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Meet the agent: Branch

Article Posted - 30th October 2019

Did you know that there is an accessible housing crisis in London? Unfortunately, not enough homes are being adapted by landlords and developers are not building nowhere near enough accessible homes.

There are 1.2m wheelchair users in the UK according to the NHS only, but the UK PRS is struggling to provide wheelchair accessible homes. Only 1% of homes are set to be built outside of London by 2030 are planned to be accessible for a wheelchair user and we don't yet know the figure for in London. Can you see the problem here?

We're trying to make a difference by being ‘The accessibility specialists' and here at Branch Properties we specialise in finding, sourcing and providing accessible properties specifically aimed at meeting the accommodation needs of disabled people. Regular agencies are often not experienced or knowledgeable at meeting a tenant's brief if they have accessibility needs, which leads to much frustration, missed opportunities and wasted time.

We rarely have any accessible properties available. This is due to the fact that those marketed are taken very quickly and rented out for long period of time and we are always looking for landlords who will rent out their ground floor flats to us, so we can adapt if needed and market them. 

When we don't have any accessible properties to offer (sadly more often than not…) we then have a service where we are able to search on behalf of those who require our assistance and we work closely to find out their personal requirements and then conduct viewings in advance. Once we are through the front door and we have ensured that everything is level access throughout, the issue is always the bathroom. Usually there is not enough space to swing a cat, let along turn a wheelchair.

What sets our marketing apart from other agents offering properties is that we provide a platform for people with disabilities. This is because we understand that to make a home for people with disabilities, there will need to be changes and adaptions and we are sensitive to these needs.

We do the difficult part of the searches and viewings after having created a schedule of what is necessary for each prospective tenant. We know how to ask the difficult or delicate questions and we are proud to work hard to find individuals the homes they need and deserve. We are committed to raising standards and tackling the discrimination that people with disabilities face when looking for a home, whether that discrimination is active and deliberate or by default.

As Lord Shinkiwn, a disability advocate, says “To give you an idea, a disabled person with un-met housing needs is four times less likely to be working than those in accessible accommodation. There is a real untapped market out there- housing providers and should know that it is something that could really take off” and there are many advantages.  Disabled tenants are less likely to move once they find a property that suits their needs, which cuts down potential void periods.

We would encourage landlords with ground floor properties to contact us so that we can work with them to determine their suitability for a wheelchair user. We can then adapt where necessary and provide more accessible accommodation that is much needed. 

Please do get in touch, it's a win, win situation!

Sallie Stone-Bearne – Director

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