Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

by Nick Thompson

12:00 PM, 14th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

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Project to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits

Shelter Press Release:

Thousands of vulnerable private renters across Greater Manchester were boosted today as the £600,000 test and learn fund for Fair Housing Futures was announced.

The partnership project, hosted by the housing charity Shelter and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, aims to transform the way the private rented sector works for vulnerable* and low-income tenants across the region. Radical new schemes powered by the fund will help people overcome barriers to finding and keeping a private rented home.

Last year, the scheme called for bids from local organisations to improve private renting, and proposals flooded in. Five successful bids have now been announced, plus innovative plans for two new umbrella projects covering local authorities and landlords.

Shelter’s Roli Barker, project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said: “Every day our Shelter front-line services hear from people in life-changing trouble, as a total lack of social housing pushes more and more people into unstable private rentals. Private rented homes can be hard to secure and impossible to afford. The insecurity and threat of eviction can be hugely disruptive for people, especially families with children or vulnerable people.

“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity to create a network of local projects that gets right to the heart of the issues that can hurt vulnerable private renters every day. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.

The Fair Housing Futures project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a “broken” private rented system.

This research** has helped the project to allocate funding to organisations in Greater Manchester for the next two years, as they work to test and develop successful ideas that could be rolled out further, both locally and nationally.

In addition to the five main projects, Fair Housing Futures is also exploring how they can support landlords with a collaborative approach to the ideas they submitted.

And part of the funding will create an umbrella network for local authorities, as ideas are explored city-wide in a bid for the systemic impact the project demands.

Bridget Young, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, said: “Fair Housing Futures is a collaborative project, using a local partnership approach to giving funding and support to projects that have ideas to improve life for renters. At the Nationwide Foundation, we have a long-term commitment to making sure everyone has a decent home that they can afford, and we’re thrilled that a part of this work is an attempt to transform the private rented sector in Greater Manchester.

“We look forward to learning from the test and learn fund projects and working with Fair Housing Futures to change things for the better in Greater Manchester and then share that learning further afield.”

Andrew Beeput, Chief Officer at The Bond Board, explained: “The aim of our project is to reduce the reluctance to rent to tenants on benefits that some landlords still have, so that more people can access housing in a system that works better for tenants, letting agents and landlords.

“Housing benefit changes have left many private landlords feeling isolated and confused, often becoming more reluctant to rent to low-income families, who continue to struggle in desperate housing need.

“The role of our new Navigators will help support and train landlords and letting agents to develop their skills and knowledge, so we can increase opportunity for both landlords and tenants.

“And our targeted outreach work will help more tenants on low incomes to find and keep a home and to build better relationships with their landlords. Through the Nationwide Foundation funding we believe we can bring together all the players in the private rented sector, to leave a legacy of a better, fairer system.”

* The project’s working definition of vulnerability is based on the 2018 report Vulnerability amongst Low-Income Households in the Private Rented Sector in England, David Rhodes and Julie Rugg (University of York), which defined those vulnerable in the PRS as households at greater risk of harm for reasons that include, and in some instances combine, economic status and income, age, health and household demographic characteristics. The report considers households to be vulnerable in the PRS if they fall into one of the six vulnerable categories (people with dependent children, long-term illness or disability, the older aged, those in receipt of means-tested and non-means-tested benefits, and recent migrants) and experience at least one of the three measurable harms: not meeting the bedroom standard (i.e. overcrowding), property standards (the quality of properties and the lack of options for lower income households) and After Housing Costs (AHC) poverty (the biggest problem for vulnerable households).

** A comprehensive and evidenced independent review of the issues in Greater Manchester’s private rented sector available here, from the Fair Housing Futures website.


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Comments

Robert Mellors

20:47 PM, 14th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Lots of hot air and meaningless words such as "create an umbrella organisation", - I mean what exactly is that supposed to mean and how on earth is that going to encourage private landlords to let to "vulnerable" (i.e. high risk) tenants?

paul smith

10:51 AM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Looking at the funded projects, among other things :-

This project from The Bond Board, a homeless charity

"The PRS Navigators service provides regular outreach at various letting agency/offices in key boroughs of North Greater Manchester. Agents can refer or invite clients currently housed with them who are in rent arrears, on low-incomes, or who need assistance applying for welfare assistance. This aims to help tenants facing homelessness to address any debts and stabilise their tenancies.

We also work with Local Authorities to address any complaints made to council services about poor management standards, such as illegal notices, harassment or other management practices which a tenant may feel inappropriate. We provide 'soft touch' enforcement, addressing concerns with the owner or agent through the outreach work, highlighting better management practices and how to avoid complaints."

(Again, little about tenant obligations. Although to be fair to them, the charity does provide written bond guarantees, instead of a deposit, to help homeless get into the PRS, as well as furniture and white goods, and assists in setting up utilities and council tax. )

and this one from Wigan council

"This project takes a targeted approach in Leigh, an area within the Wigan Borough where there are particular concerns regarding the private rented sector. By introducing a Tenants' Champion into the community, we're encouraging real communication and engagement to facilitate a strong, supportive network of renters, landlords, and agents who work together to resolve issues by sharing best practice and outcomes.
The Tenants' Champion's work includes helping increase private renters’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and acting as their ‘voice’ and advocate in engaging with the landlord when issues are identified. The Champion also works with landlords to ensure that properties are being managed ethically and there are no failures in meeting obligations, taking a firm stance through targeted enforcement action when faced with non-compliance."

(Again it seems all the obligations are on the landlord. What does "managed ethically" actually mean??)"

Old Mrs Landlord

11:24 AM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by paul smith at 15/02/2020 - 10:30
The somewhat menacing tone of parts of the passages you have quoted does not seem calculated to encourage landlords to take on tenants who it is admitted have rent arrears or whose income is too low for them to meet their obligations or whose behaviour has otherwise been such as to cause previous landlords to evict them. Where is the Landlords' Champion ensuring "there are no failures in meeting obligations, taking a firm stance through targeted enforcement action when faced with non-compliance" on the part of the tenant? "Managed ethically" can probably mean whatever they want it to mean - there is certainly no legal definition of the term.

Allan Thornton

12:44 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 14/02/2020 - 16:58
Could not agree more, but stating things on the level does not tally with Shelter and like organisations agendas. Their agenda is never openly stated. Only their objectives and they never state either their agenda or objectives for landlords. Above all the last consideration seems to be landlords. In Scotland we are never done hearing about irresponsible or rogue landlords being horrible about tenants. Never see a thing about the average small landlord left crying in the ruins of her or his once pristine property.
The legal system seems to be squarely on the side of tenants causing maximum damage to the properties entrusted to their care. Ask me how I know. Actually don't - I have not got all day. I have reached the conclusion that it is time for the exit strategy to be brought forward. In retrospect I am only 12 or 14 years too late

Chris @ Possession Friend

12:47 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by PJB at 14/02/2020 - 16:25
Why would they RNLA start now ?

terry sullivan

13:00 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 15/02/2020 - 12:47
i left nla as they did not work for us

PJB

13:42 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 15/02/2020 - 12:47"Why would they RNLA start now?"
If you read through all the comments, everyone is saying much the same thing - Shelter have their own mostly political agenda, they are not short of a bob or two, they claim to be charitable, they do not provide any financial to tenants who genuinely needs help and so on.
What is really hurting honest landlords is that Shelter has a superb publicity machine (and has the revenue to fund it).
Honest, fair minded and hard working landlords need to be heard as a single powerful voice that will be seriously listened to by the public at large and the government of the day.
The RLA and NLA say they about to combine forces and resources for the benefit of the PRS. Well, here is the perfect opportunity - challenge the so far unchallenged 'spoutings' and misinformation given out by Shelter and at JJ's suggestion to publicly "challenge Shelter and the Nationwide Foundation to use the assets they have accumulated to guarantee tenants' rent and pay for damage caused by the tenant".
"Why would they RNLA start now?" Answer: to show us landlords, the public and the government that it is a credible force to be reckoned with!

Gary Nock

18:26 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

Ah Shelter. The "charity" run by a privileged left wing marxist few for the benefits many. An offshoot of Momentum. Always on the same page and on landlords backs. Well reap what you sow. Less properties to rent and those that are will not be available to UC and Housing Benefit tenants. I do feel sorry for the genuine cases who cannot find somewhere to live and all I will say is that Theresa Mays government using ex Shelter execs as advisors shows how insiduous they have become.

terry sullivan

18:51 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

most of shelters money comes from public sector--i cannot comprehend its charitable status

michelle green

20:41 PM, 15th February 2020
About 9 months ago

What a joke! The worst offenders for shabby treatment of tenants are the Housing Associations.

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