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Council sets up lettings agency - and pays landlords £1,200 to join

A Welsh local authority is offering a cash payment of up to £1,200 to landlords who join a quasi-letting agency run by the council and offering quarterly property inspections and guaranteed rent payments. 

The 'Monmouthshire Lettings Service' so-called Golden Hello payments are funded by the Welsh Government; the agency also vets potential tenants but with priority given to those in maximum need of housing. 

A county councillor told the local press: "It’s a letting agency with a difference where both landlord and tenant are listened to and valued equally with transparency and honesty integral to its working practices. The team will work with landlords to help manage and advertise properties as well as find vetted tenants".

The council has defended the creation of the agency - after criticism that it was giving some private landlords free money - by saying that the initiative would reduce homelessness and public money spent on bed and breakfast accommodation. 

"The role of the private rented sector in providing affordable renting options is crucial for discharging our statutory homeless duties and providing accommodation to those who may struggle to access housing association accommodation or lack the ability to buy" says a council statement.

"We anticipate that the Golden Hello together with further cash incentives for landlords willing to offer longer periods of settled accommodation will increase the number of properties available for households who struggle to find accommodation in their home communities near family, friends and support networks" it concludes.

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    If the council is paying the rent directly to landlords (i.e. the housing benefit that most tenants would be receiving then it is a win-win - with landlords getting guaranteed rent, people having somewhere settled and of a decent standard to live in and councils having to pay less in totla for emergency accommodation

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