Moving into a new home can be costly for new tenants, something we understand from our own findings and feedback from our tenants, as well as our work with the local authority.
We work with partner organisations we can signpost our tenants to, including Buckinghamshire Council’s Helping Hands scheme and Central Aid, who can offer extra help when they first move in. This can include carpets, furniture and white goods. Where tenants move out and leave good condition white goods behind, we work with Central Aid who collect and redistribute these.
Previously we’ve been unable to allow outgoing tenants to leave floor coverings, due to concerns about hygiene and cross-contamination, and also because responsibility for their upkeep and replacement would fall to us as the landlord, an ongoing cost that we could not meet.
We're part of a partnership group, along with the local authority and other housing associations, where we’ve been discussing this important topic. The council were using a significant proportion of their Helping Hands budget to support new tenants with carpets. Together we agreed that from 1st August we would aim to support our tenants by leaving in place good condition carpets when we let homes.
This has proved to be good timing, as last week the council decided to stop funding carpets through Helping Hands, unless in exceptional circumstances. Our approach will also help the council use their funds to support tenants in other ways.
Our new approach
We are trialling this new approach, so we can see how it works and make any changes needed.
When our property team carry out an inspection before a tenant moves out, they'll make an initial assessment to decide whether we’d like the tenant to leave any of the flooring in place. The team will let the outgoing tenant know, then reassess once they have moved out.
If the flooring meets our required standards, we’ll then offer to gift it to the incoming tenant, who'll need to confirm that they understand we can take no ongoing responsibility, and that they can take out home insurance to cover themselves for any accidental damage.
As well as supporting the work of Buckinghamshire Council we are also reducing the risk to our new tenants of getting into debt or rent arrears when trying to get their new home ready. We'll also be helping to be more sustainable with resources by not disposing of good quality materials.
We're now in further discussions with the council and partner landlords to explore the potential for leaving more items in place if they are in good condition. This will be more complex as we need to consider things such as fire safety regulations, but once we have more information on this we will be consulting with our tenants, since we know ending furniture poverty is something that our Resident Representative Team is passionate about.