Private leasing to ease Council B&B reliance
HOUSING chiefs are to rent out private homes rather than put homeless families up in bed and breakfasts, it has emerged.
A total of £57,854 was spent by East Renfrewshire Council in 2009/10 on providing B&B accommodation for homeless families.
Up to half of all those who declare themselves homeless are temporarily homed in such a way.
According to a report by Communities Scotland, in the same year the council placed 105 people in accommodation outwith its area, but aimed to more than halve its reliance on B&Bs in 2012.
The latest scheme will see a lease agreement taken up between private landlords and the council.
Figures revealed by the Barrhead News last week show that there are currently 2,152 people on a waiting list for council properties in East Renfrewshire,
Housing convener Councillor Danny Devlin said: "East Renfrewshire Council understands the importance of providing good temporary accommodation and support to families at this stressful time.
"The private sector lease scheme will increase the range of options we have to meet the needs of homeless households across East Renfrewshire."
In total there are 27 homeless families in Barrhead who are being housed in temporary accommodation, including 46 children spread across the authority.
More than half of Scotland's councils lease properties from the private sector as a means of reducing the need to use bed and breakfast accommodation for people who are homeless.
At the heart of the scheme is keeping people in their own community, rather than forcing them to re-locate to other parts of the authority to be re-homed.
Councillor Devlin said: "We don't see the point in forcing a family from Barrhead to live in temporary accommodation in Eastwood, for example, meaning that their kids would need to be moved schools.
"There is a large amount of unoccupied private property in the area and it can be better used by the council to try and keep families in their communities, and close to where they come from.
"Overall, we see this as a better solution than using bed and breakfasts where people can't get the same sense of privacy or family well-being as in a private property."
The council is looking to take on one or two-bedroom unfurnished properties throughout East Renfrewshire for a period of two years, with a possible extension of a year.
Bosses say the benefits to landlords of leasing to councils include guaranteed rent in advance, free tenancy management, vacant possession at the end of the lease and the property returned in good order.
The council says it will provide support to tenants and regularly inspect the property and that the leasing scheme should also be self-financing.
This article appeared in Barrhead News 19 Dec 12