Figures obtained by Zacchaeus 2000 Trust through the Freedom of Information Act, have highlighted that over the past 3 years London Boroughs have spent almost £18 million persuading private landlords to rent their properties to homeless families.
Feedback from 28 London Boroughs revealed that it is becoming increasingly popular for councils to offer an extra fee over and above the rent or deposit for accommodating a homeless household.
Joanna Kennedy, the Chief Executive of Zacchaeus 2000 explains:
“London boroughs are being forced to use ever more desperate means to entice private landlords to provide temporary accommodation for homeless households as well as discharging their duty into the private sector”
The results also indicated that the sum spent by London councils has more than doubled from £3,583,275.68 in 2012/13 to £7,282,936.87 in 2014/15.
It goes on to highlight that the highest spending council was the London Borough of Enfield, with a total in 2014/15 of over £1.1 million. This was followed by Brent London Borough Council and Redbridge London Borough Council with 2014/15 figures of over £815,000 and £743,000 respectively.
Despite the overall increase in figures from 2013/14 to 2014/15, the results show that the figures for a number of London Boroughs actually decreased. This includes Camden London Borough Council, who, in 2013/14 spent a total of £429,000.00 on incentives for private landlords decreasing in 2014/15 to £223,000.
Margaret McLennan, a lead member for regeneration and housing at Brent Council said:
“We have to pay incentive payments to be able to access accommodation in the private rented sector to meet homelessness demands.”
The head of policy at the Chartered Institute Housing (CIH), Melanie Rees, goes on to say:
“The nub of this is the lack of good quality, affordable homes”
These fees are being used more frequently as a method of brokering new tenancies to prevent homelessness, discharge councils’ duty into the private sector, or secure temporary accommodation. It has even become common for the money to be used to outbid another council which is competing with a local authority for the property.
Worried how this and other UK property situations might change in the next five years? Check out our general election breakdown here.