My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Council to create a Social Letting Agency to meet housing pressures

Credit: RCT Council

Cabinet has agreed to RCT Council creating a Social Letting Agency (SLA) to manage private rented properties for landlords – providing sustainable and affordable housing for those in need and acting as an incentive for vacant properties to be brought into use.

A report to the virtual Cabinet meeting on Thursday, September 24, outlined a business case for the SLA, and noted £129,000 Welsh Government funding has been secured to establish and run it for the remainder of 2020/21.

The Council’s Homelessness Strategy highlights the steps the Council is taking to improve the service and meet pressures. One of the actions outlined was to establish a Social Letting Agency with a managed funding model, which would see private landlords pay the Council a fee to manage and let their properties.

Thursday’s report to Cabinet outlined that many landlords and vacant property owners have expressed a desire for the Council to run such a service, while it is also a more sustainable longer-term housing option for prospective clients.

Many clients require additional support to enable them to sustain a tenancy in the private sector, through budgeting help or low-level mental health support. Establishing an SLA will also allow the Council provide this support.

Landlords will be required to sign a five-year agreement with the Council and rent their property at local housing allowance rates for the duration of this agreement. The Council will then allocate each of these properties as part of its housing stock, with staff managing them on a day-to-day basis.

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being & Cultural Services, said: “Cabinet has agreed for the Council to establish and run a Social Letting Agency, using already-secured Welsh Government funding for 2020/21. This is one of the actions following the introduction of the Council’s Homelessness Strategy, which outlined a number of options to meet the current pressures on the Council’s housing provision.

“The pressures on our homelessness services have become even more significant this year, arising from the Coronavirus emergency. From March to June this year, the service reported a 76% increase in homelessness applications, and a significant rise in the number of people placed in emergency temporary accommodation. It is a clear indication that the social rented sector cannot meet the demands of our clients on its own.

“We’ve seen in other Welsh Local Authorities that an SLA can bridge the gap between the requirements of private landlords and the needs of vulnerable tenants. With the Council effectively running the properties and keeping a close management eye on them, it allows landlords to take an arm’s length approach – and an incentive to bring their vacant property back into use. At the same time, vulnerable clients will be given support by the Council to ensure the tenancy is right for them, ensuring they have housing stability.

“Cabinet noted the contents of the Officer report in Thursday’s meeting – and the Council will now take the steps to establish the Social Letting Agency.”