As a Christian charity, we believe that there should always be ‘room at the inn’. Sadly, one of the biggest hurdles that we face in helping refugee families integrate into our community is a lack of accommodation. At the moment there is, quite literally, a desperate need for homes suitable for Afghan families who were evacuated by the British government in 2021 when the Taliban seized power.
The Afghan families we support on the resettlement scheme arrive with Indefinite Leave to Remain, giving them the right to work, and the right to access the NHS and the benefits system. The main limiting factor we face when it comes to our ability to welcome families through this scheme is the cost of housing in this area. Therefore, although we have the capacity to support more families, the nature of the housing market in this area means that, fundamentally, a lack of affordable housing is the only barrier to them arriving here and being able to re-settle with their families.
It’s time to dispel some myths
What is the truth about refugees?
- They are here legally and have access to public funds
- They are allowed to work
- They can claim housing benefit and other welfare support
- They usually don’t have a guarantor
Why should a landlord rent a property to a newly arrived refugee?
For many of us, the idea of leaving everything behind and fleeing to an unknown country is something that we will, hopefully, never have to experience. The stress, upheaval and loss experienced by refugees is unimaginable. So, a compassionate landlord can make the transition and process of settling in the UK far easier.
Having a home enables refugees to integrate, find work, pay taxes, and continue to contribute to society. It allows them to rebuild the lives that they had to leave behind.
The refugee families that ICN works with are respectful, grateful, and take good care of the homes that they are provided with.
Why is it so difficult to find housing?
It’s not that there is a shortage of 2 or 3 bedroom properties to rent in Dorset, it’s just that they are inaccessible to refugee families because:
- Many landlords are unwilling to accept tenants who claim benefits
- Large, upfront fees and deposits are required (approximately £1800 for a 2 bedroom house; deposit, first month’s rent in advance, agency fees)
- A guarantor is required
I’m a landlord. How can I help?
ICN is always on the lookout for compassionate landlords who are willing to rent their properties to refugee families.
Although initially this family would be on benefits, BCP Council can offer discretionary financial incentives to landlords and they would be comprehensively supported by ICN in all regards, including helping them maintain their tenancy well. Below is an interview with Martin, who manages a property currently rented to an Afghan family under our care. He speaks of his experience meeting the family themselves, but also of working alongside ICN as we provide the wraparound family support and facilitate any communication necessary with landlords.
We also spoke with Janet, a representative from a local church who rent their manse to an Afghan family.
How can ICN help landlords?
ICN is happy to recommend tenants and facilitate interpretation where necessary so you can communicate effectively.
Although it is your responsibility to manage your property, we provide ongoing support with regular visits. This means that you can feel assured that there is someone there to oversee any potential vulnerabilities and ensure that your tenant can maintain their tenancy. Below is an interview filmed at the ICN offices with Rachael (Community Support Manager) and Anna (Refugee Resettlement Support Worker). This goes into further detail around how we support landlords as well as families as they settle.
If you know of anyone who may have a suitable property available in the next few months, we would love to explore it as an option. If you want to get in touch please contact Rachael Sawers on 01202 589395 or email@example.com .