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Think-tank calls for 'social letting agencies' staffed by social workers

A think-tank is calling for the creation of ‘social’ letting agencies with staff who not only find housing but also get people off welfare and into work, and who resolve problems such as drink and drug addiction.

The Centre for Social Justice says these new letting agencies would be set up and managed by charities and other voluntary sector agencies. 

The group wants £40m of public cash already earmarked for helping the homeless to be diverted into setting up these agencies. 


The CSJ claims there is a decline in the numbers of private landlords willing to rent their properties to housing benefit claimants - roughly five per cent of the workforce or 1.68m people today. 

The centre says the aim of the scheme is to switch the burden of risk from reluctant private landlords to the new agencies which would guarantee rent payments to the landlords over a five-year period and undertake to turn around the lives of otherwise unwanted tenants. 

The CSJ report notes that private renting is becoming the new norm for low-income families, with their numbers doubling from one million to two million in the last decade. 

But those at the bottom of the pile – the ones regarded as least reliable by the private sector – are being left behind, fuelling a rise in homelessness with the numbers of families in temporary accommodation rising from 48,000 at the end of 2010 to nearly 70,000 today, it claims. 

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    Another new quango which will expand and become a major cost centre in twenty years time!

    It's a great idea of course. I have two worries with social housing clients:

    As said, lack of reliable rent payment.

    Few landlords can let without having rent in return so obviously a rent guarantee is good. Insurance can be bough for this purpose but it comes backed up with the threat of a section 21.

    Damage to property.

    Many people have no idea how to live in a house AND look after it. I have just spent a week clearing up a kitchen where the tenants are too daft to phone the letting agent to say there is a piping leak in the floor. The water had dissolved the bottom of the kitchen units. (The water was running into the foundations behind the kitchen units so no flooding.) It was a toss up whether to ask them to live somewhere else for 2-3 weeks and fit a new kitchen or make repairs. I chose the latter which has worked out very well.

    I would say incompetent tenants are a bigger risk than non rent payers. Incompetent tenants cost damage repair and additional loss of rent which can be exaggerated since the property may become unlettable for a period of time. Also, as in my recent case, there could have been the cost of alternate accommodation. "Yes", I have suitable insurance but I would have had to take policy excesses.

    I am sorry but there are some people who are never going to have that nice house which they believe is, "their right".

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    We had 1 set of Landlords who have tried to be social landlords. They asked for a tenant on benefits and they would pay any admin fees for them and would be on top of any and all repairs etc. This was all done and I was really happy to actually have such socially minded customers. I really wanted it to work out. The tenant has wrecked the place and gone.

    They don't want to be social landlords any more.

    Because this is the real world.

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    Landlords will not risk taking on H.B. Tenants who fall into rent arrears spending their benefit on massive T.V.s , new white goods, and the rest etc ...then a landlord serves notice on the AST at the end of the fixed term, and then Councils actually advise the tenant not to vacate the property but to hold over until a court issues an eviction order.

    Err Councils ...don't complain then when landords avoid renting properties to H.B. applicants...you are not playing by the rules, it is the AST that has allowed the private rented sector to grow and to provide a housing stock for people to rent. Central government / Council / Housing Association building has been virtually nothing over the last decade, government has been happy for the private sector to fill the gap.

    Now the private rented sector has grown, now government wants to control the sector via red tape, and pressure towards the Fair Rent System ...7 year Tenancies...before we know it we will have Regulated/sitting tenants again...back to the future ...no back to the 70's...which will destroy the private rental sector.

    But wait we have on the horrizon , Build to Rent schemes run by financiers, pension funds and fat cat national agencies...I am sure this appraoch will be very cost effective !

    Just get some proper controls in place to help private landlords manage H.B. Tenants and you may find this is the most cost-effective and productive way to increase housing to lower income or disadvantaged sectors of our community.

    Use the money to support private landlords, pay landlord their rent direct, and cover losses due to court hearings / evictions.


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