Difficulties in finding landlords for social housing
As highlighted by Mark McGoogan January 2013's issue of Progress, we were and still are in the midst of a housing crisis. For people with learning disabilities looking for a supported living package, this is not improved by the cuts in Housing Benefit.
Housing is expensive for any individual but when funded within the constraints of housing benefit, cost becomes critical. It can be incredibly difficult and frustrating to try and find a suitable property or housing option in the right location and of liveable quality.
With limited options and low stock, there simply isn't enough specialist social housing for everyone. With the changes to the housing benefit system, benefits that were previously available to Registered Social Landlords (e.g. Housing Associations) have effectively been halved making future projects for RSL's more difficult.
It is just possible for private landlords to fund the purchase of appropriate housing for through the Housing Benefit system. There is a fine balance between affordability and a socially and ethically acceptable standard of accommodation.
Putting together package of care and support and sourcing a suitable place to live is a delicate and time consuming process. To put it bluntly, most social workers and care managers simply do not have the time or training to dedicate to the process of carefully matching care provider to landlord. They may also be hindered by local policies and procedures.
It is my full time role to act as an agent between landlords and a social care provider to introduce individuals looking for a suitable home and tenancy to landlords who are looking for the ideal tenant. A bit like a dating service!
I find it a difficult and frustrating experience trying to attract landlords willing to entrust their investments into this method of letting. I struggle to understand why but I believe it is a general lack of knowledge of the system and its advantages and a fear of not being able to protect their interests.
In reality, when landlords work closely with a care provider this is an incredibly secure method of managing a property investment: rental payments are usually guaranteed; there should be no agent's fee; there should be a full property management service to help with tenancy agreements and any other issues arising from renting property; maintenance will be kept on top of and the property will be visited on a regular basis by support staff.
For people who are looking for an ethical way to invest, becoming a social landlord is an obvious solution, which enables vulnerable people live independent lives. There are many options to consider but it is worth doing plenty of research and perhaps contacting a specialist managing agent for advice.