Celebrating two years of shared living

two girls on sofa shutterstock_154725254The Peer Landlord scheme has now been up and running for over two years. That’s two years of offering tenants a shared, reasonably priced and supportive home.

Both Thames Reach and Catch22 continue to deliver the Peer Landlord project – from recruiting tenants, ensuring rent is paid, providing training to Peer Landlords and generally managing all aspects of
the scheme.

As part of Commonweal’s commitment to developing new models and capturing what works and what doesn’t we commissioned an independent, two year evaluation with the University of York, we share some of what we have learnt with you here. For full details, check our website in the next few weeks when we will be publishing the interim findings.

Benefits 

  • Cheaper rent compared to renting individually.
  • Sharing with only two other tenants.
  • Good quality housing with a communal living area and a garden.
  • Support from a Peer Landlord mentor.
  • Living with others actively in or seeking work or training.

Updates in the second year

  • There is now more clarity amongst tenants about the role of the Peer Landlord in providing informal support and as a point of liaison with Catch22 and Thames Reach.
  • Both organisations now have stricter procedures when choosing appropriate tenants.
    This means that new house shares are more successful as tenants are ready for the arms length ‘supportive’ as opposed to a more ‘supported’ environment.
  • It is now expected that all sharers are either in or actively seeking employment, education or training.
  • Many of the newer tenants were able to meet each other before moving in, some already knew others as they had lived in the same area previously.

“I think it is good [Peer Landlord project] has found a good balance between providing support and providing housing – not leaving you completely. I think I’d be better equipped when I want to move…I wouldn’t be worried about moving into a shared house even if I didn’t know the other tenants” (Tenant)

Challenges

  • Ensuring some tenants keep up with rent payments is still a challenge, especially when reliant on delayed housing benefits. Although rent arrears are much reduced compared to previous years.
  • There have been different expectations from tenants e.g. some initially thought this was a step towards social housing. However more clarity with potential tenants is helping.
  • The report recommends that all Peer Landlords should receive training before they are accepted onto the scheme to make sure they fully understand what the role involves. Some training is already offered, this should be built on.
  • Thames Reach’s tenants pay bills between them, Catch22’s pay a service charge.
    It is recommended that all are offered the valuable skills of how to pay bills.

Moving out

It is not intended that tenants will want to stay in the house share indefinitely; many still aspire to eventually own their own properties but are realistic about the prospects in an expensive housing market. A move out date is purposefully not set, instead allowing all to move on when the time is right for them.

We are continuing to work with Catch22 and Thames Reach to develop the Peer Landlord model,  shape it and share the learnings.

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