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New £20m fund to help the homeless into PRS

Communities secretary James Brokenshire is launching a £20m fund to help people facing homelessness secure a home in the private rented sector.

The Private Rented Sector Access Fund launches tomorrow on World Homeless Day. It aims to help up to 9,000 people who are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless to secure their own home.

The cash will be given to councils and used to either help set up locally-led schemes or expand those currently in use. These schemes will be tailored to match the needs of each local area’s residents and landlords.

Under the plans councils could provide financial support to help people access or maintain a tenancy – for example, by paying a deposit to secure a home or by making rent payments. Some schemes may involve the council managing the property on the landlord’s behalf.

The fund is a key part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy which aims to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.

Brokenshire (pictured) says: “It is vital we give people facing homelessness a route out of it and a chance to rebuild their lives. The private rented sector has an important role in this. This £20 million fund will allow councils to put in place vital new schemes so that those at risk will have the support to secure their own tenancy.

“It is just one part of the wide-ranging work we are doing to help tackle all forms of homelessness, including our Rough Sleeping Strategy as we ensure more homes are made available for those in need.”

The fund is modelled on evidence provided from a programme run by homelessness charity Crisis which supported schemes to help homeless people into thousands of private rental tenancies.

The fund’s launch comes as patients, prisoners and jobseekers at risk of homelessness must now be referred to their local housing authority under new legislation. The “Duty to Refer”, a core part of the Homelessness Reduction Act, came into force this month and places new responsibilities on key public bodies such as prisons, job centres and NHS Trusts to ensure those at risk get the help they need.

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  • Ray Boulger 9th October 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Some of the people this scheme is designed to help may have difficulty providing sufficient evidence the Government requires landlords (under threat of jail) to obtain to prove entitlement to live in the UK. Some may not have such entitlement but some who do may struggle to prove it.

    Mr Brokenshire needs to confirm whether the legal responsibility to check entitlement rests solely with the local authority who will have to pay or guarantee this rent, thus allowing the landlord to rely on its checks, or whether the landlord will be legally required to make their own checks.

    Assuming lenders treat such tenants as DSS/Housing benefit tenants many landlords with a mortgage, including those whose mortgage is with the lender over 60% owned by the Government, would be in breach of their mortgage conditions if they let their property to such tenants.