The council has begun a one-year trial project that helps Croydon residents avoid homelessness through tenancy training and matching them with responsible landlords.
For many people with challenges, ranging from debt problems to mental health needs or learning difficulties, falling behind with rent or breaching a tenancy contract is more likely to happen.
Now Croydon Council has set up a pilot social lettings agency, called Croydon Lettings, which widens the use of council referrals into the private rented sector to further reduce the number of people presenting as homeless and being housed in temporary accommodation.
The one-year scheme is targeted at both tenants who have either been homeless or are at risk of being unable to sustain a long-term tenancy and at landlords who want a guaranteed rent.
The agency has launched initially with around 20 tenants and 12 landlords, and works by giving the prospective tenants the skills to maintain a long-term tenancy before they are matched with a private landlord.
The six-week training for prospective tenants, provided by the council’s Gateway welfare service, includes:
• Financial management, including budgeting advice, benefits support and help setting up their rent payments by direct debit
• Tips on how to keep their property in good condition and report issues to the landlord
• Wider employability training to boost their job prospects and earning potential
Croydon Lettings also gives tenants a month’s rent and deposit in advance to reduce moving costs, and it sets up the tenants’ council tax and utility bill accounts.
Landlords benefit by getting a wider pool of vetted tenants, a guaranteed rent, paying no charges to the council unlike with high street lettings agents, a named contact at the council, and a reduced need to take legal action against tenants.
“Debt, mental health problems and learning difficulties can increase some people’s risk of homelessness.
“To prevent this, the council has set up a social lettings agency – not to collect rent or referral fees, but to give both local residents the know-how and support to have longer, happier tenancies, and to give responsible landlords a more secure supply of rental income.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services
Landlord Tracey Collinson signed up to the council agency after her last tenant did not pay rent for six months and she needed a more reliable person to rent her two-bedroom flat in Selhurst. Her new tenant, Sophie Dance, a 23-year-old mother-of-two with special needs, has now settled in after getting the help with her move.
Ms Dance said: “It’s a really nice flat. I would have found it a bit difficult without my mum or the council to help me with the forms.”
Mrs Collinson said: “Croydon Lettings has been amazing from start to finish in terms of customer service, meeting us and making things easy for us. Everything is geared around trying to make it a good working relationship between us, the tenant and the council.”
For more information, email: CroydonLettings@croydon.gov.uk