Ukrainians face homeless future in UK thanks to tenancy bureaucracy | Immigration and asylum
Ukrainians hosted by Britons under the Homes for Ukraine scheme face a crumbling ‘cliff edge’ of support at the end of their placement and could be prevented from renting privately, refugee organizations have warned.
They say stringent checks on potential tenants that require proof of income and other documents could prove impossible for many refugees to pass.
Opora, an aid network for Ukrainians who moved to the UK, said he had already been contacted by families who were excluded from the private rental market after failing listing checks.
Some have been asked for proof of work or tax history going back years despite only having moved here since Putin’s invasion. Even those with stable jobs in the UK and large savings that have never been in debt have found themselves stranded.
Dmytro Chapovski, a software engineer from Lviv in western Ukraine, and his wife, Polina, a psychotherapist, came to Britain in April under the Homes for Ukraine program and stayed with a couple in Shrewsbury , Shropshire.
Chapovski, 33, and his host, Janet Duchesne, contacted 12 agencies across the southeast but were “blank-tipped leaving agents they had no chance of letting into this country”, said said Duchesne.
Eventually, an agency in Leighton Buzzard agreed to rent the couple a three-bedroom home, but despite meeting salary requirements, a third-party SEO company turned them down. Although he had seven years of bank statements showing he had never been in debt, he says he was told he had to provide proof of income and UK tax history – or 12 months rent in advance.
In another case, a Ukrainian family contacted every agent they could find in south-east London and Kent. Some of the agencies refused to proceed because the family had universal credit, saying the homeowner’s insurance would not qualify the occupants for benefits, while others asked for a guarantor earning more than £40,000 , which they did not have.
While only a small number of refugees have been affected so far, thousands could be hit by the hurdles in the coming months as placements organized under the Homes for Ukraine program come to an end. Sponsors were required to host refugees for at least six months. While placements may continue, many will end.
Stanislav Beneš of the Opora network urged the government to act now to avoid problems, calling for advice and incentives for landlords and a dedicated guarantor system to make renting easier for Ukrainians.
Without action, people who have fled war risk becoming homeless, he said. “It will overstretch existing resources that are already overstretched, which means more and more people will start to fall through the cracks.”
Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said it was “completely unacceptable” that Ukrainian refugees were struggling to rent privately and called on the government to “explore expanding access to rental schemes in private rent”, which would provide assistance with deposits or negotiation with landlords.
“We need to see more understanding and compassion for the fact that many Ukrainians will not be able to rack up exorbitant deposits or provide UK payslips if their job is in their home country” , did he declare.
Sophie Delamothe, policy and public affairs manager at Generation Rent, a campaign group, said: “There is so much information you have to provide that people who have just arrived in this country as refugees might not have access to them.”
The National Association of Residential Landlords said some landlords keen to support Ukrainian refugees had “encountered obstacles” beyond their control, including “when seeking permission from mortgage providers and insurers.”
This comes as official figures reveal that hundreds of Ukrainian families have been left homeless in England after arriving on visas designed to secure them accommodation. Since the end of February, at least 480 Ukrainian families with children and 180 single adults have applied to homelessness councils, the Guardian reported last week.
Rental prices have increased in recent months. Rents paid by tenants in the UK rose by 2.7% in the 12 months to April, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics – but in parts of London and other major cities, the year-over-year increase reached 22%.
A spokesman for the Department of Land, Housing and Communities said: “More than 77,200 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since Putin’s invasion and the vast majority are staying with sponsors or relatives. . We are monitoring this situation carefully and will work with the whole of government and with landlords to ensure that Ukrainians receive the help they need.