The 100 Syrian refugees that the City Council has committed to resettling in Cambridge are now all settled in housing, but we need to keep an eye out still for possible private properties in Cambridge as some of their contracts will expire. Landlords can still step forward and offer their properties to the local authority for the purpose of protecting and sheltering refugees under the Government’s vulnerable persons’ resettlement scheme. This doesn’t mean giving up the property for free; landlords will be eligible to receive local housing allowance rates. A let would need to be for a minimum of 3 years, but are ideally for longer so resettled refugees have more stability. Under this scheme the property needs a separate entrance, and to be a 3 or 4 bedroom property. (It is very unlikely that we would be able to use a 2 bedroom property.) The family will receive resettlement support from the Council and from Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign, so a landlord would not have support responsibilities. Fuller details are below.
If you are a landlord and would like to discuss offering your property, email us.
If you have a spare room to offer, we only need those rarely. Please consider signing up to Rooms for Refugees or Refugees at Home. Both these are organisations which match spare rooms and refugees that are in need of them.
Some organisations or communities might be interested in this scheme, in which a group sponsors a family and commits to providing a property and supporting them. Typically these are faith groups, community groups or refugee-supporting groups. Money is paid directly from the government to the organisation sponsoring. This is a huge commitment but, if you think your community might be interested, the place to start exploring is here. You are also welcome to contact us if you would like to talk this through with someone.
Under the Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme, a refugee will be entitled to claim State support on the same basis as would a UK citizen or other eligible person. State support for housing costs is limited to the local housing allowance, which can be seen on the Council website. Anyone wishing to offer accommodation under the scheme will need to be aware that rental income will be significantly below the market level.
The home must be lettable with a date for vacant possession. If the house is currently tenanted, the present agreement would need to be brought to an end lawfully. However, it would not be compatible with the Council’s wider housing duties if an existing tenancy were to be brought to an end solely for the purpose of housing a refugee household.
The accommodation would need to meet all current housing health and safety rating system requirements. It will need to be inspected by a member of the Council’s residential standards team. Any work required will need to be carried out at the owner’s expense. Only when the work is completed and passed can the Council consider re-housing a refugee family, and there may be a delay before the family is ready to move in.
Any tenancy offered should be of a fixed term of at least two years with a preference for three years. In all other respects the tenancy would be a standard assured tenancy and the landlord’s rights would remain what they would be under any other similar arrangement. The tenancy could therefore be brought to an end early in the case of, say, rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
The Home Office will require some kind of local authority oversight of the management of the property and, to this end, the Council’s social lettings agency, Town Hall Lettings (THL), is best placed to manage the tenancy. At a minimum this will involve setting up the tenancy, collecting the rent and dealing directly with the tenants in relations to arrears, repairs and other day-to-day matters. It would also involve acting on the landlord’s behalf regarding the conduct of the tenancy. To cover this, Town Hall Lettings will need to charge a fee for management set at 5% of the rent.
The property should also be in a location that is central to support services, schools and medical centres and with good public transport connections.