As the rental market continues to cope with the challenges of Coronavirus, we highlight a company working its landlords to lessen its impact on their tenants.
As a community interest company, Ethical Lettings does good on a regular basis, but the pandemic bought out the best in its landlords too.
The social lettings agency works across Surrey and South West London in partnership with local councils to find affordable rented accommodation for its tenants who are all on benefits or low incomes, reinvesting its profits and funding extra support for those in need to improve their quality of life.
Its staff help with writing CVs, claiming benefits and work with local authority mental health teams.
Paying landlords guaranteed monthly rent in advance, Ethical Lettings is proud of a 98.7% rent collection rate across its 200 properties, but director Georgina Summerfield says before the lockdown she panicked that this would drop to 55% as tenants’ circumstances changed – a predicted £90,000 a month loss.
Wide of the mark
Luckily, it was wide of the mark, says Summerfield. “We’ve been in direct contact with each tenant, working to maximise their income, assisting with benefit claims, accessing Government funding and offering advice on various ways to reduce expenditure.”
And as a result of this hard work, Ethical Lettings’ rent collection rate for April topped 95%.
While its landlords were supportive – agreeing to a change in payment terms from the usual one month in advance to one month in arrears – the company in turn, has supported them.
She explains: “For those who would have experienced financial hardship as a result, we applied for a Government bounce-back loan and also created a landlord hardship fund to ensure they weren’t adversely affected.
“One of our landlords in South Africa couldn’t get hold of her mortgage provider to apply for a mortgage holiday so her rent was paid in full. Another was made redundant herself so her payment was made in full as normal in advance.”
Adds Summerfield: “Our landlords have been amazingly supportive – this crisis has really bought out the best in people.”