The Peer Landlord scheme continues to provide high-quality, affordable and supportive private accommodation for those at risk of becoming homeless. Catch22 has delivered the Peer Landlord project in partnership with Commonweal Housing since 2012, managing a total of six homes – helping 18 young people at any one time.
Catch22 specifically focuses on providing homes and peer support for young people. Peer Landlord homes offer shared accommodation, a form of housing that government policy expects single people under 35 to be living in. Individuals aged between 16 to 34 make up 59% of London’s private sector rental market (Greater London Authority, 2014).
Peer Landlord offers an opportunity for young tenants to live in shared accommodation, supported by peers – other young people who are perhaps a bit further on in their personal journeys and can provide informal support and mentoring, as well as helping to ensure the house runs smoothly. This allows individuals to develop the skills needed to successfully live in private, shared housing, to learn about costs and budgeting and to better prepare for continued independent living in future; while holding down a job or attending education or training courses.
Rent costs and housing benefit
Changes in housing benefit for young people aged under 35 has resulted in a shortfall – between the amount of benefit paid and rent charged. In responses to these changes, Catch22 made the decision to reduce rent to a level covered by the new housing benefit payments; making it less likely for rent payments to be missed.
Move on savings
Although there is no time limit as to how long tenants can stay in a property, the scheme offers individuals the chance to save for a future deposit. Tenants pay £11 for a service charge, and agree to £6 of this being placed in a move-on fund. All residents have been very positive happy about this method of saving.
Choosing tenants and peers
Catch22 works hard to ensure each house is made up of young people that can work well together and motivate each other. Catch22 has developed focused criteria for choosing tenants – which includes providing evidence that the young person can manage welfare benefits, has knowledge of housing benefit and tenure agreements, can prove a commitment to finding work or sustaining educational development, as well as demonstrating a commitment to building effective networks. Of course there is never a guarantee that things will work out, as with any shared housing, but this approach has meant a greater probability of success – by placing individuals who are ready for the level of independence needed to be a Peer Landlord tenant.
Peer landlords are tenants who provide positive role models for other sharers, with a responsibility for making sure their house runs smoothly. So identifying who will take up the role of the peer landlord is of course crucial to the scheme. In addition to the above criteria, potential peer landlords need to demonstrate a mix of positive traits including an ability to coach others.
Julian is a peer landlord and a fantastic example of what the scheme offers for young people.
Julian had lived in supported accommodation since age 17 when the relationship with his mother broke down. He approached Catch22 after hearing about Peer Landlord homes from current tenants.
Julian stood out straight away because – despite his unstable housing situation, he was able to do a fitness instructor course, was highly active in his community and led a creative dance group.
Since entering the Peer Landlord scheme Julian has thrived, he regularly engages his peers in taking up activities, has moved on to the next level of his fitness instructor course, continues to sustain his welfare benefits and pays his occupancy charges on time. He has also reconnected with his mother, which is wonderful. Julian says he has finally found somewhere that feels like home.
Leon Honeysett, London Services Manager, Catch22