Ethical Lettings – Walton-on-Thames Social Enterprise
Ethical Lettings –
Walton-on-Thames Social Enterprise
Ethical Lettings is a social enterprise, based in Walton-on-Thames, that was set up in 2012 in response to private landlords wanting a lower risk option in letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit.
The company is a Community Interest Company (CIC) which is a relatively new type of company introduced by the government in 2005 as part of the Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise Act 2004. CICs are designed for social enterprises who want to use profits for the public good by reinvesting the profits made back into the community, as opposed to going directly to Directors and Shareholders.
Instead, all profits are used to improve the services and quality of life for vulnerable households in the local community. Profits are used to go towards providing homes in the private rented sector, for local families who are threatened with homelessness in Surrey and South West London. We work in partnership with various borough councils including: Elmbridge, Wavereley, Richmond, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede and Spelthorne.
How does it work?
Although aspects of the company work like a Lettings Agent, the way it operates varies from your local high street lettings agent or private landlords who are both extremely hesitant in letting to people on benefits. Ethical Lettings aim to lower this risk by acting as an intermediary, guaranteeing the rent monthly in advance to the landlord or agent regardless of whether we receive the rent from the tenant or the housing benefit department. The management service is completely free and often making landlords ask “so what is the catch?”. The truth is, there isn’t one. Ethical Lettings offer slightly lower rates than high street agents, which is of course made up for with free service and guaranteed rent. In 2015 the company’s annual guaranteed rent bill was £555,593.85 and a rent payment was NEVER missed!
The majority of our tenants are working, but on medium to low income with occupations such as carers, nurses or self-employed tradespeople. They find it difficult to find private rented accommodation on their own due to the high costs of access and difficulty in referencing some of their incomes. Most our tenants rent with us for at least 18 months until they can find their feet again and they no longer require the extensive tenancy support that we offer.
It is great knowing that Ethical Lettings has helped to give families and households the assistance that they need to get back on their feet again. Our first success was helping single, separated from her partner and pregnant Mum, Maggie along with her two children to move from unsuitable temporary Council accommodation. We found her a lovely three bedroom house in Hersham backing onto playing fields. Maggie was on maternity leave from her job as a cashier at a High Street bank at the time of the move. Keen to get back to work after having her third child, we visited Maggie regularly, helping her with budgeting and supporting her transition back to work after her maternity leave.
No longer stressed about finances and insecure housing, Maggie and her partner re-kindled their relationship. One year on and Maggie had successfully applied for a new job. Her and her partners’ income got to a level that they no longer were eligible or required support from Housing Benefit.
Ethical Lettings also assisted Rebecca who needed help when she was served with a notice from her previously rented property as the landlord needed the property back for the purposes of selling. A self employed cleaner with two teenage daughters, Rebecca was struggling to find a High Street Agency that would assist her due to the difficulty in referencing her self employed income. Rebecca’s daughter had been suffering nasty bullying at school. Rebecca had taken the decision to take her daughter out of school and provide home schooling. She had spent some of her rent money setting up the home schooling and because she wasn’t doing as much cleaning, her earnings had reduced. But she was too proud to claim the Housing Benefit to which she was entitled.
Desperate to try and learn a new trade she could do from home whist home schooling her daughter, she taught herself how to sew and started making cushions to sell on Ebay. Ethical Lettings supported her through this process, helping her budget, and advised her on the set up and accounting of her new business and agreed an affordable repayment plan for her rent arrears.
Overall, since the company started we have managed to find homes in the private rented sector for just under 70 families who were left unintentionally homeless, and we have assisted in helping over 130 individuals! In 2016 we hope to increase our property portfolio and we aim to expand the areas and the borough we work within.
*Names of tenants have been changed for confidentiality
If you would like to know more, of know someone who would benefit from our services please do not hesitate to get in touch.
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