NetMovers news: ‘Cynical’ sector practice has potential to increase social deprivation

“The industry as a whole needs to take a more open look at what’s happening in society. It’s very cynical to take the short term view and exclude families in need.”

Rick Jones, NetMovers

Cynical letting agency practices are forcing families into a spiral of deprivation, says a property expert.

Recent changes to housing benefit, the recession and associated job losses and repossessions, plus the decimation of the first time buyer market and threat of rising rents, is forcing some landlords who have previously accepted DSS tenants into refusing to enquiries from these people – making it more difficult for families in need to find somewhere to live.

But of those landlords who continue to cater for DSS recipients, not all offer fair quality homes.

Rick Jones of NetMovers explains: “For example, it’s a common practice for some social landlords* to test tenants by placing them in properties that are in need of maintenance and in bad areas. If they respect the property and pay their rent, they might eventually be offered a nicer, more suitable property in a better area – consider it a form of moving up the rental ladder.

“The trouble is that these types of properties are in locations generally notorious for crime and bad schools; sometimes the lets are unregulated – off the books – so families have nobody to run to if they find themselves at the mercy of a dodgy landlord.

“Add this to the poor state of the property, which could impact on mental and physical health, and you have a desperate situation that can be really hard to escape from.”

His comments come as NetMovers makes moves to partner with housing charities using its Relocation Service.

Mr Jones, who is the development director at the property portal, adds: “Not everyone claiming support from the DSS is a bad tenant. Via our Relocation Service, NetMovers negotiates with social landlords and private landlords alike on behalf of tenants who, through no fault of their own, receive benefits which finds them being turned down for housing from so many, when in reality the only difference is how the rent is paid.

“The industry as a whole needs to take a more open look at what’s happening in society. It’s very cynical to take the short term view and exclude families in need.”

The NetMovers Relocation Service gives tenants subsidised access to credit checks, agent introductions and other associated services, such as managed utility switchovers, for a one off fee of £29.99 for the three month membership.

EDITED TO CLARIFY: Private landlords who take on housing benefit tenants.

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