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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

How do you feel about furnished tenancies?

16/01/2020


With around 400,000 children in the UK without their own bed to sleep in at night, End Furniture Poverty's Claire Donovan wants to hear from you about how furnished tenancies could help.

The issue of furniture poverty is pressing and desperate.

At End Furniture Poverty we work to understand the causes of furniture poverty so we can help reduce and ultimately eradicate it. We believe that one way to reduce furniture poverty is through the provision of furnished tenancies.

That's why we're launching a major research project to help us to better understand the attitudes and experiences of both social landlords and tenants towards furnished tenancies and to establish how many are currently available or in the pipeline.

The first phase of the research is an online survey for anyone who works in social housing, to help us to accurately estimate the current provision.

This will be followed by in-depth interviews with housing professionals to explore their views on furnished tenancies, along with a number of focus groups with tenants. We’ll also be carrying out desk-based research to pull together all previous studies on the topic so we can produce a comprehensive study.

We understand that furnished tenancies are not right for every tenant, but for those leaving care, fleeing domestic violence, for homeless people, and for many more, moving into an empty property when they have no means to obtain a bed, a cooker, a fridge or anything else, faces them with stark choices. They could either go without or take on unmanageable debt; and if they have a poor credit rating, this could mean the likes of Bright House or doorstep lenders.

A furnished tenancy can provide a fantastic start to a tenancy, creating a real home, somewhere they can feel safe and comfortable, a home that they are happy to invite friends into, where they can build a secure life with a decent standard of living.

We really want to understand why furnished tenancies are significantly more prevalent in the private rental sector than in social housing. If we can understand what the issues and obstacles are, we can help to overcome them.

To assist organisations who are considering furnished tenancies, we have put together a step-by-step guide to creating and sustaining a furnished tenancy scheme. A furnished tenancies guide: how to create a sustainable FT scheme is available on our website and outlines all the benefits of a furnished tenancy scheme for both landlord and tenant. It explains how to set the appropriate service charge, which furniture items should be included, how to fund a furnished tenancy scheme, how to measure the social value created, which policies and procedures need to be considered, and how to obtain board approval.

We know that creating a new furnished tenancy programme in the current climate is huge step. Many organisations are understandably very risk averse, but we believe that risks can be kept to a minimum. Funding does not need to be an issue, when there are options such as leasing or renting which help to avoid any initial major capital spend.

There are many challenges facing all of us in the coming months and years as the pressures of austerity continue and the uncertainty of Brexit looms. As local authorities struggle to balance budgets, many local welfare provision schemes have closed completely, while others only exist with vastly reduced funds.

Our focus is on the social benefits of providing furnished tenancies, but we know that furnished tenancy schemes can also help to reduce void costs and provide a valuable source of revenue for social landlords.

We hope our research will help answer questions about the provision of furnished tenancies and encourage the social housing sector to examine carefully their approach, because many of the most vulnerable in society have nowhere else to turn.

For more information, please get in touch with me at Claire.Donovan@frcgroup.co.uk or on 0151-305 5212.


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