The Greenwich Private Rented Scheme
By Chris Deacon, Area Manager - Prevention Services
The number of homeless people in London has seen a dramatic increase since 2010. This has placed growing strain on the ability of local authorities to house people.
Back in 2011, the Royal Borough of Greenwich in partnership with homeless charity Thames Reach, wanted to find a solution to this problem. Recognising the vital contribution private landlords play in providing good quality homes, we started to explore a public-private sector partnership to help house people.
How it works
People approach the Royal Borough of Greenwich when in need of housing and have an initial assessment to identify whether they meet the basic eligibility criteria for our scheme. They then meet with us for a more in-depth assessment which we use to decide whether or not to accept them for the scheme. This selection process is rigorous and people are only accepted if we are confident that they will pay their rent and be responsible tenants.
Landlords of HMOs in or close to Royal Greenwich give the scheme exclusive access to their properties. Tenants are given a 12-month tenancy and pay rent at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) shared accommodation rate. Rent and service charge are paid directly to landlords.
It is vitally important to us that tenants pay their rent and look after the properties. To achieve this, Thames Reach employ staff to offer the following support to landlords & tenants:
· Available to contact Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
· Support tenants with keep up with rent payments
· Support tenants receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to fix problems with their benefits immediately
· Support tenants to find work and better-paid jobs
· Address any difficulties with tenants such as anti-social behaviour and tenant disputes
· Work closely with landlords to identify and resolve any difficulties at an early stage.
Landlords who are willing to commit their property to the scheme for a minimum of three years are eligible to apply for a ‘Home Improvement Grant’ from Greenwich Council, worth up to £50,000 per property. Landlords use these to refurbish their HMOs. We support landlords through this process as it involves working with some departments within Greenwich Council.
The scheme has been running successfully since 2012 and private landlords have been instrumental in enabling us to house many homeless people.
The scheme has been a success for our landlords; first, landlords know that they are directly helping house homeless people. Second, landlords have the support of Thames Reach’s staff to address any problems with tenants promptly and effectively. Third, the Home Improvement Grant enables landlords to invest in the long-term quality and value of their properties.
Here is an example of one of our landlords:
This landlord has been part of the scheme since 2014, providing a 5-bedroom property to the scheme, located in a neighbouring borough. They have remained with the scheme because their property is being used for a good cause, it is kept in good condition and rent collection has been high. They have not been immune from issues arising at the property such as disputes between tenants and on one occasion missing rent payments. However, the landlord has seen how Thames Reach’s staff have addressed issues promptly and effectively such as through holding tenant meetings at the property and successfully applying for back-dated Housing Benefit.
Developing the scheme
We are looking to add more properties to the scheme in order to house more homeless people. We would be delighted to speak with landlords who are interested and would like to find out more about the scheme. For an initial conversation please contact the scheme’s manager, Iunus Ahmed, on 07525 803571 or email@example.com.
Q. How long do I have to commit for?
A. Tenants are given 12-month tenancies but you are welcome to stay with the scheme for as long as you want. If you receive a Home Improvement Grant, you need to commit your property for a minimum of three years.
Q. What incentives do you offer?
A. We do not offer an up-front cash incentive. However landlords of properties in the Royal Borough of Greenwich can apply for a Home Improvement Grant, worth up to £50,000 per property. We also offer a bond to reimburse landlords for rental arrears and damage to the property.
Q. Are landlords with properties outside of the Royal Borough of Greenwich eligible to join the scheme?
A. Yes. We currently have some landlords with properties in neighbouring boroughs, but if your property is outside of the Royal Borough of Greenwich it will not be eligible for the Home Improvement Grant.
Q. How long does the application for a Home Improvement Grant take?
A. Typically 6-9 months
Q. Is there an HMO licensing scheme in the Royal Borough of Greenwich?
A. Yes. We would support you through the licensing process.