Bridging the gap between private landlords and homelessness services

Monday, 6 October 2014 - 10:00am

With last month’s statutory homelessness figures highlighting terminated private tenancies as an increasing cause of homelessness, Lisa Raftery stresses the need for ongoing projects designed to prevent this from happening.

Photograph: Christian Schnettelker

Government figures published last week show that for the first time, private landlords terminating contracts is the main reason for homelessness. This accounts for 30% of all cases and has more than doubled since the same quarter in 2010.

The private rented sector is increasingly the sector both of choice and necessity for housing people who move on from homelessness. In fact 78% of projects funded through the Homelessness Transition Fund house clients in private tenancies.

But last month’s statutory homelessness figures highlight the often insecure nature of the private rented sector. In the absence of available social housing, providers are looking to private landlords for accommodation. More needs to be done to make relationships work between landlords, homelessness services and tenants.

Reaching out to private landlords

The Homelessness Transition Fund has backed a number of projects doing fantastic work with private sector landlords with great results.  One method is simple yet effective, with four key components:

  1. A dedicated private rented sector or landlord liaison worker
  2. A matching process where people are matched with landlords to increase the likelihood of a successful tenancy
  3. Ongoing support to help people maintain their tenancy
  4. Ongoing relationship with the landlord addressing any issues that may arise post move on, providing reassurance that both the tenant and landlord are supported by the provider.

The St Mungo’s Broadway Bristol Project is a good example of this. They have a dedicated private rented sector worker who has not only increased their portfolio of private landlords, but also continues to build their reputation in the area for providing ongoing support and liaison between client and landlord.

Other approaches are working too, with some agencies following a social enterprise model of acting as agents for landlords.

Future funding

However, the three year Homelessness Transition Fund ends this year, and there are few alternative funding sources currently available to continue to build local bridges between the homelessness and private rented sectors.

There’s a real need for national and local government, and other potential funders, to do more to fill gaps in support for vulnerably housed people in the private rented sector - and to support landlords to feel confident in housing them.

Talk To Us

Lisa Raftery

Lisa Raftery

Grants Manager

Lisa is managing the Ending Women’s Homelessness and Housing First grant programmes. 

Telephone: 020 7840 4416