An Edinburgh property agency has introduced a new initiative to get those rendered homeless into private accommodation.
Orchard and Shipman’s Letfirst scheme is a public-private partnership with Edinburgh City Council. The scheme gives those who are on the council housing list the opportunity to access affordable rented accommodation.
Prospective tenants are paired with private landlords who agree to drop the initial deposit on a property, which typically amounts to a month’s rent. In return, landlords are guaranteed a reference from Orchard and Shipman with no upfront administration fees and an assurance that the tenants’ rent will be covered if the payment cannot be met.
“We are delighted at how successful the shop has been,” said John Taylor, Chief executive of Orchard and Shipman.
“Having a city centre presence, and a place where people can just drop in and chat to our staff has made a massive difference. Not only do applicants get instant advice and guidance but the application process has been speeded up too which means that people can move into properties of their choice very quickly. This success means we need plenty more properties and are always searching for landlords to join the scheme.”
Since the Morrison Street shop opened in 2009, the Letfirst scheme has helped 250 people into housing. Due to the high demand, the shop has had to increase the number of staff working there. Initially, the scheme had just 17 properties on its books. That number has now risen to 220. As well as housing, the scheme also provides tenants with advice on welfare and benefits.
Earlier this year Orchard and Shipman were awarded agency of the year by the Sunday Times Property Awards, and their pioneering Letfirst scheme is now a model used throughout the UK.