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Focus on social rentals agencies - Mobilising the Private Sector Through Social Rental Intermediatio

Documents from the event held on 19th February

The report, Ethical Renting – Mobilise the Private Rental Market to Provide Social Solutions in Europe published last month by Fondation Abbé Pierre and FEANTSA, has a dedicated chapter about rental intermediation and shows how it can help provide access to decent and affordable housing for vulnerable people.

Chloé Serme-Morin is the author of the report. The report also includes reflections on rent control and supply policies.

What is social rental intermediation?

Social rental intermediation is a relatively new way of mobilising the private market rental stock for social purposes. The idea is to make some parts of the private rental stock more affordable and accessible to vulnerable people. Landlords who accept to rent their property through a social rental agency at a reasonable price benefit as a counterpart from guarantees regarding rent payment and good maintenance of their property.

A useful and diverse model of ethical renting

The Fondation Abbé Pierre-FEANTSA report presents examples of social rental intermediation in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The modalities of management, the conditions and the guarantees applying to landlords differ from one country to another, together with local variations, but the principle is the same. The third party might be a public authority or a non-profit organisation, often financed through public funding. Conditions include allowing the social rental agency to choose the tenants and apply rent levels inferior to market prices. Guarantees usually involve the social rental agency carrying the financial risks linked to unpaid rents or not finding a tenant themselves and ensuring the maintenance of the property. This might also include restoration work and other incentives such as tax advantages.

Depending on the country, the region or the targeted households, rent contracts are either signed by the social rental agencies or by the tenants themselves, from the beginning or after a trial period. Households may benefit from social support in housing, usually organised by the organisation running the social rental agency.

Key challenge to development

The challenges met by policy makers in designing a social rental intermediation scheme and scaling it up are numerous. They include being able to find the landlords and properties, especially difficult in metropolitan areas, supporting the financial risks linked mainly to rent payment, defining the criteria for eligible tenants coherent with other social and housing policies in order to avoid creating competition between groups of beneficiaries.

The Housing Solutions Platform is organising an event at the European Parliament on 19th February on this topic: “What Role for the Private Market in Fostering Housing Affordability?”, in partnership with the International Union of Property Owners. A meeting report will be uploaded to this page following the event.

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