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Written by rosalind renshaw

New rules have come into operation, allowing local councils to discharge their duties to homeless people by offering them homes in the private rental sector, housing minister Mark Prisk has announced.

Previously, homeless households could turn down a private rental home and hold out for a council house instead, forcing councils to continue to house them in expensive, and supposedly short-term, accommodation during what could be a very long wait.

If the offer of a private rental home is now rejected, the council now need do no more to help the homeless applicant.

Prisk said that the changes would make waiting lists fairer and help councils fulfil their legal duty to homelessness people, without the extra expense of long-term temporary accommodation.

But he said the new protections would also ensure that every rented home offered by councils would be good-quality, suitable accommodation.

The safeguards include a valid EPC and current gas safety certificate, together with an acceptable tenancy agreement. The council must also satisfy itself that the landlord is a fit and proper person.

Prisk said: “For too long, councils have been restricted in the way they provided homeless assistance when good quality rented accommodation was available right on their doorstep. Today’s changes will lead to a fairer system.

“The safeguards we’ve put in place will give vulnerable families the reassurance they need whether they’re housed in the private or social rented sector, and with new freedoms and flexibilities, councils can now fulfil their duty and provide a safe and secure roof for the people who need it most.”


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    This is a slightly cost saving choice for the country in general.

    With the rental market booming why should a landlord take a lesser rent or more than likely encounter rental arrears from day one.

    Also the council offers a Deposit Guarantee which is a nightmare to get paid out from & if you don't renew it ever year it means sod all.

    If you also serve the tenants notice, the council advices them to stay put, which involves the landlord with further expense or a loss of business for the letting agent.

    • 14 November 2012 12:35 PM
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    None of this changes our policy one iota. We simply will not take DSS tenants for our managed properties. Only if one of our Find-a-Tenant landlords accept a DSS tenant will we set a tenancy up for him/her then hand over charging our usual finders fee. There are numerous reasons, clawbacks, data protection, intransigence, rent drop outs, I could go on but I am too busy running my business!!

    • 13 November 2012 11:45 AM
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    The local housing allowance is never the same as the market rental so the applicant/tenant never has enough money to pay the top-up leading to immediate arrears.

    The council is fond of putting people forward and guaranteeing back up to the landlord/agent but not following through. It's always someone else's responsibility after the tenant is installed in your house.

    It is impossible to speak to our local Housing Options who help the homeless after you have helped them find accommodation.

    Many times bitten and now very shy!

    • 13 November 2012 10:19 AM
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    The article omitted to mention it has to be a 12 month tenancy term

    • 13 November 2012 10:13 AM
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    Fine. But from the agent & landlord perspective ? I am so far underwhelmed with the thought of offering private rental property to DSS tenants for a couple of reasons:
    1. It is very rare indeed that such an applicant ever has a deposit or bond to put down ... so they have pretty much no personal commitment to keeping the house in order.
    2. Councils usually say they will stand bond for the tenant (doesn't strike me as very worthwhile) but they don't actually pay any cash over, they just say that they will if they have to .... but do they? Anecdotal reports suggest that one usually has to whistle for the bond, they rarely actually pay up.
    3. The 'clawback' ruling where if a DSS beneficiary has committed fraud ... perhaps as simple as getting a pert time job without declaring it ... then the benefit can be clawed back in full for up to 6 years ....FROM WHOEVER ACTUALLY RECEIVED IT ! So if the housing benefit was paid directly to landlord or agent to reduce the risk of non-payment from the tenant, then the debt for fraud is attached to the agent, not the tenant!!!!
    4. It can be hard to get rent protection insurance to cover the full amount of rent where DSS is involved.

    Until the above 4 anomalies are resolved, I won't be encouraging private landlords to rent out to DSS through my agency, much against my moral feelings that they should.

    • 13 November 2012 09:22 AM
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    And then all they have to do is find landlords who will have insurers who will cover the property and this will be difficult as the credit score will fail and thenpresto it's back to the council.

    The councl leaders etc do not have a clue about the private rental sector and its a bit like our deputy PM when asked if he knew anything about running a business he just ignored the question because he has no idea either. And these idiots run this country!

    • 13 November 2012 09:20 AM