Dedicated support hub for PRS tenants opens in Glasgow
Social enterprise letting agent Homes for Good has opened a new office in Glasgow which will include a dedicated support and information hub for tenants in the private rented sector.
The office in the Bridgeton area of the city was formally opened yesterday by Scottish Government housing minister Kevin Stewart.
The new hub will offer regular drop-in sessions for tenants on subjects including financial inclusion, employability, housing and fuel poverty alongside tailored training sessions for local landlords. Just a few doors along, a derelict retail space has been transformed to become Homes for Good’s new headquarters from where it will manage a growing portfolio of properties throughout the central belt and west of Scotland.
Official statistics show that 18% of the population of Glasgow live in private rented accommodation compared to 14% of the Scottish population as a whole now living in the private rented sector.
However, Glasgow City housing stock estimates show 31% of households living in the Bridgeton area of the city are in the private rented sector. This rises to as much as 40% in the neighbouring Merchant City and Dennistoun areas of the city. This high concentration of private tenants is the key reason that Homes for Good has relocated to Bridgeton.
The service joins Govan Law Centre’s Private Rented Tenants Project which has been providing help for tenants all over Glasgow who are experiencing difficulty with their private tenancy, landlord or letting agency putting them at risk of homelessness.
Opening of the new Homes for Good offices, Mr Stewart said: “It’s important that people looking to live in the private rented sector have access to the right information and advice to find a suitable and affordable good quality home. Letting agents have a vital role to play in achieving this and so I very much welcome Homes for Good’s commitment to supporting tenants through a new dedicated advice and information hub.
“A good standard of service is something all tenants and landlords should expect of letting agents. That is why we have a new compulsory code of practice for agents coming into force in a year. This code sets out the standards of practice they must meet and will give tenants and landlords the ability to challenge poor practice. This will help to ensure consistently good standards across the lettings industry and I urge all agents to prepare for this now.”
The development has been supported by a £200,000 investment package from the Resilient Scotland ‘Making Enterprise Happen’ fund, which targets support towards social enterprises, community organisations and charities in Scotland to help them develop and expand their enterprising activities.
Homes for Good’s new offices were officially opened one year to the day before the entry into force of a new statutory code of practice for letting agents in Scotland. Effective from the 31st January 2018, all letting agents operating in Scotland’s private rented sector will need to comply with the new code of practice with the aim of improving overall standards of professionalism and service within the letting industry for the benefit of landlords and tenants.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “It’s great to see Homes for Good, as one of our member agents, continuing to lead the way as it moves to these new offices. Creating a dedicated information and advice hub is a fantastic innovation that will benefit tenants and landlords alike. With a year to go until letting agent regulation, Homes for Good are clearly on the front foot with their preparations – and this move should provide the inspiration for others to follow.”
Established in March 2013, Homes for Good operates as a social business, offering landlords a top-class property service, while reinvesting all profits into helping vulnerable tenants make happy, secure homes in their rented properties.
The company was named Social Enterprise of the Year at the 2016 Scottish Social Enterprise Awards and went on to win the same accolade at last year’s Scottish Business Awards.
Homes for Good director Susan Aktemel said: “After three great years in our previous offices, we decided it was time to move into a place of our own. We chose Bridgeton as our new base because of its convenient location but also since so many people living locally are private renters. We’ve taken over two shop units on Bridgeton Main Street and transformed them into a home from home.
“One will be our business headquarters while in the other, we’ve created Scotland’s first dedicated private rented sector tenants’ support hub. Our ambition is to welcome both our own tenants and the wider community to the new hub and to offer them access to a range of support and advice from our team and a variety of expert partners.”