A newly launched website dedicated to helping people find affordable housing has seen unprecedented traffic from landlords and people searching for new accommodation.
The letshelpyou.co.uk website offers a free service to both landlords and tenants and is specifically aimed at the affordable end of the housing market and people in receipt of housing benefits, although the site is available for anyone to use.
The site has a built in housing allowance calculator which can tell benefit recipients the numbers of bedrooms they are entitled to according to their circumstances and therefore makes the search a lot more affective. Rents are compared to the maximum housing benefit for that type of dwelling, showing the rent in green if it is equal to, or below, the maximum, and in red if the rent is more than the maximum.
The service has also recently launched on Sky and Virgin TV to allow people without home internet access the same opportunity to search for a property by type and location.
Leeds landlords Linda and Peter Robinson found a new tenant within a week of advertising on the Letshelpyou website. Up to then the property had been unoccupied for three months although it was listed with a lettings agent.
Linda was delighted with the service and said:
“Our new tenant contacted us through Leeds council housing options service, which have been able to assist with the property bond and even direct rental payments. We found the website easy to use and we were thoroughly delighted to sign our new tenant so quickly. We shall certainly use the website from now on when we are looking for tenants.”
Jamie-Lee Lawrence, has recently used the website and has now been re-housed in the Bramley area, said:
“My previous accommodation was unsuitable because of damp and mould problems. I started to bid for properties through the council’s choice-based lettings scheme knowing it can take a while for a successful bid, as well as trawling estate agents and other websites, which all takes up a lot of time. My housing options advisor then showed me this new way to search through the Letshelpyou website and within days I was viewing the property and, with the help of housing options, I signed and moved in within three days. I’m now living near to family and friends and my daughter can have her own bedroom without the threat of repeated bouts of illness due to damp and mouldy conditions”.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“Being able to help people find sustainable and affordable housing is a priority in reducing and preventing homelessness. The Letshelpyou website offers an additional and instant search tool bringing hundreds of properties together across the whole of the West Yorkshire region. Properties are added daily so there is always something new to consider, and customers are finding it easy and convenient to use either at home, the library, or from our public access PCs.”
Notes to editors:
• www.letshelpyou.co.uk is a regional partnership project formed by all five West Yorkshire local authorities through funding from the Department of Work and Pensions to support the implementation of the housing benefit reforms in 2011/12. Essentially the partnership set out to provide a self-service option for those seeking affordable accommodation in the private rental sector, and as an alternative to reliance on the housing options bidding process for social housing and council managed properties. By launching this interactive website, landlords can advertise their property vacancies, and tenants can search and respond independently, without recourse to local authority intervention.
• Launched in February 2012 the website currently lists 748 properties with 541 registered landlords and over 2,000 tenant registrations, Properties are added daily improving tenants search potential and decreasing non-occupancy time for landlords. (Registrations and properties increase daily, please see contact below for up to date figures).
• In addition to the website, and digital TV the Letshelpyou service is being developed for delivery across multiple platforms – mobile web, smartphones and game consoles – ensuring the highest possible take-up amongst users, including those typically regarded as digitally excluded.
• The five West Yorkshire local authorities – Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, and Calderdale – have a joint population of over 2 million and changes to LHA are expected to affect in excess of 40,000 housing benefit recipients in the region.
• To find out more go to www.letshelpyou.co.uk. Or contact firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 0113 815 2249.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450