As the nation continues to clap its NHS and other front line workers, we highlight one landlord who has opened up her rental property to offer people working in Central London hospitals free accommodation.
Julia Dee didn’t think twice when an email landed in her inbox from UnderTheDoormat asking if homeowners wanted to offer their property to NHS staff.
“I didn’t even ask my husband but just said yes immediately,” says Julia, who owns a clothes alteration business in Battersea, central London.
“They found me a tenant within a couple of hours – a consultant anaesthetist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who didn’t want to stay at home because his wife is undergoing chemotherapy.”
Julia usually stays in her one-bed flat in Chelsea for three days a week and for the last year has let it out for the rest of the time when she’s at home in Hampshire.
But she, like many of UnderThe Doormat’s clients, is part of the NHS Homes Initiative; it’s hooked up medical staff with free accommodation so they can stay nearer hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak and currently has 100 properties in the scheme.
“I requested a mortgage holiday from my lender and was furloughed from my business in March,” she explains. “I knew I couldn’t rent the flat out so wanted to help out instead. I’m glad to have taken away some of the strain from someone – after all, he’s saving lives.”
Her anaesthetist tenant moved in at the beginning of April and will stay until early June, when Julia hopes to rent out her flat again, adding: “I’m sure he’ll be very glad to get back home by then!”
The UK Short Term Accommodation Association is coordinating the scheme, arranging for the laundry to be done and deep cleaning it when tenants leave. And while the utility bills are minimal, her tenant agreed to pay them in May. Julia says the initiative has made the whole process really easy. “NHS Homes epitomises the spirit of what this couple of months has been about,” she adds.