A new ‘speed-dating’ platform, that connects tenants who want to let out a room in their property with individuals looking for a room to rent, has been unveiled by Kirklees Council-owned technology developer, Looking Local. The system is designed to remove costly and time-consuming customer contact from local authorities and housing providers, while helping public-sector housing tenants to pay their rent.
RentARoom is the latest addition to Looking Local’s LetsHelpYou multi-channel solution which takes councils out of the equation in finding housing association accommodation for potential tenants. And, thanks to an integrated local housing allowance calculator, it is at a rent they know they can afford.
The push to encourage people looking to rent towards self-service, digital solutions as they search for accommodation they can afford is being pioneered by Looking Local, and LetsHelpYou is designed to help potential tenants explore the available options using devices that are most convenient to them.
With its development part-funded by the Department for Work and Pensions to help smooth the transition to universal credit and the local housing allowance, LetsHelpYou is accessible across a range of devices, including interactive TV (through Sky and Virgin) and smartphone apps, as well as on the web.
The creation of RentARoom was prompted by the Government initiative that promotes tax breaks for property owners and housing association tenants who let out a furnished room or an entire floor of their home.
LetsHelpYou has been used by more than 2,300 landlords and around 35,000 tenants since it was successfully piloted by five local authorities in West Yorkshire in 2012. The pilot indicated that properties stand vacant for shorter periods and, because tenants are steered towards properties they can afford, eviction rates fall.
Guy Giles, programme director, Looking Local, said, “The RentARoom function of our LetsHelpYou platform extends our multi-channel solution to a new group of accommodation providers – people who want to rent out part of their home. By removing intermediaries, it offers a more streamlined service, putting customers directly in contact with providers, saving time and money for hosts, lodgers and housing and advice agencies, such as local authorities.”