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National Homeless Advice Service

The private rented sector

Agencies working to support young people in taking up tenancies in the private sector have developed a range of different models of accommodation, with each being suited to differing local circumstances.

Different models of support are also offered, depending on the needs and circumstances of the young person.

Accommodation options and challenges

The style of accommodation may be:

  • lodgings - a room with facilities in a resident landlord’s house
  • shared flats
  • shared houses and houses in multiple occupation
  • self-contained (studio) flats.

There is considerable evidence that large properties with multiple tenancies may be unsuitable. High turnover, a mixture of ages and little management control over access to the building means that these properties are more likely to become the scenes of drug using and dealing, low level crime and anti-social behaviour, and to present a material risk to the safety and emotional well-being of young people.

Agencies have developed a number of models for the property management relationship, with the twin objectives of recruiting willing landlords and good quality property, and of offering safety and some support to young tenants. These models represent a range of property management responsibility, for example:

  • No relationship - the young tenants rent direct from the private landlord, the agency has minimal input after the tenancy starts
  • No relationship - the young tenants rent direct from the private landlord, the agency has minimal input after the tenancy starts
  • The agency enters into a management agreement with the landlord, but is not the landlord party to the tenancy
  • The property is leased on behalf of the scheme by a third party (a housing association usually) or by the agency (or its parent housing association), who then becomes the landlord party to the tenancy. This is obviously more appropriate for entire houses and self-contained flats.

It is important for agencies to overcome landlords’ concerns about letting to (or having their property used by) young tenants. Several initiatives can be used to offer security and/or efficiency in letting and re-letting. For example, where the landlord is entering into a tenancy agreement with the young tenant, agencies can provide:

  • tenant vetting
  • financial assurance in the shape of bonds or rent guarantees, rent in advance or rent deposits
  • fast-tracking of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) claims, and direct payment of the housing benefit
  • assistance with inventories and moving-in and moving-out formalities.

In circumstances where the property is leased from the landlord, agencies can provide a secure rental income for the period of the lease, responsibility for furnishings and a maintenance service.

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Further information

The 2012 Crisis report Working with the private rented sector to tackle youth homelessness describes good practice in the provision of specifically targeted services to young people. The report comes with a toolkit, with models and examples of good practice, and tools in a ‘ready-to-use’ format.

For additional information on access to the private rented sector and post tenancy support, see the page on peer learning examples.

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