With private rentals and holiday homes in high demand, many due to Covid and holiday staycations, some councils are offering landlords some very attractive incentives, dubbed “golden hellos” of up to £3,500.
Some councils have been offering private landlords and second home owners “golden hellos”, according to The Times newspaper of up to £3,500, plus six weeks’ rent paid up front, for those willing to house Afghan refugees.
The lettings are done on a rent-to-rent arrangement where the council rents off the landlord owner and then sublets (or effectively provides free accommodation) to the refugee families. The council manages the rental and pays rent (guaranteed rent) whether the property is occupied or not, and undertakes to return the property in good condition.
Some landlords are wary of rent-to-rent or “guaranteed rent” arrangements due the problems and legal complexities when multiple tenancies are involved, but letting to a local authority, providing the legal documentation is properly sorted, is considered much safer than letting to unknown and untried rent-to-rent landlord.
Generous payments up front
Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth, in southwest London, says The Times are offering incentives from £2,000 for a one-bedroom home and up to £3,500 for a four- bedroom property for a minimum tow-year contract.
Bristol city council is also offering one-off payments according to the publication of between £685 and £1,250 for a minimum of six months. The council will also furnish homes to what they claim will be “a high standard” and undertake basic maintenance and repairs.
Likewise, such is the shortage of rental accommodation at this time, Wiltshire council has offered to furnish homes and pay four months’ rent up-front and a month’s deposit.
The rent will be paid to landlords at the local housing allowance rates, which vary depending on the location, but for example, a four-bedroom property in Richmond upon Thames attracts a rental of £2,573 per month.
Kensington and Chelsea borough council is reported as offering to house four fortunate Afghan familes in four adjoining mews properties close to Portobello Road and its antiques market in west London. These are £1 million homes located in Britain’s richest borough which would ordinarily rent out privately for around £2,500 a month.
Local councils are anticipating difficulties finding suitable accommodation for the fleeing families as the average Afghan family is said to include seven members.
Elizabeth Campbell, the council leader at Kensington and Chelsea, told The Times:
“We must do what we can, and we must do it quickly. My hope is that others will step in and contribute over the coming weeks.”
She said that the council has already taken in around 500 migrants, including Afghans and many others who fleeing the Syrian civil war. So far many have been living in hotels for over 12 months while await their asylum claims to be processed.
Risk of exploitation
For those landlords with suitable accommodation in the right locations these deals may have great appeal as there is guaranteed rent, and little risk with a local authority backing, providing they agree suitable contracts.
One landlord from the north of England said he would be interested in the scheme but worries that some landlords with run-down accommodation would be taking advantage of the situation, earning these rewards on the cheap against more responsible landlords.