Folkestone & Hythe District Council encourage profiteering from homelessness

We have been informed by a growing regiment of tenants that landlords have issued them eviction notices but, bewilderingly, they don’t actually want to evict the tenants. Instead the landlords informed the tenants to, “go to the council, get them to pay me the incentive and you can stay”. We are not talking one or two landlords, and we are not just talking about landlords in our district, this seems to be going on across various parts of Kent. Such behaviour by landlords is unscrupulous and potentially fraudulent.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council offer landlords £1,000 for a 6 month tenancy, £1,500 for a 12 month  tenancy or £2,000 for a 24 month tenancy to incentivise them to rent out their properties.

Landlord incentives are essentially a bribe our council pay private landlords to persuade them to house homeless families or individuals across our district. They are used to either keep tenants at risk of being homeless in their current property, or help ease the process of finding a new place to live. This practice is widely known of within the housing sector, yet is almost unheard of elsewhere.

The Council’s Property Solutions incentives come in two free options for landlords:

Option 1

  • An incentive payment of £1,000 for a 6 month tenancy, £1,500 for a 12 month  tenancy or £2,000 for a 24 month tenancy

  • One month’s rent in advance

  • A deposit bond to cover damages equal to one month rent

  •  If our tenant has left  your  property, Folkestone & Hythe District Council  will  guarantee your rent for a maximum of two weeks or until we find you an alternative tenant (whichever is the lesser)

Option 2

  • Reimbursement of the cost of a gas safety certificate and an electrical safety certificate

  • One month rent in advance

  • Bond agreement to cover damages equal to one month rent

  • Bond agreement to cover rent arrears equal to one month rent

  • If our tenant has left  your  property,  Folkestone & Hythe District  Council  will  guarantee your rent for a maximum of two weeks or until we find you an alternative tenant (whichever is the lesser)

The most obvious solution to homelessness would be to build more social housing. But decades of government lethargy on house building – coupled with our council homes continuing to be sold off under Right to Buy – means demand far exceeds supply.

In fact between 2009/10 and 2017/18 F&HDC have sold off 120 homes and built close to 100 homes with the intention to build 200 more. So all the grand standing by Cllr Alan Ewart James (Tory) Cabinet Member for Housing equates to nothing, as the Council have not replaced/built the number of houses they have sold.

Our council is paying private landlords tens of thousands in incentives to house homeless people or people at risk of homelessness, because landlords are acting unscrupulously as we mentioned at the beginning of the post. They can in part do this because they are fully aware the Council is forced to ration access to social housing.

Evictions from private tenancies are the biggest cause of homelessness in the UK. Housing law allows landlords  to issue a two-month eviction notice just four months into a 12-month tenancy, meaning a family could be legally evicted just six months after our council stumped up thousands of pounds to get a family/individual into a property.  43% of residents who rent in the district are on low incomes. More than three quarters of this group are being reduced to poverty after paying their rent, leaving households stuck in a cycle of insecurity and homelessness. At the same time, the housing benefit paid to the top 14 private landlords/agents between 2014/15 and 23/01/19 reached a cool £8.6 million. At a time when our council is stretched after a decade of austerity, stuffing this amount of public money into private pockets is nothing short of criminal.

The long-term solution to this mess is creating more social homes. But even with the best will in the world, this will take years. At the moment, our council is simply pushing people into a revolving door with no exit. Within as little as four months they can find themselves turfed out, despite our council having spent thousands of pounds in incentives to get them housed. If nothing changes, our cash-strapped council will have to continue to throw increasing amounts of money at a housing sector that is simply churning people in and out of homelessness.

The Shepwayvox Team

Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful

(We make it clear none of the landlords mentioned in the 2nd graph have done anything wrong. They have received all HB payments legitimately. And to the best of our knowledge none have issued evictions notices to tenants forcing them into obtaining any incentives offered by FHDC.)
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2 Comments on Folkestone & Hythe District Council encourage profiteering from homelessness

  1. Happy Elsewhere // March 30, 2019 at 08:37 // Reply

    As a former Council employee who lost there job, I find it disturbing to discover they are paying thousands to landlords, yet were not willing to keep excellent staff in position. Vote out the Tories on May 2nd.

  2. What to say? Disgusting behaviour regarding private landlords, my question is, if I buy a house in Folkestone and let the local council put homeless people in it, will they pay me the rent? Or will the tenant pay me?

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