CWR is grateful to the help and support of Cheltenham Borough Council in providing homes for the Syrian refugee families currently resettled in Cheltenham.
We are keen to increase the number of properties that are available by encouraging private sector landlords to also offer homes to refugee families. This would allow more refugees to come to Cheltenham under the Government’s Vulnerable Families Resettlement Programme. The need in particular is for large 3 or 4 bedroom family homes.
The properties will be let and managed on the landlord’s behalf by GARAS, who will carry out the same functions as a private letting agency and who have a long track-record of ensuring that privately rented properties are well looked after.
The following FAQ should help to answer some of the questions you may have. For more information please email email@example.com.
GARAS: Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
GRW: GARAS Resettlement Worker
CWR: Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees
How long does the tenancy have to be for?
The Home Office requires at least a 2 year tenancy agreement.
Who pays the rent?
The rent is paid by the council.
What amount of rent will be paid?
The rent paid will be the local housing benefit allowance – The amount depends on the size of the property i.e. how many bedrooms it has. Details are available.
When do I start getting paid rent?
Once the property is accepted, GARAS take on the property and the landlord hands over the keys. The property will immediately go into the Home Office system and the void cover for rent will begin. Payment is made once the Landlord or letting Agent invoices Garas and the invoice has been checked.
How long will it take for a family arrive?
The aim is to bring the family over within 6-8 weeks, however it could be longer e.g. longest GARAS have had to wait for a property to be occupied is 4 months. There are many factors that can delay a family from arriving e.g. visa issues, ill health.
Will I lose out on rent while I wait for the family to arrive?
No, because the Home Office will cover any void period.
How will I communicate with the family if they don’t speak English?
Landlords and letting agents will communicate with the family via the GRW. They will have a direct contact number.
Does the house have to be furnished?
No, GARAS receives a budget from the Home Office to furnish the property.
Does the private property have to be unfurnished?
What happens if a landlord wishes to let a furnished property and it doesn’t need to be re-decorated?
This is fine. The property will be accepted as it is.
Will health and safety of the property be checked?
Environmental Health will do an inspection of the property to make sure all health and safety standards have been met.
Will a private landlord be required to comply with any regulations beyond what a council is required to?
Not that GARAS is aware of.
How will the family manage the property?
The GRW, supported by CWR, will help the family to manage all aspects of the property.
How will I know the property is going to be accepted?
GARAS will come to take a look at the property, and if all seems fine and Environmental Health give the ok, then Garas can put it into the Home Office system. Garas will advise the landlord once the property is in the system.
What happens with Council Tax including void periods?
Any Council Tax paid by the landlord during the void period, will be paid back to the landlord by Garas. The Landlord or Letting Agent invoice GARAS, Garas reimburse the landlord and the Home Office reimburse Garas.
When will this be paid?
Once the Landlord or letting Agent has invoiced Garas and the invoice has been checked.
What about Insurance and risk of damage?
The families don’t buy insurance. GARAS does not pay deposits. In the tenancy it is agreed that any damage done by the tenants will be paid for by them.
Can anything be done to re-assure landlords about recouping any costs as the result of deterioration in the property, fixtures or fittings caused by accident or abuse?
The normal Tenant- Landlord Agreement applies. There would be verbal reassurance from the GRW, stating that any damage done by the tenants would be covered by the tenants (this should be stated in the tenancy agreement too). Any damage not the fault of the tenants, for example a structural issue with the house, the landlord would be responsible for.
Do the payments continue to the landlord during the change over?
Yes. The payments will be made directly to the landlord either from the council, or the tenants.
What guarantees are in place for a landlord who wishes to recover their property after 2 years?
They have the same guarantees any that any landlord would have. If the tenancy contract finishes after 2 years and the Landlord does not wish to renew the contract with the tenants the tenants are required to leave. Garas will arrange a change of accommodation.