LHA Top Tips for landlords. Article 2 in a series of 8
Inform yourself. If you don’t know all the rules about being a landlord for Local Housing Allowance tenants, at the very least be sure you know where to look when you need information fast.
- Well, you’re reading these LHA Top Tips so you’re off to a great start!
- The book most councils deal with and which is updated every year around June is ‘The Guide to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.’ It can be purchased through Amazon.
- The most important legislations are the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 and The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 and further information can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk
- Understand the LHA rates in your area. Visit www.direct.gov.uk and search “LHA rates”. The tools they provide help to determine not only how many bedrooms your tenant is eligible for but also what rates are paid for a specific postcode. LHA rates are reviewed annually and can go up or down. Be aware of these changes as they will affect cash flow.
- A great source for updates and changes to benefit structures is www.dwp.gov.uk
- Your local authority – know who the contacts are. Some councils will offer information and advice through their websites or Landlord Packs to support PRS landlords letting to LHA tenants. Build a relationship with the people who will be over-seeing the funding for your tenant.
- Your mortgage broker or lender. Some lenders will say they do not provide finance for LHA tenanted properties but this is rarely the case.
- Your insurers- Taking on LHA tenants will affect your insurance premiums due to the perceived increased risks. You must inform your insurers to ensure that your policies remain valid in the event of a claim.
- Letting Agents. If you are using a letting agent, it is important to speak to them about their knowledge and systems. You need to know that the person you are entrusting with probably the most expensive asset you own knows what they are talking about. You must make sure they have sufficient knowledge and experience in dealing with LHA tenants and councils.
- Ask for references from current landlords and tenants.
- Ask to see their systems for managing late payments or changes in tenant circumstances.
- Ask what their systems are for checks on property condition and handling repairs.
- You. It would be foolish to pretend that dealing with the issues faced by some LHA tenants is straightforward. Many will be managing difficult family circumstances, financial insecurity, debt and unemployment. You must be patient and a good communicator. Before you begin, decide to what extent you are prepared to offer support and define where your boundaries are and then be prepared to stick to them.