A housing charity in Surrey has launched the UK’s first lettings agency solely for homeless people and is hoping to find partners around the UK keen to replicate what it does.
The first location is within a high street premises only recently vacated by Hampton International in the town of Walton-on-Thames.
Rentstart, which helps homeless people in Surrey find accommodation with practical advice and support, has made the bold decision to open its own lettings agency on Walton-on-Thames’ high street.
To most people who pass by, the branch with its smart entrance and funky furniture looks like any of the other lettings agencies in the area including, next door, a Martin & Co branch.
“I thought ‘why don’t we seize the high street back for us? And why don’t we make our clients have the best experience? We’re making a stand about it, saying ‘come in’, removing the stigma and being proud of who we are,” Rentstart Chief Executive Helen Watson (left) told The Guardian.
The charity has approximately 450 homeless people who approach it each year either directly or after being referred by local authority Elmbridge Borough Council. It places approximately 150 tenants with the 30 local private landlords it works with.
“The reason for the shopfront was not just about more people knowing about us. It is also about encouraging the whole community to come in, not just people who need support,” says Watson.
“It makes us more attractive to local landlords and volunteers as well as clients.”
Watson says her letting agency is looking for more landlords to help cope with expanding demand for its services. For more information visit its website.