Letting Agent Plus Project 1st Jul 2017
With 14% of all households in Scotland now calling the private rented sector home compared with just 5% back in 1999, more people than ever are looking to the private rented sector for long-term housing solutions either through choice or necessity. This growth has led to a more diverse tenant base and, for a variety of reasons, many more private tenants now require extra ongoing or occasional support to access and sustain private tenancies.
Shelter Scotland has been consulting with letting agents, including The Key Place, as part of their new ‘Letting Agent Plus’ pilot project. They found significant evidence that many agents have tenants who need support but it is not always immediately clear or obvious where to find it. Agents often experience significant barriers when trying to help tenants access the support they need to sustain their tenancies. The new pilot project therefore aims to address some of these barriers through a cohort of agents from across the central belt working in partnership with Shelter Scotland.
Tenants of social landlords are often perceived to have better opportunities to access the necessary housing, money and debt and welfare benefits advice needed to sustain tenancies compared with private tenants. Many housing associations and local authorities either have well-established in-house support teams or good working links into local support agencies. Although there is often a desire to meet the support needs of their tenants, letting agents, in comparison, do not have the same level of resources or capacity to do so.
The ‘Letting Agent Plus’ project aims to build on pre-existing good practice in the lettings industry by providing agents with the knowledge and streamlined referral links required to better help tenants, with one off or ongoing support needs, to access and sustain tenancies in the private rented sector.
Natasha Miller, Letting Agent Plus Development Officer is working with approximately fourteen letting agents, including The Key Place, from across the central belt of Scotland to design a ‘Letting Agent Plus’ service that agents can offer to their tenants who need this extra support. In addition to offering one-to-one support, an advice helpline and access to free training and information for the participating agents, the pilot project will be looking at ways to improve referral routes into essential advice and support agencies on a range of tenancy issues. This in turn should reduce costs of tenancy failure for landlords, agents and tenants alike.
The Key Place is delighted to be supporting Shelter Scotland in this new venture.