While Syria and the Middle East may have dropped off the news agenda the crisis is still very real to those families fleeing conflict. Essex County Council is today appealing for private landlords or those who may own a second home to consider letting their property to support the Essex response to the Government’s UK wide initiatives that require suitable, self-contained housing to help resettle those who have fled torture, displacement and conflict.
Supported by non-profit organisation Essex Integration, landlords – or potential landlords – will be guided through the process of renting out their properties to families. Essex Integration can act as rent guarantor, secure deposits, advise on health and safety and rental agreements, and facilitate contact with families. Landlords will be paid rent near to the Local Housing Allowance rate which although may be less than market rate the tenancy brings with it security from Essex Integration and a long lease – properties are required for two years minimum to allow families the time to settle and integrate into the community.
Lucy is a private landlord in Colchester who says: “I would completely recommend this scheme most especially because of the involvement of Essex Integration. This scheme is in my view a win-win. I take my landlord duties very seriously and particularly when the people renting are vulnerable but the involvement of Essex integration means the anxiety and emotion of managing a property is taken away. You know you are working in partnership with another professional organisation that cares about the people that you are housing. It feels like a really positive, workable relationship.”
Helen inherited a property and wanted to keep it but do something good with it. She says: “I would absolutely recommend the scheme. It feels very rewarding to have played a small part in helping people who have been through terrible trauma to build a new life in the UK. It’s been good to see the tenants so happy and they are great tenants. If I had another property I’d do it all again.”
As well as practical support Essex Integration can also facilitate introductions with the families, support landlords getting their property to rental standard and carry out bi-monthly checks on the property.
Speaking further about the scheme Lucy says: “I can unreservedly say that thus far the scheme has been great. Whilst I have taken a hit on the rent, I can still cover my costs and take some income so I can philanthropically give but also benefit. It has genuinely been lovely to be involved; it’s been a delight and great to do something good at the same time as having income coming in.”
Councillor David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said: “To be able to offer a home to those who desperately need a safe place to live is an incredible thing to do. The refugee resettlement scheme is an initiative that completely changes the life of a family for the better and a scheme that I know my colleagues in the districts and boroughs will be able to get behind me in supporting and promoting.”
For more information and a no commitment chat contact Essex Integration on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01206 861180.