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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

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How to... work in partnership with the private rented sector to tackle homelessness

02/11/2012


How to... work in partnership with the private rented sector to tackle homelessness

Description

In recent years, homelessness has become an increasingly challenging problem and this has coincided with increased pressure on local authority housing budgets and continued constricted housing supply. A tougher economic climate and welfare reform is also likely to present further challenges.

This 'how to' guide looks at how local authorities can develop relationships with the private rented sector to tackle homelessness and to support tenants to sustain their tenancies in the private rented sector.


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  • The briefing covers a lot of very useful ground... I would make the following points. 1. Local authority provision of info for both tenants and private landlords online falls far short of where it should be. Our own LettingFocus showed just how bad things are - and our findings were reported here: 1st November 2012 ?Landlord Law? http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2012/11/01/where-has-all-the-government-information-gone/ and here... 22nd October 2012 ?Guardian? http://www.guardian.co.uk/housing-network/2012/oct/23/london-councils-fail-private-tenants-landlords?newsfeed=true 2. I'm not sure about Newham's approach yet - whether it will work to close down rogue landlords or whether it will be cost effective. However, it's certainly very unpopular with landords. 3. Mention should be made of the wrong headedness of restricting HMOs via Article 4 at the same time as changes to LHA have made more Under 35s seek shared (HMO) type housing. Utter madness. 4. The whole LHA system is not fit for purpose - too cumbersome, too clunky, too many payments starting and stopping without warning and too time consuming for private landlords. Only guaranteed rent via lease schemes have any hope of working in places where landlords have a wide choice of tenants, like London. Rent Deposit Schemes etc to help direct lets to those on benefits is "finger in the dike" stuff in London and other more affluent cities. 5. Accreditation schemes are nice to haves but the fact is that private landlords are simply not interested in signing on, unless they get some really strong benefit for doing so. The low take up of accreditation schemes is testament to this. 6. You should mention fact that many mortgage lenders will (under the terms of their mortgages) not allow private landlords to let to tenants on benefits. An absolute outrage which CIH should pick up on more and which we will covering in another forthcoming article for the Guardian. On a related point, we were astounded that the London Assembly in its report "Bleak Houses" mentioned the need for private landlords to issue longer term tenancies but failed to mention that many mortgage lenders' Ts&Cs do not allow private landlords to issue them. 7. Lack of understanding of the PRS at exec level in the local auths at housing associations and other public bodies is, however, the biggest factor of all in explaining the current problems that exist. Let's be realistic here, few middle and senior managers in housing departments and in the housing assocations have any real in depth experience of the PRS gained from working in the PRS. Until that changes, we worry about the future. David Lawrenson www.LettingFocus.com

    Lawrenson, David
 

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