Edinburgh tackles homelessness and empty homes with Private Sector Leasing scheme
Private landlords and other property owners left with empty homes in Edinburgh due to coronavirus are being encouraged to help local people and families in critical housing need through a new scheme which aims to provide a better alternative to other forms of temporary homeless accommodation.
With the Private Sector Leasing (PSL) scheme, delivered by Link Group Ltd, landlords can lease their properties to the City of Edinburgh Council for up to five years with guaranteed rent, even if the property is empty through no fault of their own.
Link is also looking to purchase empty homes from landlords or property owners, including those which have until now been used as short-term lets.
A landlord with Link PSL, Mrs M, said: “My flat became empty just after lockdown, I contacted Link PSL, who responded quickly and, whilst adhering to all Scottish Government precautions, we leased the flat.
“The property is now tenanted, providing someone with a safe home.”
Another landlord, Ken, added: “Link’s PSL scheme is a godsend for landlords looking for trouble free management.
“I have half of my property portfolio on the scheme and this is the half I can most relax with.
“There are no voids, rents are paid three months in advance without fail and there are no issues regarding getting your property back at the end of the contract. Staff are professional, courteous and helpful.
“I have been a landlord for almost 20 years and can honestly say Link PSL has saved me through each property downturn.”
A total of 100 tenancies were created from when lockdown began to May 8 and the scheme is now expanding under a new contract with the council, as agreed by councillors in January.
The scheme provides housing when people are in need, vastly reducing the need for temporary bed and breakfast accommodation.
Link Group commercial director, Colin Culross, said: “During the coronavirus outbreak, many people are feeling the financial burden of empty homes that would otherwise be for sale or rent through a letting agent or Airbnb style holiday let.
“The PSL scheme is a welcome solution for Edinburgh landlords with buy to let mortgages currently seeking financial support or mortgage payment holidays due to a lack of rental income.
“More than 1,000 landlords are already receiving guaranteed rent through PSL, which has been operating successfully for over a decade.
“The scheme is now expanding to offer an ISO accredited maintenance service used for Link’s own properties for the past seven years, with excellent customer satisfaction and value for money.
“Both landlords and tenants benefit from the scheme thanks to the quality of Link’s PSL team and the financial support of the council.
“I would urge any landlords or property owners to get in touch to find out how the scheme could help them, now or in the future.”
City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said: “We have a shortage of affordable housing in Edinburgh and we urgently need to increase our city’s supply of safe, warm and much-needed homes. As soon as it’s safe to do so, we’ll be progressing our ambitious plans to build 20,000 new homes in the coming years, but we also need to work together as a city on short-term solutions.
“This scheme offers a solution for private landlords who are unable to receive rental income during the pandemic, but more importantly for the city it increases the number of homes available to people experiencing homelessness. We’d love to see many of the properties that had been used as short term lets returning to their proper use as homes.
“The current crisis has enabled us to provide emergency shelter to people without a home in hotels and short-term lets – properties which we’d otherwise be unable to use. We need to continue this joint working to help our most vulnerable and increase the accommodation on offer in our city for residents in need.
“Many landlords will be struggling to make an income during the pandemic but our scheme with Link provides guaranteed rent to owners now and for years to come. For the thousands of properties, we know have been used as holiday lets, this is also a chance to rebalance the market and for owners to return these properties to their proper use as homes.”
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