‘It’s a win-win’: Find out why this landlord rents her property to refugees and has never looked back
From Jo, landlord & Community Sponsorship volunteer
When my property in London became available, I knew that I wanted to find a way to let it to a refugee family. And I can say now that this was the best decision I could have made. It’s been such a simple way to make a transformational difference to the life of a refugee family.
Letting your property to refugees really is a win-win – you get your regular rental payments and a refugee family gets a home. On top of this, the community is enriched by the refugee family’s presence. You benefit, the family benefits, and the community benefits. I can’t recommend it enough.
There are two main ways that you can rent your home to newly arrived refugees. You can offer your property to a Community Sponsorship Group or you can offer it to your council (if they are participating in a resettlement scheme). Either way, you’ll be providing a home to vulnerable refugees. The only difference is that refugees resettled through Community Sponsorship receive their main support from local people rather than the Local Authority. To find out how to rent your home to refugees through Community Sponsorship, get in touch with Reset.
As a landlord, I know that you probably have lots of questions that you need answered before you’ll feel confident about letting your property to newly-arrived refugees. In this blog, I’ve answered some of the biggest questions that I had when I first began to consider letting my property to refugees.
Q: Will the refugee tenants pay rent?
When I first suggested to my husband that we rent our property to a refugee family, he thought I was giving it away and we wouldn’t get any money. I assured him that refugees are entitled to apply for Universal Credit and so we would get our regular rental payments. We haven’t had any difficulties in securing rental payments. It’s even possible to receive payments directly from the Government!
The amount of Universal Credit that a household can receive for housing costs is calculated using the Local Housing Allowance. You can check online what the Local Housing Allowance will be for your property. This will probably be less than the market rate so you may make less money than you have been, but you’ll also get the privilege of knowing that you’re making a real difference to the lives of people who had lost everything. Plus you won't need to go through an agency so you'll save the agency fees (often around 10% of monthly rent).
Q: How can I know that the refugees are genuinely in need?
All of the refugee families resettled in the UK have had their refugee status determined by the UN’s Refugee Agency, UNHCR. In fact, the UK only resettles those refugees that the UN considers to be most vulnerable. You can read more about how refugees are selected for resettlement here.
Q: Will I need to make changes to my property in order to let to refugees?
You may be asked to make some changes to your property because you’ll be renting to vulnerable tenants. For example, we had to install two fire doors and upgrade the fire detectors.
But this wasn’t a problem as we discovered that we were able to cover all of this (and more!) using an incentive payment offered to us by the council. I’d definitely recommend finding out what incentive payments could be available to you in your Local Authority area if you decide to offer your property to refugees. In some cases, additional funding is available to make changes to a property for those with mobility needs and to improve accessibility.
Q: Will the neighbours react negatively?
I’ve found that when people actually meet each other, any bitterness just disappears. It’s much easier to hold a negative opinion about people you’ve never met than about your neighbours. In my experience, the community have been really supportive.
You can feel confident that there won’t be any major issues because the police will be consulted on whether your property is in a suitable location for a refugee family. If they have significant concerns about how the community will react, then they will not approve your property.
Q: Will I be responsible for helping the refugee family to settle in? What if they need lots of support?
If you rent your property to refugees through the Community Sponsorship scheme, there will be a whole group of local people dedicated to supporting the refugees living in your property. They will support the family to apply for benefits, learn English, manage their finances and get to know the local area.
Q: How can I get started?
To rent your property to refugees through Community Sponsorship, register your property on the Reset website. A member of Reset’s staff team will get in touch to talk to you about your options. If you want to chat to Reset before registering your property, they are more than happy to talk to anyone who is considering providing their property to refugee tenants. Just get in touch!
Letting my property to refugees has been a simple way to make a massive difference to the life of a family that has lost everything. You can make a difference too.
‘It’s a win-win’: Find out why this landlord rents her property to refugees and has never looked back is also published in Reset UK on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.