The Importance of Social Lettings Agencies

The Importance of Social Lettings Agencies

Over the last few years, there has been a new type of letting agency quietly emerging within the industry. It specialises in an area of the housing market that landlords and tenants struggle with; affordable housing.

Agencies such as Developing Health & Independence’s social lettings agency, Home Turf Lettings, support landlords to successfully lease their properties to tenants on low income; safe in the knowledge that their property will be well-maintained and their rent will be paid on time and in full. In addition, all parties are provided with security of tenure.

What is the problem?

The housing crisis is regularly featured in the local and national news, but what exactly is the issue? In a nutshell, people who are on a low income are faced with a very real struggle to find an affordable, long term home of a good quality, especially in cities such as Bath and Bristol which remain highly desirable places to live.

This problem has arisen as a result of several factors, including;

  • A limited supply of traditional social housing as a result of the popularity of ‘Right to Buy’ and insufficient replacement of these properties with newly built homes
  • Unaffordable and ever-rising rents in the Private Rented Sector (ARLA Propertymark’s most recent survey of their members showed that almost 48% of landlords requested an increase in rent in August. See:
  • The perceived lack of security within the Private Rented Sector as a result of non-fault evictions: the average tenancy length is currently 21 months, which is at an all-time high, and suspected to remain so as a result of the current pandemic and the stay on evictions. Being in a home for less than two years can be very challenging, especially when you need access to family for support for childcare, or are applying for schooling

The difficulties in accessing appropriate, affordable accommodation often lead to people becoming homeless, being in inappropriate housing (which could be overcrowded or unaccommodating of the needs of the tenant) or finding themselves in temporary accommodation or hostels.

What are the solutions?

There are two predominant solutions to the issue which many of us are currently facing:

The first is to build more social housing, which will offer long term, affordable accommodation to those on low incomes and in housing need. Many Housing Associations are making the building of such homes a priority, but are met with a variety of obstacles including competing with larger, more influential house builders for land and the lengthy planning process involved. Whilst building new homes is certainly beneficial, the supply of completed social rented homes in the UK per annum has significantly decreased in recent years.

This brings us onto our second solution, which is to make better use of the current housing stock that we have available within the Private Rented Sector via social lettings agencies.

What is a social lettings agency?

Social lettings agencies such as DHI’s Home Turf Lettings (HTL) are a hybrid model of a traditional high street lettings agency, and an affordable housing provider, such as a Local Authority, creating an ’ethical lettings agency’ motivated by social impact rather than profit.

Social lettings agencies set their rents in line with the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which are based on the 30% percentile in each Broad Market Rental Area (BMRA) – effectively making three out of every ten properties accessible to those in receipt of financial support relating to their housing.

Social lettings agencies work in a very similar way to a residential letting agent in that:

  • They source appropriate tenants for the landlord’s property
  • They undertake all of the referencing, drawing up and executing of the tenancy agreement, and receiving and registering the security deposit
  • Just as with a ‘full management’ service, they liaise directly with the tenant for any necessary repairs or statutory compliance checks, and undertake periodic inspections
  • They manage the check-out process, including any deposit negotiation

Home Turf Lettings offers the service expected of a traditional lettings agency. But they also:

  • Work in partnership with landlords to offer a comprehensive range of services such as guaranteed rent for the duration of the agent and landlord relationship, even during void periods
  • Offer a leasing option whereby the landlord lets directly to the letting agent on a lease similar to a commercial lease, meaning that the letting agent will then take on some of the obligation and costs for internal repairs and statutory compliance
  • The leasing option then allows the rental property to become more of a passive income for landlord, which compares favourably to market rents in the medium term once the service offer is factored into the cost benefit analysis
  • Longer term leases between the landlord and agent which offer an unrivaled security of tenure for both the landlord and the tenant
  • Offer a unique blend of expertise, with team members having extensive experience in the Private Rented Sector, tenancy support and sustaining affordable tenancies
  • Enable the landlord to make a social impact; providing their tenants with a high quality, long term home for up to five years (or longer if the landlord renews). This supports the tenants by giving them a stable foundation from which they can build their lives and start to achieve their potential.

Social letting agencies are also able to take part in exciting and innovative projects thanks to partnerships with Local Authorities, charities, and businesses. Developing Health & Independence are proud to be part of the East Street Mews project which will create eleven contemporary apartments – desperately needed housing provision for disadvantaged young people in Bristol. Once completed, the property will be managed by Home Turf Lettings, who will have an office on site at Bedminster Parade.

How can you get involved?

If you are a landlord, have recently inherited a home and are unsure what to do next, or are looking to purchase a rental property, we would love to talk to you about our service and how we can work together. We can provide you with a guaranteed, hassle-free income, and provide a local individual or family with a long-term home.

Our team have a wealth of experience and are able to advise on a wide range of lettings queries, from legislation to repairs, tenancy agreements to move outs, and will be happy to guide you through our leasing process and put together a package which works for you, your needs and your property.

Contact us on 0117 301 2560 or email

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