Tory Majority Day 65: The London Flat Hunt On Housing Benefit – It’s All Gone Pete Tong

In the future I suspect I’ll look back on today fondly. There was a flat with my name on it, you see.

The Tall Agent – I’ll name which agency has been so marvellous when my flat hunt is over – had worked really hard. He was thoughtful, considerate, nice to talk to on the phone and most importantly, he told me exactly how someone on Housing Benefit can rent somewhere in London.

Ready? Here’s how:

The answer is to have a guarantor and the financial referencing is done with your guarantor only.

The agent tells the landlord that the rent is being paid by the guarantor and if the landlord agrees, the nasty, scrounging, loaded words: “housing benefit” never have to be uttered.

It’s exactly like being a student, except you never say you are a student, Oh, and your parents can’t be the guarantors if, as in my case, they are retired.

Aside from that it’s simple – that’s how you do it

This morning I called the Tall Agent. He told me no-one else had put an offer on the flat over the weekend and I was delighted. I advised him I wanted to put down the deposit and make an offer. I’d made my mind up, you see.

Notice the flat-buying language? That’s because London rental market IS like buying somewhere. It’s filled with offers, counter-offers, gazumping and client profiling. It’s like a frenzied shark attack in deep waters. It’s rough out there and the £900.00 pcm single person’s Housing Benefit cap is a total farce. It doesn’t cover renting a cupboard.

Tall Agent was delighted too. I had to agree to leave my current dodgy flat early, I had to phone the Housing Advice Line at my local council to find out what happens to my Housing Benefit if I do and they answered (another time, not now).

I called Julie, my disability rights worker and got her to explain my contract to me. I got every single bloody duck in line that I could do as he took my offer forward.

And I waited. I waited all day. I rested this afternoon, I waited some more.

The phone rang at about 5:30: “I’ve got some bad news,” said the Tall Agent through gritted teeth,”the owner has leased it to a friend of hers.”

I sort-of knew that was coming. Not that the owner would f*ck both the Tall Agent and myself over, of course, but that it was wa-a-a-a-a-a-y too good to be true.

So that’s that. “Thanks for working so hard on my behalf,” I said,”You will let me know if anything else comes up, won’t you?”

“Yes,” he said, still through gritted teeth, “ones that I can get you into..”

That again. It’s up to the landlords, you see.

Hey ho. Tomorrow I’m back to ringing estate agents who don’t want to take Housing Benefit clients and go through the spiel again, go through the whole palarva.

I’m out of this flat on 28th September – what happens to me then?

© Lindy 2015

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