Thursday, 22 February 2018
Uncovering a bit of Good
While searching online for landlords locally who might be willing to accept tenants claiming benefits on behalf of someone I've been working with for a long while, I came across the website of a company based in Hornington - let's call them Ariel Lettings. They were clearly at least partly a property management company but also had a section of the website for tenants and I couldn't quite work out their business model, so I decided to pop round and visit them. I hadn't phoned up first so they were very surprised anyone had made it along the lane off the High Street to their office, identified only by a sign next to the ground floor doorbell, but kindly spoke to me for a few minutes. They're a not-for-profit enterprise that offers private landlords a management service and also guarantees rents in order to make it easier to place tenants who are homeless, vulnerably housed, or on benefits. They have quite a wide portfolio of properties across ten local authority areas, including some shared houses in Woking, Guildford and elsewhere which are projects directly supported by the councils. Once tenants are in place, Ariel can offer other sorts of support, helping them achieve advances in their situation (such as getting a tenant onto a catering course). I mentioned the case that led me to discover them in the first place, but potential tenants have to be referred to Ariel by the local authority housing department, so it's up to them to decide whether a particular individual is a priority. I was encouraged that an organisation like this exists locally, but wary of the fact that, as so often, the Council is the gatekeeper to effective help.