Canterbury is the latest council to consider setting up its own letting agency.
The authority hopes to tempt private landlords with promises of guaranteed rent and returning the property in its original condition when the owner wishes. It claims 30 landlords have so far expressed an interest in joining the scheme.
Kent News reports that the council agreed to form the new agency to avoid a repeat of the problem where it had only 480 vacant properties last year, with more than 2,800 people on the waiting list - a situation worsened when 147 private homes to let were snapped up by the council in the London borough of Redbridge.
“We are already looking at the possibility of building our own council houses but that is going to take time, so the idea of accessing some of our district’s privately rented homes was put forward” Kent News was told be Conservative councillor Neil Baker, chairman of the community committee.
The council says the agency will operate like a conventional high street service but will set rents at agreed levels with charges to tenants varying according to their means.
Landlords will be offered “competitive management packages” if they sign up.
Council-run letting agencies have a poor reputation: Letting Agent Today has covered several stories about Haringey’s version, called Move51⁰ North, which began trading a year ago.
A BBC investigation claimed a series of staff members were hired, at least one with a guaranteed bonus for the first year; however, when Letting Agent Today checked on it last evening, the agency’s site carried only three properties - and they were all Let Agreed.