This winter will be a perfect storm for homelessness in the UK, as rising rents, energy and food prices, combined with the end of several government support initiatives, including the universal credit uplift and the furlough scheme.

For households already in arrears from Covid-19, and Citizens Advice believe that half a million more renters have gone into arrears since the first lockdown in 2020, the next few months and years could be when the true impact of the pandemic is finally felt.

Even before Covid, however, the UK was already facing a significant homelessness problem.

The government, in collaboration with local council and not-for-profit organisations, rallied during the pandemic to provide temporary emergency relief for frontline homelessness.

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The Big Issue believes it is significantly cheaper to prevent homelessness proactively than to let it spiral, yet while the weight of responsibility still largely falls on the public sector to do so, it is the UK private sector that is now largely responsible for social housing.

In fact, privately-run housing associations have provided the majority of social homes since they outstripped local councils for the first time in 2008.

And private landlords, while benefitting from Right to Buy policies which saw socially rented properties move into private hands, have also increased their share over the years, largely due to the ongoing undersupply and underfunding of social rental housing.

Doubled in size

Since the high of 2003, homeownership in the UK has fallen from 71% to 64%, and the private rental market has doubled in size in that time, with this type of housing being particularly common in cities, for lower-income households and young adults.

It is why there must be more collaboration between the public and the private sector if we are going to tackle the upcoming homelessness crisis, whether that be homelessness via domestic violence, rough sleeping, substance misuse or no-fault evictions.

For several reasons, housing supply in the UK is incredibly unresponsive to demand: construction faces an affordability issue, while demand for social housing always outstrips supply as prices are kept significantly below the market level. It is therefore up to us to focus on how existing stock can be better utilised.

The majority of social homes in the UK are now provided by private, non-profit organizations that offer low-cost housing for those in need of a home, but private landlords and investors can still play a larger role.

Guaranteed rent

If you’re a landlord, using your property for social housing means you still benefit from a guaranteed rental income at market value from housing providers, paid each and every month, even if the property is empty.

It also comes without all the normal stresses involved with renting a property, and a fully managed service that includes regular property inspections at no extra cost.

Providing low-cost transitional housing in this way can provide additional income to landlords with long-lease agreement of up to five years.

It also gives landlords the opportunity to become part of the solution, and to make a positive social impact with their properties.

Homelessness takes many forms and the people companies like Lotus Sanctuary often help are not often who you’d expect to be homeless.

Domestic abuse

For example, 61% of homeless females in the UK are victims of domestic abuse or violence and Parliament believes this problem, while typically difficult to measure, rose exponentially in lockdown with evidence that cases are escalating in seriousness and complexity, with Dame Vera Baird referring to it as the “epidemic within the pandemic.”

Safe accommodation is needed for these victims but is not always able to be provided by local council, especially if you consider this means being housed in the same area as your perpetrator.

This is just one example of where private landlords can step in, move quickly, and be able to assist people who need urgent accommodation. With more access to housing the private and public sectors can work together to the benefit of each other, as well as those who need it.


About the author

Gurpaal Judge is the founder and CEO of Lotus Sanctuary, a community-interest company on a mission to house and empower vulnerable people facing homelessness.

4 COMMENTS

  1. My experience of giving a property to a charity to house a vulnerable person was not a good one – although rent was paid on time the damage done to the property was significant. Unfortunately I believe mine is not an isolated experience so whilst there are fewer properties in the PRS and increasing numbers of tenants and rising rents this remains an unattractive proposition.

    I hear what you say Nigel, but for the average small portfolio private LL this is not a risk we are prepared to take and it will continue fall to large organisations, HAs & Councils to provide social housing.

  2. I don’t have a problem in renting in providing homes for social housing. However, if someone has a mental issue then how can I help. I am not trained, nor do I feel comfortable with carrying repairs, whilst someone may suddenly turn violent. The councils will not share medical information.

    Renting to someone on low income is n’t an issue, but renting to someone who has other problems, then it is outside my expertise.

    I have given the property to the council over the years and it has n’t been a good experience with the properties returned in poor condition and then told it is ‘wear and tear’.

    The same council who are desperate for landlord to give properties for temporary accommodation, will introduce licensing scheme and smear local landlords. You can’t have it both ways.

    Yes, council housing as been sold off. However, this is not the fault of landlord. It was a council tenant who benefit from the windfall. High Rise block, when sold by owner are undesirable. Often first time buyer struggle to buy, as they can’t get mortgages.

  3. I’m a businessman, I invest in the PRS. I’m not a social worker, that’s the job of govt/councils. The housing crisis will simply continue to get worse whilst investors are seeing significant increases in costs related to regulations and higher risks with non-payment of rents.

    in a couple of years when the EPC regulations start to bite there will be significant shortages of available properties for rent in the PRS simply adding to the impending crisis. The situation is totally govt created and only the govt will be able to fix it.

    Unless there is a decent risk to reward in any avenue of investment then investors will walk away, the pendulum (Like the wrecking ball) has swung way too far already.

    There is no joined up thinking in govt or councils, charities etc the PRS is on a helter skelter ride at the moment and will inevitably end with a huge bump when it reached the bottom.

  4. This blogger is your typical woke lefty who understands nothing about the industry they are involved in.

    The idiot suggests that LL have benefited from RTB……WTF……how!!!??

    LL have only bought property including RTB on the open market.

    Any property that is sold will ordinarily benefit the new owner in a wide variety of ways.

    LL purchasing will obviously use the residential business model.

    For a successful LL purchase there has to be a willing seller.

    It is ENTIRELY the fault of a RTB occupant for putting the property up for sale on the open market.

    Don’t blame the buyers blame the sellers of RTB property.

    RTB if retained should prevent sale for 25 years.

    That would stop RTB properties being put on the open market and would so disincentivise the RTB market that many wouldn’t bother with RTB.

    Due to eviction problems fee LL will let to the proverbial DSS tenants.

    Make eviction for rent default a 45 day process then magically LL would be prepared to let to DSS tenants.

    I have an empty luxury flat since September.

    No way will I take on DSS tenants.

    My rent is MORE THAN DOUBLE THE LHA RATE.

    No way will I accept half of the market rent for my luxury flat.

    Plus my lender will NOT allow me to take on DSS tenants.

    LL are NOT social housing providers.
    They exist to make PROFIT which is NOT a prime directive for social housing.

    Private Housing Providers should not be relied to provide affordable social housing.

    That is what Council Housing is for.

    The answer is to build more social housing or buy them on the open market.

    There is a shortage of about 4 million council houses.

    2 million of them have bern lost to RTB.

    Councils should be Govt funded to buy back any home on the open market to be social housing with NO RTB facility.

    Why should taxpayers fund feckless council tenants billions to buy a social rental home!!??

    The PRS because of the continual Govt attacks on LL will not be suitable.

    It will shrink in size and capacity.

    There are hundreds of thousands of LL that would be only too happy to sell their properties to Councils at FULL MARKET VALUE.
    Govt could subtract any CGT payable to give a effective cheaper purchase price for Councils

    Especially those 680000 letting properties that don’t currently comply with EPC C status.

    There is NO way that the PRS will wish to aspire to house those that would have previously occupied a Council house.

    LL due to all the problems caused by Govt are moving to quality tenants.

    That means no DSS tenants.

    The PRS is not the answer for social housing tenants.

    Few LL wish to let to these types not because of the type but because of of the dysfunctional eviction process and other dysfunctional protocols.

    This blogger hasn’t got a clue what she is talking about.!

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