A council has launched its own social lettings agency to work with private sector landlords in tackling the record numbers living in temporary accommodation.
High interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis are key factors leading to record numbers of families and individuals approaching the council for support, leaving Gravesham council with more than 200 households in expensive temporary accommodation.
GBC Lettings is part of the council’s response to the issue and claims it will work with private sector landlords in Gravesham to find homes for those who need them.
A council spokesperson says: “Temporary accommodation should be just that, a few brief nights’ stay in an emergency before moving on to something more permanent.
“But demand for social housing has soared in recent months as families struggle to make ends meet and has resulted in too many households spending too long in this sort of property.
“And it is expensive. We are looking at a bill of over £1m for temporary accommodation in the current financial year, against a budget originally set for less than half of that. It’s an unsustainable position and one we are having to be innovative and creative at tackling.”
GBC Lettings is looking to sign up private sector landlords who will take households directly from temporary accommodation.
In return, the council is offering what it calls “a fully managed service” including guaranteed rent on the first of each month; support through the process of turning properties around between tenants; a guaranteed tenant within two weeks of a property being ready to let; a minimum of four visits a year from council officers to check on properties; and a designated council officer for support and advice.
The council spokesperson continues: “Essentially, we are looking to make it as easy and straightforward as possible for landlords to provide a more permanent home for some of the families we are currently supporting in temporary accommodation.
“As a landlord, we already have 5,700 social housing properties that we manage and maintain on a daily basis. We are offering to bring that expertise to support our landlords, while guaranteeing them rental income.
“I hope many of our borough’s private landlords see the benefits of working with us for themselves, but most importantly for the well-being of so many local families in need of support.”