Buy to let landlords have been urged to let to Syrian refugee families following councils’ concern that there were not enough homes for them.
An acute housing shortage in London has led to the Refugees Welcome campaign relying upon landlords in the private rental sector as opposed to merely social housing.
The official government programme has resulted in town halls pledging to take in Syrian families, however this can only happen once homes are made available for them. Dr Rachael Burke, a representative from Lambeth Welcomes Refugees, has called for landlords to accept slightly lower rents to accommodate for the fact that the councils pay housing benefit rates below the standard market price.
She said: ‘We need to find landlords that will take tenants at what is generally around 15 per cent less than the market rate. I don’t think people particularly know that this is what the hold-up is getting refugees over here from the camps.’
Nine families from Jordan refugee camps have moved to Lambeth under the vulnerable person resettlement programme, with the borough agreeing to taking 23 more refugee families.
Katie Barlow recently let her Brixton flat to a family of refugees. She said: ‘I will never forget the look of exhaustion and relief on the mother’s face as she carried her two-year-old sleeping son through the front door and lay him down on the little children’s bed, and the joy I felt that I was able to provide a place where his parents felt he was safe. Today, for the first time, I feel proud to be a landlady. Landlords have to be willing to take an approximately 15 per cent cut in rental income; but in return they can live with the knowledge that they are helping a vulnerable family resettle away from the horrors and dangers of the ongoing crisis in Syria.’
Chairwoman of London Councils, Claire Kober, said: ‘Londoners have already been incredibly generous, but we now need more houses for Syrian refugees to call home. If you have an empty property in London that you’d be willing to rent out, I urge you to contact your council. You may not have let the property out before but – if it is filled – your generosity could make a huge difference to a refugee family.’