Securing the House
Congratulations, you have found a suitable home for the family! You now need to complete the following steps to secure the property:
- Local Authority Inspection
- Police Consultation Form
- Agreements with the Landlord
- Decide when to start renting
- Complete Application Form
1) Local Authority Inspection
The Local Authority must be invited to inspect the property, to confirm that it is suitable for the refugee family. They may ask you to undertake some small renovations to ensure that it is safe. They should send you a copy of the inspection report (an email attachment is fine), which you will include in your final application.
If the LA refuses to inspect the property, then you may need to pay for a private surveyor to inspect instead.
This may not be required for Housing Association properties, which are already held to strict safety rules & inspections (check with your Home Office contact or Lead Sponsor).
2) Obtaining Confirmation From Safer Neighbourhood Team
Before you enter into any financial agreement, you need to contact your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team to ensure they have no objection to a resettled refugee family being housed at the address. This is usually a formality, and there is only likely to be an issue in areas with high levels of hate crime or far right activity.
Download the Police Consultation Form below. You should complete Part A of the form before sending it on to the local police Safer Neighbourhood Team (or equivalent police team).
Once received, the local police Safer Neighbourhood Team (or equivalent police team) should complete Part B within 7 working days using their local knowledge of any known issues of concern such as community tension/anti-social behaviour/hate crime that could impact the wellbeing/integration of a refugee family into the area, and then email the completed form to the Home Office Security Team at the following address: [email protected]
If you have any questions or feedback on this form or process, please contact the Security team at [email protected]
3) Agreements with the Landlord
Invariably, the terms on which the landlord is offering the property are different for every Group, but in our view, it is important that the landlord is broadly sympathetic to your philanthropic aim. In the case of a purely commercial arrangement, the tenancy could prove difficult.
To be sure, you ought to obtain a letter from the landlord stating that they are happy to rent their property to a refugee family for a minimum of two years at the agreed rental amount. We've attached a template below:
You should agree with the landlord that the tenancy agreement will be between them and the family and that you will get the family to sign the agreement as soon as possible after they arrive in the UK.
Below you will find an example tenancy agreement in English & Arabic.
How will you communicate?
To facilitate independence, ideally the family should communicate and resolve any problems directly with the landlord. However, at least initially, they are likely to have a language barrier. So, consider how you will communicate together.
One solution is to have a whatsapp group with the family, the landlord, an interpreter and accommodation lead:
- Family raises an issue (e.g. broken is broken)
- Interpreter translates
- Landlord explains how they will fix the issue. Accommodation Lead monitors until this is resolved.
When to start the tenancy? Void Costs
Groups should aim to defer the commencement of the tenancy agreement as closely to the family's arrival date as they can. The purpose is to minimise what are known as "Void Costs" i.e. paying rent to a landlord for an empty property.
If your Group secures a property early in the process, we advise to ask the landlord to rent out the property on a short-term basis while you go through the stage described in earlier sections of applying to become a sponsor.
A number of Groups have done this successfully and even helped the landlord to find tenants who are happy with the temporary terms and conditions until the family arrives. Some groups have used Air BnB to meet costs.
The Home Office will pay up to 8 weeks of (actual paid) rent, capped at LHA rate, before the arrival of the family. It takes about 6-8 weeks for the family to arrive in the UK once you are fully approved and matched, so these costs will cover this period. Note that this only covers the rent, and does not include council tax or utility bills. You will need to provide proof of payment (such as a tenancy agreement and bank statement).
Due to increased need for larger properties, the Home Office will reimburse up to 12 weeks for properties with 4 or more bedrooms.