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Shock as agency backs Fees Ban - and gives its profits to the homeless

An estate agency that describes itself as a ‘social enterprise’ says it will spend its profits on the homeless and related projects, as suggested by a voluntary board.

Urban Patchwork, a London estate agency run by a brother and sister, Toby and Tessa Gooding, is based near Surrey Quays and deals in sales and lettings.

It set up just over a year ago with a pledge to use profits to support housing projects for the homeless, and has now appointed a voluntary board to take its initiative a stage further. 


The agency says the board will advise on working practices and policies for the agency, and will have voting rights on how profits are spent on homeless housing and support projects.

The board will be chaired by Iga Dabrowa, a residential asset manager who has worked in the sector for over 10 years at Berkeley Homes and Fizzy Living amongst others.

Since it opened the agency set itself apart from almost all other players in the industry by supporting the Tenants Fees Ban, which comes into effect on June 1, and by making sympathetic overtures to the news that Section 21 evictions are to be outlawed by government.

Urban Patchwork is a certified 'business for good' and member of the Social Enterprise UK body - a trade group for socially-minded companies and organisations - as well as being in the usual industry bodies such as TPO, NAEA and TDS. 

“The addition of a voluntary board to our governance structure highlights our commitment to best practice, and the range of expertise will give us further support to achieve our social aims” says Urban Patchwork director Tessa Gooding.

Poll: Can ethical agencies like this thrive?


  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Charitable venture are laudable.
    I imagine they must be donating just PROFITS, After, expenses to a charity.
    They will have significant office and staff expenses, and then the question remains ; are they charging Market rates, or above market ?

  • icon
    • D G
    • 15 May 2019 11:24 AM

    Hmmm, define profits please; we could all take a huge salary and leave very little to pass on

  • S l
    • S l
    • 15 May 2019 11:25 AM

    Well, they have only started operating a year ago. Give them time to start letting to HB and what nots and we see how their tune will be in a few years time. Whats the point if putting money into homelessness is into shelter which only do lip service for the homeless and nothing concrete in terms of housing them with what they built or food on the table or get them a job to learn to be responsible for themselves. Most homelessness are caused by themselves with lack of responsibilities. Not all of them but if you take majority case, you will see a pattern.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 15 May 2019 11:40 AM

    Bear in mind, even if landlord takes a high salary, its still subject to income tax as much as rental income. losses either way

  • icon

    Very laudable indeed, sounds the sort of scheme dreamed up in a Student Union bar after one too many spliffs. The model of championing the dodgy tenant over the grasping landlord will work very well indeed as long as the tenant becomes the paying client ... but oops how might that work with a tenant fee ban? And how will they ever get repeat business from a landlord? Oh dear this wonderful model seems a bit flawed after all.
    On the Sales side though, all credit to them to have a USP of giving away profit to the homeless, but I too am cynical re what proportion of the income will be deemed profit . We too support various charities and we too, like most, feel sorry for some of the homeless people so that part is less of a USP

  • icon

    Thanks for all your comments, I'm Tessa, one of the directors at Urban Patchwork. You can view my nuanced views about various developments in the sector on our blog on our website.

    You can also read about how our social commitments are built into our governing framework in part 6 of our articles of association, as some of you seem to be making various assumptions about how we operate.

    This article doesn't quite capture our approach and what we are aiming to achieve.


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