The Bond Board has been promoting use of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) as a credible, affordable housing opportunity for over 25 years in Greater Manchester and helped over 4,000 people access housing in the PRS across the region.
For 17 of those years now, I’ve been at The Bond Board and through a variety of roles I’ve come to realise that for many workers, tenants and residents, there are often myths about the PRS which reduces the potential use of a significant housing opportunity.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to address some of those concerns and open up some new positive discussions around using the Private Rented Sector as a choice for more Greater Manchester Housing First customers.
So here’s a little bit of myth-busting.
Myth: The Private Rented Sector is just properties with poor conditions
Fact: All properties offered through Housing First are inspected first by The Bond Board before being offered to ensure they meet the Decent Homes Standard. We would encourage support workers to view the property with clients prior to any form of accepting the property.
At sign-up a valid Gas Safety, electrical safety and Energy Performance Certificate will be issued confirming safety of the property. Remember the principle of “choice” – if you don’t like the property then that’s fine, no-one is obliged to sign for a property they don’t want.
Myth: There is no security in the Private Rented Sector
Fact: Tenancies are granted usually for an initial period of six months. This works for both tenants and landlords, they don’t know how the tenancy will go and tenants might not like the area, the neighbours or even the property itself.
No landlord makes money off an empty property so it’s not in any interests to keep moving tenants in and out every six months and periodic tenancies are very common (i.e after the fixed term ends) as it keeps the same rights rolling over but without a new fixed-term commitment.
If you want to rent somewhere due to not having a property in your ideal area, then this is perfect whilst you look for the ideal home! Flexibility is one of the great benefits of the PRS.
Myth: Landlords can just end the tenancy without notice
Fact: All tenants are protected under housing law meaning no-one can be “just kicked out” without notice.
There is a formal process a landlord has to undertake and this can only be after the completion of the fixed term (ie how long you sign the tenancy for).
The only way a landlord can serve notice during the tenancy if there is significant Anti-Social Behaviour or high levels of rent arrears.
With the Housing First principle of intensive support, we would like to think that we can avoid those issues but even then a landlord still has to go through a court process, a lengthy and expensive process meaning people are not just turfed out on the street.
Myth: Properties are really expensive
Fact: All properties offered by The Bond Board are at the “affordable” rate of rent meaning either fully covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit rates or a small extra “top-up” of no more than £30 per month on top of the allocated rate.
Help and advice would be given around applying for Discretionary Housing Payment (extra help from a local Authority towards meeting rent costs)
Other benefits of using the Private Rented Sector include:
Properties are usually available immediately
You have greater choice over where you live
Available furnished, unfurnished and even part-furnished.
It is easy to end the tenancy if you decide to move
More availability of stock compared to social housing
With social housing at its most scarce (even before Covid-19!) the Private Rented Sector can offer good quality and affordable housing quickly.
The Bond Board are available to advise staff and speak to landlords, owners and Agents about some of the benefits of working with Housing First so if you do view a private rented property that’s suitable then please let us know and we can help.
Visit The Bond Board website for more information.