Landlord incentives are essentially a bribe our council and others pay private landlords to persuade them to house homeless families or individuals. 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.
Between Jan 2018 and present Folkestone & Hythe District Council have offered landlords the following financial incentives.
The Council’s website makes it clear there are three options for private landlords to choose from regarding these incentives. The payouts are made in addition to rent
During the period 2017/18 and 2018/19 to present, Folkestone & Hythe District Council paid private landlords a monetary incentive to house clients who approached the Council as homeless or threatened with homelessness 23 times. In 2017/18 it was 10 times and the total amount offered was £13,550 and in 2018/19 it was 13 times and the total amount offered was £14,500. The largest single pay out by the Council paid to a private landlord to house a client who had approached them as homeless or threatened with homelessness is £2,000
The most obvious solution to homelessness would be to build more social housing. And it’s true that F&HDC have promised to build 300 new homes. There was a hiatus for 10 years between 2004 and 2014. However, building 300 homes will NOT be enough. Add in Right to Buy – means demand far exceeds supply. This is why our Council pays private landlords thousands in incentives to house homeless people or people at risk of homelessness, as they are forced to ration access to social housing.
David Smith, the policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, said: “Councils should be focusing more on supporting tenants [so they don’t become homeless]. Bribing people isn’t the answer. You end up with people taking tenants who don’t really want them and then evicting them later.”
Smith added: “The decimation of social housing stock, together with the punitive benefits freeze and refusal to address the growing issue of evictions, has created an environment where some private landlords are using a council’s desperation to pocket huge cash incentives just to rent their property out.”
The payouts by our Council is a symptom of our local broken housing market. So what do our newly elected Political Parties to the District Chamber say they will do
“Build new, good quality council houses to end our housing crisis and give local people a secure home“
Now they are elected to office, can they tell us, and you, when this building programme will begin, or will they remain silent on the specifics of their promise? Transparency matters.
The two newly elected Folkestone & Hythe Liberal Democrats District Cllrs make clear that we “need to demand a massive increase in the building of social housing.” But then fail to explain how they will do this. T
And the six freshly elected District Cllrs belonging to the Shepway Green Party will “ensure everyone is provided with housing appropriate to their needs that is affordable, secure and comfortable.” How they intend to deliver this locally is NOT made clear.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and with the best will in the world, their promises/intentions will take years. They may NEVER happen as all of them are in office, but NOT in power.
In the short term, all the new locally elected parties to our District Council regarding housing, are dependent on central government, as they, and they alone dictate the policy which our Council is obliged to follow. The Tories have promised to scrap no-fault evictions at a national level. However, they do not say when this will be introduced. This may go some way to easing the broken housing problem, which exists in the district and the country as a whole. It’s clear that we need to re-introduce rent controls. At the moment, our council is simply pushing people into a revolving door with no exit. Within as little as four months tenants can find themselves turfed out, despite our council having spent thousands of pounds in incentives to get them housed. If nothing changes, our 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. Our newly elected District Councillors will NOT be able to do a thing about it, regardless of their promises to the voters, as they are in office but NOT in power, for now.
The Shepwayvox Team