Guest columnist Johanna Russell, Project Manager at Greater Manchester Ethical Lettings Agency Let Us writes:
Let Us, the Greater Manchester Ethical Lettings Agency, is excited to be partnering with Resonance to deliver a substantial volume of housing for people who really need a place to call home.
Let Us is a group of 5 housing providers (Salix Homes, Bolton at Home, Stockport Homes Group, Wigan Council and Forhousing), formed by Greater Manchester Housing Providers partnership, working together to increase access to affordable homes in the private rented sector across the region. The partners work with landlords large and small, providing straightforward lease and management options to increase the number of properties available to meet housing need in Greater Manchester. Homes are rented at affordable levels to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Greater Manchester has been experiencing growing demand for affordable homes; in 2019, 97,000 households were waiting for a social home, over 26,000 of these households were identified in priority need and more recently over 2,000 households in temporary accommodation are waiting for a permanent home. Sadly, the rates of homelessness have been continually increasing for a variety of reasons including a lack of affordability and insecurity, having a serious impact on individuals; at the beginning of November a news story circulated nationwide about an elderly woman sleeping alone on the streets of Manchester. This pulled on the heartstrings of many and highlighted once again the impact of the housing crisis.
Development of new affordable homes cannot keep up with the rate of demand, and the availability of affordable and social rented homes has been reducing due to decreased turnover and sales through schemes such as Right to Buy. This has resulted in increasing reliance on private sector housing, but as rents have been rising steeply in the region fewer and fewer suitable homes are available.
Throughout the years, Let Us partners, and much of the housing sector have worked hard to prevent and reduce homelessness, but the barriers to providing enough affordable homes continue to grow. The partnership between Let Us and Resonance offers a real solution to these challenges. Resonance will acquire and refurbish properties and will lease the properties to Let Us for an initial period of 10 years. Let Us can then offer homes to households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The process of acquiring and refurbishing properties is much quicker than developing new homes, so properties will be made available to tenants much sooner. The refurbishment standards expected by Resonance and Let Us will ensure that properties are of a good quality for the residents who live there. The housing providers who are part of Let Us will manage properties throughout their leases, so tenants will have peace of mind that their landlord is an experienced and credible housing provider, and the strength of their local knowledge and networks will ensure that tenants have access to a variety of advice and support if needed. Properties will be let to tenants at rent levels which are affordable even to those who require support from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. 10-year leases will enable tenants to feel settled in their homes and able to put down roots in their local communities.
The opportunity to work with Resonance will be the first partnership of this scale for Let Us. Every partner behind Let Us hopes it will transform the private rental lettings landscape.
We thank Resonance for leading the way by investing in homes and partnering with Let Us to really make a difference, and we encourage other investors and landlords to follow suit. . It just goes to prove that investors can invest in a fund that can change the country for the better.
Lee Sugden Chief Executive of Salix Homes and Chair of Let Us said:
“We’re proud to be working in partnership with this significant fund which will help secure properties for people who really need a place to call home. Not only will this investment provide safe, high-quality homes which provide the foundation for a happy and successful life, it is also a real seal of approval for an initiative like Let Us, creating ethical private lettings on this scale.
“It is just another example of how Greater Manchester is coming together in its mission to tackle homelessness and I’m sure this fund will provide another big step forward.”
John Williams, Resonance’s Investment Director and Head of Property Funds says: “In Greater Manchester alone over 80,000 people are waiting on social housing lists leaving many at risk of homelessness. The impact of COVID-19 means even more people in the North West could find themselves experiencing hardship and housing insecurity, so we are delighted that the fund’s first partnership is with Greater Manchester’s ethical lettings agent Let Us who have a long-established reputation for successfully managing tens of thousands of homes across the region. We look forward to combining our complementary strengths and experiences across property management and investment. We are also thankful for our initial investors into the fund: Big Society Capital, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Pension Fund – the first pension fund to invest in a Resonance property fund. Our investors will enable the fund to tackle the urgent issue of homelessness in the region, making a real difference to people’s lives.”
The partnership with Resonance represents a significant milestone in creating the change needed to develop a housing market in Greater Manchester that truly offers a range of options for people in all situations. If any landlords across GM want to make the most of their property portfolio while helping their area thrive, find out more about Let Us.
Find out more about the National Homelessness Property fund 2:
Johanna Russell, GM Ethical Lettings Agency Project Manager
Johanna is the Project Manager for Let Us, The Greater Manchester Ethical Lettings Agency. A homelessness trailblazer, Jo took this role after holding 15 years of experience in strategic housing and policy, project management and public sector work to contribute to innovation and change in public services. Jo’s dedication to ensuring everyone has access to great homes can be seen in her being a member of the Board for The Fair Housing Futures Partnership, which are investing £1.2 million in improving the experience of renting for vulnerable tenants in Greater Manchester.
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