Landlords will be paid cash deposits by a council in a radical bid to shorten housing waiting lists.
Stafford Borough Council has given its new innovative scheme the go-ahead, using a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and has earmarked £30,000 for the first year, with the aim of helping 30 tenants.
The authority acknowledges that its current deposit guarantee scheme to help prospective tenants on low incomes find homes isn’t attractive to landlords because it doesn’t cover rent arrears.
Landlords are also reluctant to take Universal Credit claimants because of the lack of a direct pay option for the housing benefit element and because clients can end alternative payment arrangements at any time.
Households in Stafford currently face an average wait of seven months for a one-bedroom property on the council’s housing list – and it can cost the authority more than £10,000 to house someone in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation during that time.
About £1,300 is needed up front to start a private tenancy in the town where the average rent is £525 per month.
A cabinet report says: “There are significant barriers for households with complex needs who cannot access social housing and have to wait in unsatisfactory accommodation whilst protracted and sometimes failed negotiations with landlords take place.
“This waiting can have an adverse effect on the client’s health and wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, and make rehousing more difficult.”
Councillor Jeremy Pert (pictured), cabinet member for community and health, says: “Sometimes the private rental sector does not work as well as it could, which adds to our costs as a council, and means a smaller number of homes are available to our residents than could have been the case.
“By making the changes proposed to the existing private sector access policy we are hoping to secure greater access to the private rented sector and lower temporary accommodation costs.”