Nottingham City Council wanted to explore how they could further utilise the private rented sector to discharge their homelessness prevention and relief duties. This case study is part of the LGA's Housing Advisers Programme.
Effective use of the private rented sector as a housing resource is very important in Nottingham because the private sector is often both the cause and solution for homelessness. It was a critical time for us to be exploring how we make the most of the PRS given the new duties arising from the Homeless Reduction Act and the roll out of Universal Credit full service which occurred in October.
As well as exploring ways in which we could better engage with the PRS in order to secure more properties, we wanted to look at the ways in which we could deploy earlier interventions in order to prevent people from becoming homeless from PRS homes.
The role of the Housing Advisor was to be to engage with PRS landlords to ascertain what the barriers were to them working more closely with the Council in both respects.
The council was also looking to set up a social lettings scheme specifically aimed at delivering more PRS homes to relieve homelessness, and the LGA advisor was asked to look at this also.
Securing more accommodation in the PRS to respond to increasing levels of homelessness in the city, and to reduce the numbers of households in inappropriate temporary accommodation such as B&B.
The report of the project would, it was hoped, arrive at some solutions to the two aspects of working with the PRS that it was exploring. It was certainly helpful in identifying areas in which there could be better engagement and communication with landlords.
The impact would be assessed in terms of improved engagement with landlords and, ultimately, less people being made homeless from PRS tenancies and more PRS properties coming through for homelessness relief. It is difficult to quantify this in terms of savings.
How is the new approach being sustained?
Regular engagement and through our new Social Lettings scheme. The ideas reflected in the Section 21 protocol have been valuable.
Timing! The project was carried out at a time when the relationship between the Council and landlords was being heavily influenced by the commencement of the Council’s large selective licensing scheme. The comments that landlords made were often purely about licensing rather than the issues we wanted to explore. These comments were kept separate from the main report and fed back to the selective licensing team. In hindsight it may have been beneficial to have waited for the initial stir caused by licensing to have settled down a bit; on the other hand the homelessness crisis we were facing demanded urgent action, and the opportunity to obtain the support of a LGA advisor needed to be pursued.
Graham de Max, Housing Strategy and Partnerships Manager