.  :(

    Have also had one place suggesting they'd be happy to allow a benefits tenant...as long as I had a guarantor that was earning £30k a year!  Not to speculate but I'd guess the majority of benefits tenants won't know anyone earning that sort of money.

    I'm also getting a bit fed up with the old pictures that agents use on their ads.  One place even listed as a new build with pictures from when it was new...but it turns out they were old pictures.  They wouldn't get away with that anywhere else...if you place an ad on Autotrader saying 'brand new car' with pictures of it all factory fresh, buyers would rightly be upset if they turned up to find a dirty, used car that's been battered and bruised ferrying kids and dogs about for the last few years.

    I've placed a post on social media asking if anyone local knows of anything - but haven't had a single reply.  Trouble is, I've lost touch with any local people due to my health issues so don't really 'know' anyone local nowadays.

    I know I've just got to keep looking, and that moaning about it won't make somewhere magically appear but it's getting more difficult to retain the optimism.  :|
  • 66Mustang66Mustang Member Posts: 3,835 Disability Gamechanger
    @OverlyAnxious I don’t have anything to add other than to say I’m sorry to hear about your still continuing struggles :(

    My guess is the estate agent is a bit like some car salesmen and just wanted an easy life. As a benefits tenant maybe you create more work than a “normal” tenant so he wanted rid of you. Not the best attitude but it happens :/

    I hope you manage to find a property soon 
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,780 Disability Gamechanger
    Are there any local community Facebook groups for where you live @OverlyAnxious? Could it be worth posting in there? 
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  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    Are there any local community Facebook groups for where you live @OverlyAnxious? Could it be worth posting in there? 
    There might be but I'm not on any.  Got fed up with all the moaners on a previous community group (ironic, eh!).  

    I wouldn't know which are trustworthy for here and I'm not really comfortable with making 'public' posts under my name.  
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,780 Disability Gamechanger
    That's fair enough @OverlyAnxious, it was just a thought as I know people who've managed to find spare rooms and flats on social media. It is a risk though.

    As you said, you've just got to keep looking at hope something pops up. If I find any resources I'll send them your way!
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  • 66Mustang66Mustang Member Posts: 3,835 Disability Gamechanger
    @OverlyAnxious

    Apparently if you have an income that’s not seen as secure you can sometimes get a property by providing a larger deposit, up to 12 months. You could maybe offer to do this if you have the resources? I know you got a decent back pay.

    Doing this would also come in useful as it would reduce your savings for the purpose of your income related benefits then if you ever lost your benefits again you could move to a cheaper property and release some of the deposit money.
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks @66Mustang

    It is something I've considered but there are a few downsides to doing it.  

    The main one is that it would take up all of my backpay to do 12 months on the sort of property I'm looking for, meaning that I couldn't buy any furniture.  I'd have to wait several weeks just to buy a bed for example.  Plus I couldn't ever upgrade the car to a more suitable one as I'd never have a big enough lump sum in savings, only reason I've got a big lump currently is due to the backpay grace period. 

    It also means I'd end up with excess income that's not being used on rent (after the first few months when I'd bought furniture) which would push me over the £6k threshold by the end of the 12 months.  I'd have to start 'wasting' it on cheaper items that I don't really need, rather than one large, useful item like a car.  I could get 12 months use out of a car if that was bought with the backpay, at the same time as paying monthly rent on a house with the income flow.  It's not so much about the amount of money, it's about the money management and flow.

    Plus, if something went wrong and I lost the ESA and had to move after say 6 months, I couldn't get the excess deposit back to use as a deposit on a new place.  You only get the deposit back after moving.  Again, you end up with the same money, but are not able to use it as and when you need it.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above...this has all been bouncing around in my head for so long that I may have confused myself lol.

    I'm not ruling it out, but would rather not do it if I can help it.  The plan I mentioned earlier in the thread to pay monthly rent and then buy furniture with backpay and change car with whatever backpay is left seems like a safer option to me.  If I got in trouble after 6 months and needed the money, I could sell the car within days to get the money back from that, unlike a 12m deposit.

    The alternative to a large deposit would be a guarantor.  I can get a guarantor but it depends on how much they have to earn.  I've only been offered the use of a guarantor on one property so far but the guarantor didn't earn enough to even pass the references, let alone actually be considered for the property when there are other non-benefits tenants applying for the same place.
  • 66Mustang66Mustang Member Posts: 3,835 Disability Gamechanger
    Ah that makes sense.

    I never realised it was so hard to get a property when on housing benefit. I was always told that HB claimants are quite attractive tenants as the landlord is pretty much guaranteed an income directly from the government!

    I am not looking forward to looking for a property when it is time for me to leave home!
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    66Mustang said:
    Ah that makes sense.

    I never realised it was so hard to get a property when on housing benefit. I was always told that HB claimants are quite attractive tenants as the landlord is pretty much guaranteed an income directly from the government!

    I am not looking forward to looking for a property when it is time for me to leave home!
    It is a very common misconception...  Along with the fact people often think we just wander into the council offices and leave 10 minutes later with the keys to a brand new council house...  :D  I have quite a few 'friends' on social media that resent anyone on benefits and often have a giggle at the 'facts' they post!  Needless to say, they don't know I'm on benefits lol.

    The Landlord no longer gets the HB directly which has been a massive knockback for them and us.  It's paid to the claimant now which is a terrible idea for many claimants!  Not everyone can manage money effectively, someone with addiction or bipolar can spend a whole months rent in a day for example.  Plus with all income being paid 4 weekly through UC now, that makes matters even worse than when everyone was on ESA with 2 weekly payments.  

    I think the worst thing by far is the media portrayal of benefits tenants though.  We've all seen the programmes with tenants smoking weed, getting drunk and punching holes in walls next to a 60" TV with every optional Sky channel available...complaining that they haven't got any money for the gas meter to warm up a dented tin of value beans from the food bank.  Sadly we're all tarred with the same brush.  There are loads of working people that can't manage money or priorities either...but the word 'benefits' immediately puts that image into the head of a landlord or agent.  

    The final problem is the lack of housing...there's just not enough of it, several applicants are going for each place now and obviously, the one with the secure job will always be more attractive than a benefits claimant.  This is what's been the biggest shock to me trying to move this time.  When I moved 5 years ago my place had been on the market for weeks, I was the first applicant and was immediately accepted.  Other places in my block are only on the website a day or two before being snapped up now! 
  • 66Mustang66Mustang Member Posts: 3,835 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2020
    I agree I see lots of working people just as unable to manage their money as those on benefits. I am not saying it’s the correct view but I guess the public forgives working people because, someone who earns a pay cheque and ****es it up the wall is totally entitled to do that but if someone on benefits is living off taxpayer money the public want to see it spent sensibly?
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Community champion Posts: 22,214 Disability Gamechanger
    If a landlord is having issues with receiving the rent money from a tenant claiming benefits, the LL can request the benefit be paid straight to them and this includes housing benefit and the housing element of UC.

    I've never ever been behind with my rent in over 15 years of privately renting but my current LL and my previous one both requested my HB be paid straight to them, so it can be done even if you're not in any arrears.

    UC is paid monthly, not 4 weekly, which is paid in arrears and this is what puts most landlords off. Although housing benefit was/is also paid in arrears.

    @OverlyAnxious how about paying 6 months upfront, rather than 12? You would obviously still be able to claim for help with the rent, which would be paid as normal. Although i can totally understand why you're reluctant to do this. I don't know if it would even help you find a suitable property.

    It's definitely not easy trying to find a LL that accepts us, makes me so mad!
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,040 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2020
    Thanks for the clarification, Poppy.  Yeah, 6 months would be a more acceptable deposit so I could then buy furniture etc and again is something I'm considering.  I think that would still require a guarantor as well though, to ensure their rent security for at least 12 months tenancy.

    I'm well aware that part of my difficulty this time is having a very tight area radius and specific criteria.  I can find plenty of flats (although whether they'd be more inclined to accept benefits I don't know) but really need somewhere with it's own non-communal entrance and some private outdoor space which is generally going to mean a house. 
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