What can be done to encourage landlords to help tackle the housing crisis?
Councils need to up their game: They need to offer a more professional service that competes with the high street so landlords aren't just expected to come to councils if they have a social conscience.
The key sell is the guaranteed rent: As the rent from tenants is paid directly to us, we take any risk. But we have also found offering three free repairs under the value of £150 has been really attractive.
Deposits: The cost of providing a deposit as opposed to funding temporary accommodation is the biggest reason why we are able to justify providing a deposit, where required. However it is financially preferable to invite the landlord to join our scheme and therefore we can make a longer term agreement, have some higher expectations on the property standard and receive a management fee.
Net spend: We will probably never fully get back the start up costs but it is far cheaper than the 80 households we are currently managing being in temporary accommodation. We have landlords coming to us who are disillusioned with high street agents who swap tenants every six months just to garner the fees which come with a tenancy change, therefore incurring void costs to the landlord. Our partner landlords really value the longer term commitment we can offer.
Compulsory licencing: Good landlords don't need it and bad landlords dont want it – and bypass it. And we then don't have enough resources to chase them up.
Dean Velani is the parliamentary officer at the National Landlords Association
Bad experiences: The most often cited issue for reluctance to let out to LHA tenants is the landlords' bad experience with local authorities (payment problems and burdensome administration). The current reforms have created great uncertainty within the landlord community with much misinformation floating about.
Three quick ideas: 1) financial incentives for investors (big or small) to increase supply of stock; 2) direct payments to landlords; 3) councils prosecuting criminal operators in the private rented sector (PRS) and not creating more bureaucracy for good landlords.
Jameel Malik is head of housing and property services at Warwick district council
Media coverage of benefit changes is London-centric: But other areas are not immune. All involved in this field must stop criticizing the welfare reform programme, as it's too late, and begin to consider implementing systems that can minimise risk and maximise opportunity.
Most local authorities are providing rent deposit schemes: However the trick needs to be making them more readily and easily available.
Nikki Cottrell is manager of Real Lettings, a not-for-profit lettings agency set up in 2005 by London homelessness charity Broadway
We need to make sure that our landlords are looked after: That they're not just left to pick up the pieces if things go wrong with the tenant. A point that comes up time and time again when we take work with landlords who have previously let through a council or a housing association is that they feel that once they have the property the landlord is no longer important.
The benefit caps are a real issue for families: Especially so in London. We are now having to reconsider our position on leasing three- and four-bedroom properties because its just not stacking up for tenants and we do not want to set people up for a fall.
Insurance problems: We have had many complaints from landlords that there is either an unwillingness to provide a policy, or that the premiums they would have to pay are much higher, for housing benefit tenants. And this is even when there is a third party, like ourselves, indemnifying the landlord against loss of rent or tenant damages.
We don't provide our landlords with deposits: We instead indemnify our landlord against tenant damages and dilapidations. This way the landlord knows that there is a binding agreement for us to return the property in the condition it was handed over.
Aki Ellahi is a private landlord and a lettings agent operating in the West Midlands and founder of dssmove.co.uk, a property website for tenants on housing benefit
We urge the government to allow landlords to receive housing benefit direct: This would make it so much easier to find private housing for tenants in respect of benefits. If landlords could have security on rental income through direct payment, then without doubt the current estimate figure of 40% of landlords who would rent to tenants on benefit will increase
Mortgage company attitudes to tenants is very disappointing: We have track record going back to 1973 in renting to a large number of tenants in receipt of housing benefit and have found the business model to be recession-proof, however banks and mortgage companies fail to recognise how strong our rental income stream is. They're quite happy to discriminate and assume all tenants on housing benefit are a high risk.
David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com is author of the UK's highest selling book on property, Successful Property Letting
Calling the government's bluff: London boroughs in particular are simply carrying on, knowing full well that central government will simply have to come and help when the numbers of homeless on the streets becomes socially intolerable. This may involve central government cash and/or changing the proposed universal credit rules, or whatever it takes.
Guaranteed rent lease schemes are attractive to some landlords: But many of the schemes are very poorly marketed, reflecting a lack of understanding of how to reach private landlords.
Do councils lack an understanding of the PRS? The lack of local authorities willing to share mortgage lenders' risks (to allow landlords to let to housing benefit recipients) reflects a lack of understanding of the market at middle and senior management level at town halls. It is this that must change.
Competition for landlords: It is ludicrous and wasteful to have different authorities/housing associations competing for the same landlords. Though some private landlords are, of course, more than happy to play one provider off against another for the best deal. They are business people, after all.