Witney News - Successful housing schemes to prevent homelessness

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Successful housing schemes to prevent homelessness

West Oxfordshire District Council has set aside £40,000 from its Homelessness grant to help secure rented accommodation for those who would otherwise be facing homelessness.

Accessing private rented accommodation can be very difficult for those without a job or on a low income. Landlords normally require rent in advance and a sizeable deposit. Some landlords are also reluctant to rent out to people on benefits.

The Council operates two schemes:

Rent in Advance - normally four weeks rent in advance is provided on the condition that it is paid back in reasonable instalments. During 008/09, 62 payments were made to assist requests for rent in advance, compared to 19 in the previous year. Only those on housing benefits are eligible to apply.

Deposit Guarantee Scheme – here the Council acts as guarantor by agreeing a bond with the landlord to the value of the deposit, instead of paying the money upfront. Last year 71 deposit bonds were granted and this is an increase of 45 compared to the 26 issued in 2006/07.

At the end of the tenancy any claims made by the landlord against damage to the property are claimed against the bond and the landlord is secure in knowing the Council will promptly meet the costs. The outgoing tenant is responsible for repaying the Council. Those on housing benefits or on a low income are eligible to apply.

Over the last 12 months the Council has seen a significant increase in the number of applications for both the above schemes. Sixty homeless preventions were achieved with 15 potentially homeless single people and 45 families assisted to access accommodation in the private sector.

The increase in the number of applications has coincided with an increase in the number of properties now being made available for private renting in the District. Letting agents and tenants have also become more willing to accept tenants covered by the above schemes.

Cllr Jill Dunsmore, Cabinet Member for Housing said, “We must seek to prevent homelessness and these schemes have been very effective in helping to achieve this aim. They have enabled people to access private rented accommodation and have also offered reassurance to private landlords who might have been cautious about renting property to those on benefits or on a low income.”

West Oxfordshire District Council would like to hear from any other landlords interested in finding out more about these schemes. Further information is on www.westoxfordshire/housing or telephone 01993 861010.

Posted : 21/05/2009 18:38:04

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