Council initiatives in Cheshire West to help people on low incomes find a home have been recognised in Whitehall.
They have seen the borough’s measures involving private rented properties commended by the Government.
It has been revealed council leader Samantha Dixon (Lab, Chester City) had written to the Government about the council’s support for people with limited means who are having particular housing problems.
Improving access to the private rented sector is said to be ‘of growing importance’ to providing homes for people unable to gain social renting.
But the ‘many barriers’ currently preventing homeless people finding private rented properties include prohibitively expensive deposits, rents, fees, and reluctance among many landlords to rent to vulnerable tenants.
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, believes 55% of landlords in the private rented sector are unwilling to let to tenants in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit and more than 80% are reluctant to rent to homeless people.
Cllr Dixon said: “In Cheshire West we have done a lot to develop and maintain a meaningful relationship with private landlords.
“We support a biannual landlord forum in partnership with the National Landlords Association and we are delivering an annual landlord training programme as well as giving landlords access to information via our quarterly landlord newsletter.”
To help improve access for some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents the council says it has also developed a help to rent scheme.
Called the private landlord service the move helps landlords who support the long term sustainability of private sector tenancies.
Cllr Dixon added: “We have found that working closely with landlords helps to de-risk the private rented sector and support homeless people, vulnerable tenants and landlords to make the private sector a viable option.”
Replying to Cllr Dixon in a letter, housing and homelessness minister Heather Wheeler (Con, South Derbyshire) said: “I would like to commend the work being undertaken in Cheshire West to improve access to the private rented sector and to develop meaningful relationships with private landlords.
“We recognise that such work is an important part in both preventing and supporting people’s recovery from homelessness.”
The borough council says it provides support for residents who feel they are in danger of becoming homeless or who have housing problems with over 2,000 people benefiting over the past year ensuring they maintain a safe place to live.
Help and support is available by contacting the West Cheshire Homes team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0300 123 2442.