Capital Letters is a London landlord service that deals with the benefits systems so you don’t have to. Last year our team recovered nearly £1 million owed to landlords
Landlords who let their properties to families on benefits need to become experts in Universal Credit (UC) – or work with people who are. The benefits system is a regular payer once claims are set up correctly, but a change in circumstances can delay payments.
One east London landlord we work with summed up the experience: “Normally, payments start coming when they are due, but sometimes tenants cannot pursue their claims on their own. I asked Capital Letters to intervene so they could pursue a case professionally. Now the arrears are cleared, and I am very thankful for this service.”
Sometimes tenants need help sorting out their claims, and we increasingly advise landlords on the benefits system too. The number of people claiming UC has doubled during the pandemic so some landlords are letting to benefit claimants for the first time.
Capital Letters works with private landlords and two-thirds of the councils in London to find private rented properties so families can move out of temporary accommodation. By working across London, we have access to tenants ready to move into most family properties.
The council checks that families are suitable and can afford the rent, and Capital Letters pays a cash incentive to the landlord of up to £4,000 when the property is let. Unlike a deposit, the landlord keeps the payment.
But the service does not end there. Capital Letters has over 25 tenancy support advisors who help tenants and landlords sort any problems throughout the tenancy. Last year the team secured nearly £1 million in back-dated payments – most of which went straight to the landlord.
As the government funds Capital Letters, we can offer this service free to landlords and tenants. Most tenancies do not need any support, but landlords are reassured the offer is there throughout the tenancy.
One tenancy support advisor recently secured a single payment of £10,000 for a landlord after arrears built up over six months. The landlord called us because the tenant could not deal with the stress of dealing with the claim.
In fact, these long-running cases are unusual. The tenancy support team usually finds a solution before the landlord even knows the tenant needed help. Of the families we found homes for last year, just 2% of those tenancies are at risk from arrears.
With their expert knowledge, our advisors can usually sort out claims so payment can start within weeks of the tenant moving in. By responding quickly, we try to prevent any arrears from building up.
So what are the advantages of working with Capital Letters? We make the process easy by ensuring that Universal Credit applications are set up correctly, which helps to minimise arrears. We can also help with claims for direct rent payments.
Capital Letters was set up to find homes for low-income families in London, which starts with a property. But by offering support throughout the tenancy, we increase the chances of success for everyone and build long-term relationships with satisfied landlords.
Sue Coulson is Chief Executive Officer of Capital Letters.