Project overview

The Peer Landlord project seeks to test a model of shared housing provision where more advanced clients are able to provide informal, positive, role model peer-support to other clients in a structured, supportive accommodation arrangement.

Peer Landlord accommodation will offer an alternative to the traditional models of shared, supported housing, whilst challenging the notion that private, rented shared housing is an unattractive option. However it is an option that current government policy is forcing more and more people into – many without the skills and experience to make such accommodation work for them.

By working with our partners we aim to have a dozen houses in north and south London let by Catch 22 and Thames Reach on a shared tenancy basis, providing people at risk of becoming homeless with quality and affordable private accommodation, supported by a Peer Landlord. It provides an opportunity for clients to learn from each other, learn the skills required for shared housing, understand the costs and budgets of living in private accommodation and better prepare them for sustaining independent living arrangements in the future while holding down a job.

The Peer Landlord

The Peer Landlord will not be a professional but another service user or ex-service user. They are not being paid to provide any formal support to the lodger. They are there as a positive role model and as someone with a responsibility for making ‘their house’ run smoothly. This is about supportive housing, not supported housing.

Peer Landlords will be trained in key areas such as basic housing management and maintenance awareness, as well as financial literacy – from paying bills to managing money, critical for supporting lodgers and the shared housing model. Example of modules include: Looking after your home; being safe in your home; you and your tenancy; organising your time; utility bills; what’s out there, and; active citizenship.

Prepare to Share

The opportunity to live in a house with a Peer Landlord will be used as a progression opportunity and incentive. Only once clients who are already known to and supported by our partners have demonstrated some progression will they become eligible for this option. As part of the eligibility to this programme, they must ‘prepare to share’: to anticipate the sorts of situations and challenges they will face, and agree in advance to strategies for dealing with them. It provides a formal agreement for sharers and the right to seek help and mediation if either sharer is unhappy with how things are going.

Case study

We like you to hear about the people Commonweal projects support: meet Harry* – a tenant accessing the Peer Landlord project delivered with our partner, Thames Reach

“After a childhood of 49 foster homes, aged 16 I moved into a council flat. In 2008 my pregnant girlfriend and I moved into private rented sector accommodation but sadly our relationship broke down. At the same time my employment contract ended.

“I was defined as ‘non-priority homeless’ so I sofa-surfed until becoming street homeless in April 2012 when I was just 22.

“With prompt intervention from the police and the London Street Rescue (LSR) team at Thames Reach I received practical advice to find accommodation and work. I moved into a hostel for a few months before being referred to the Peer Landlord project, which provides role model peer-support to those moving on from hostels in a supportive accommodation setting.

“I have signed two tenancies for my new home, one as tenant, the second as peer landlord. I enjoy being peer landlord. My responsibilities are so varied. I have motivated my flatmates to agree to sign up for a telephone landline and wi-fi internet and, following my research, we now use a cheaper utility supplier. I communicate with Thames Reach regularly about repairs and I have successfully reminded a flatmate to clear his rent arrears or face the consequences. I am looking forward to attending training that Thames Reach will arrange for all the peer landlords to help them in their role.

“Alongside my move into the Peer Landlord property, which is provided by Commonweal, Thames Reach staff helped me gain employment at Tesco by advising on my CV, informing me about suitable job vacancies and paying towards the cost of photo ID.

“Only now that I am in secure accommodation and employed can I make plans for my future, which include getting a full driving licence and training to be a paramedic.”

* Names have been changed

Project evaluation

Evaluation of this project is being undertaken by a team of researchers at University of York. We expect an initial report to be released in 2014 with a a follow up detailed report in 2015.

In June 2016 Commonweal published an evaluation report reflecting on Phase One of the project, the full report is available here; PL Final Report Combined Version V3 22.4.16 .

A summary report was also published along side the full evaluation featuring contributions from Commonweal, Catch 22 and Thames Reach. The full report is available here; FINAL PEER LANDLORD SUMMARY REPORT OF KEY POINTS AND LEARNING – JUNE 2016 – 8 6 16

Project partners

We are delighted to be testing this innovative model with two leading organisations:

  • Catch 22, delivering a Peer Landlord project for young people
  • Thames Reach, delivering ‘The Peer Landlord London’ project, focused on those moving on from hostels and seeking to secure employment.

Catch 22 Thames Reach