News guildhall-council

Wrexham Council could establish their own ‘Local Lettings Agency’ for the County Borough if recommendations are passed.

In a report due to go before the Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, it is recommended Wrexham Council ‘consider the proposal to establish a Local Lettings Agency’. This would involve the Council letting/renting properties on behalf of private landlords, potentially coming into competition with estate agents in the area.

The service would offer ‘suitable’ accommodation for prospective tenants across the County Borough.

At present in Wrexham the private rental sector now accounts for almost 12% of the total stock of housing providing in excess of 6,900 properties and represented by over 930 Landlords.

It is hoped that the creation of a lettings agency would have the potential to ‘play a significant role in meeting housing needs within the County Borough’.

The report notes that the recommendation has been put forward: “To maximise access arrangements into good quality, affordable accommodation within the private rented sector and assist the Local Authority to deliver its homelessness and homeless prevention duties proposed in the Housing (Wales) Bill.”

In Wrexham there are currently 2,232 applicants on the Council’s Housing Register, with around 800 lettings per year. Along with this, in 2012/13 there were 1,687 enquiries from people who were potentially homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The report goes onto to detail ‘Why Establish a LLA’ (Local Lettings Agency), including reasons such as:-
– The PRS (Private Rented Sector) has long been recognised as a source of accomodation for homeless people and those on low incomes
– LLA’s have been established by Local Authorities, RSLs and the voluntary sector to assist people to access and sustain affordable accommodation in the sector
– The rationale for the establishment of the scheme is meeting housing need and discharging homeless duties; however, to be successful and sustainable the scheme needs to be at the least self-financing.

Reference is also made to the Vibrant and Viable Places funding that the Council was granted in February 2014. The report notes: “A significant element of the VVP programme focuses on improvements within the PRS. These include a loan scheme for private sector landlords, a scheme to provide business support for landlords and £100,000 grant in 2014/15 to support the establishment of the LLA. This funding has been factored into the financial model for year one.

“There is scope to utilise some of the funding to provide prospective landlords with small house improvement grants (e.g. up to £4,000 maximum 50 per cent of cost of works whichever is lesser).”

The document itself is quite lengthy and includes a detailed business plan at the end of the report. The full report can be found on the Council’s website here.