Accommodation finding scheme for private sector landlords
We offer a service to match local landlords with people who are in need of accommodation. We arrange introductions and offer advice and assistance to set up the tenancy.
We offer a rent deposit bond to landlords equivalent to one month’s rent, which may be used to cover damages during the tenancy. To protect the landlord and tenant, a full inventory is carried out in the presence of the landlord prior to the tenant moving into the property. A second inventory is carried out in the same manner after the tenant vacates the property.
Throughout the tenancy, the accommodation finding service officer will be on hand to give advice and to try to resolve any problems.
The scheme has been very successful. Currently there are 142 properties which have tenants introduced by us.
The service is free to both tenants and landlords and includes all administrative support, paperwork and advice.
We provide tenancy sustainment support working closely with Housing Benefits where necessary.
Rent Deposit Scheme Leaflet for Landlords (pdf. 603)
For more information telephone the Accommodation Finding Officer on 01372 732000.
Housing advice for private landlords
Housing Services offers advice to private landlords who rent out their properties. Information is offered on how to find suitable tenants, setting up and ending tenancies, landlord and tenant law and the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.
Housing Services also has a wide range of leaflets on housing issues for private landlords, available on request.
Private Sector Landlords’ Forum
The Forum is held in the evening in the Town Hall, every spring. This is a free event, open to all local private landlords and letting agents and anyone interested in letting property in the Borough. The Forum is an opportunity for landlords and agents to meet Council officers and find out about the range of services that the Council offers to private landlords, and the role that the Council plays in relation to the private rented sector.
Housing Services, Housing Benefit and Environment Health Services are all represented at these events, as well as other invited participants, for example the Fire & Rescue Service or Surrey Police. The Forum includes talks and workshops on a variety of relevant subjects given by outside speakers and Council officers, with opportunities to ask questions and discuss issues.
The purpose of holding these events is to provide a forum for the exchange of information and expertise on housing related issues and to offer a means of consultation and communication between the Council and private landlords. The Forum seeks to promote the use of good practice by landlords in the sector and assist them to run successful tenancies, and to promote the different services the Council offers. The Council would like to see best use made of all the housing stock in the Borough, including private rented accommodation and empty homes, and hopes that this Forum furthers that end.
If you are interested in attending the next Forum, please contact us on 01372 732000.
If you wish to go on the mailing list to receive notification of the annual Private Sector Housing Forum, please contact Housing Services on 01372 732000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legislation for Deposits and Housing Benefits
Tenancy Deposit Protection
On 6 April 2007 Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) was introduced to ensure good practice in handling deposits so that a tenant who pays a deposit and is entitled to get it back can be assured that it will be repaid. Where there is a dispute about repayment, the scheme encourages the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Deposits taken for assured shorthold tenancies will only apply to tenancies that began on or after 6 April 2007. From this date all deposits taken by landlords from, or on behalf of tenants, must be safeguarded by one of three Government approved schemes. These consist of a custodial scheme and two insurance based schemes.
There are four options for a landlord to consider when taking a deposit to cover damages at the start of a new tenancy.
Option 1. Do not take a deposit.
The majority of landlords rarely need to withhold a deposit which would indicate that it may be worth considering whether taking a deposit is necessary. If the landlord wishes to avoid the cost and bureaucracy of entering any of the schemes it would be an option to consider.
Alternatively landlords can partake in the Accommodation Finding Scheme (AFS) run by EEBC’s Housing Services. This is a no-fee scheme in which prospective tenants are introduced to the landlord. The AFS will provide a Landlords Guarantee Bond to the amount of one month rent on the property. The AFS officer prepares a check-in inventory prior to the tenant taking up residence, and a check-out inventory after the tenant moves out. This gives the landlord the peace of mind without having the extra administration and expense of having to obtain a professional inventory firm to carry out the checks on the property. See the final paragraph of this article for further details.
Most landlords require a deposit, usually the equivalent of one month’s rent, and one month’s rent in advance in order to secure a property.
From 6 April 2007, any deposit taken from a private tenant for an assured shorthold tenancy must be protected by the landlord or agent using a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme.
Option 2. Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
0845 226 7837
Option 3. My Deposit
0844 980 0290
Option 4. The Deposit Protection Service
The Deposit Protection Service
0844 4727 000
If a landlord does not protect the deposit there will be restrictions on gaining possession of a property by giving notice under section 21 Housing Act 1988. The tenant can apply to the court for an order requiring the deposit to be safeguarded. Where the court believes that the landlord has failed to comply, or the deposit is not held in an authorised scheme, the court must either order the landlord to repay the deposit within 14 days to the tenant, or to pay it to the custodial scheme administrator. The court must also order the landlord to pay the tenant a fine of three times the amount of the deposit within 14 days.
Advice given by the Residential Landlords Association is that landlords should avoid taking a deposit of less than £600.00, or use the Government Custodial Scheme, Deposit Protection Scheme. Landlords should make sure the inventory is accurate and signed by the landlord and the tenant. The landlord must also insure that they are using the correct Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.
Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance
As from April 2008 people renting from a private landlord and changing address or making a new Housing Benefit claim will have their benefit calculated from the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
Those not covered by the new LHA are:
- Council tenants
- Housing Association tenants
- Tenants with a registered ‘fair rent’
- Pre 1989 tenancies
- Tenancies provided by charitable or voluntary organisations which include care, support or supervision
- Tenants of caravans, mobile homes and house boats.
For the LHA the Valuation Office Agency’s previous valuations of individual accommodation has been replaced and instead the Valuation Office Agency will set a flat rate LHA for properties in the broad market area based upon the number of bedrooms. This will form the starting point of the LHA calculation. Entitlement will still be assessed taking into account a claimant's income and personal circumstances and thus may be paid at a rate lower than the Valuation Office Agency's figure.
The LHA for differing sizes of accommodation will be set by the Valuation Office Agency each month and the details will be publicised locally by the Housing Benefit Section. The LHA will be the rate for the month in which the claim starts. Unless there is some relevant change (eg the birth of a child), the LHA will be unchanged for 52 weeks.
The other main change is that the LHA will be paid directly to tenants with only a very few exceptions to this rule. Payment to a landlord may be made where the tenant is considered vulnerable and would have great difficulty in ensuring their rent was paid, or if the tenant falls into arrears of eight contractual weeks or more. Documented proof will be required to evidence why payments are made to a landlord. For example, rent account records that show arrears, and letters from social services regarding issues of vulnerability.