Homes for Ukraine

Propertymark issues guidance on Homes for Ukraine scheme

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, outlines the industry body’s response to the rise in practitioners receiving enquiries about accommodating refugees as it enhances its FAQ document to assist practitioners with the information they need.

With more than 100,000 people registering with the Homes for Ukraine scheme and over eight million people homeless in Ukraine, we know how important it is that all parties involved understand how it works including the impact on mortgage requirements, leasehold restrictions in flats and contents insurance. Under the scheme, people sponsoring refugees are required to commit to the scheme for a minimum of six months and provide rooms or a whole property for individuals or families to stay in.

One of the main questions asked by estate agents is whether Right to Rent checks will need to be carried out. Until further information is provided by the UK Government, we understand that no Right to Rent checks need to be done as “no rent is being charged”.

This advice has not yet been fully confirmed by the UK Government as the Home Office would normally expect Right to Rent checks to be undertaken against any adult individual who was occupying a property in England, irrespective as to their liability for rent.

Individual sponsors who want to provide homes, or a spare room rent free for as long as they are able with a minimum stay of six months in return, will receive an ex-gratia payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months which will be made in arrears. Where tenants want to offer up a room then they will need the consent of the landlord and the UK Government will carry out checks that the landlord’s permission has been given.

For those who own properties through a limited company there could be adverse tax implications in offering a home to a refugee under the scheme as currently published. Proper independent advice should be sought before proceeding.

If rent is charged, even a top up to the £350, agents must be aware that this would grant tenancy rights and likely create a tenancy resulting in compliance with all the associated legal requirements. Legal interpretation means that rent does not have to be “money” in the accepted meaning of the term. It can be “monies worth”. In theory, this could include the provision of services by a guest such as gardening or decorating which might then be treated as a rental payment.

The accommodation must be fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. Sponsors are not expected to cover the costs of food and living expenses.

The UK Government has recently clarified that under licensing schemes where housing is being used as accommodation for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, local authorities are being asked to take a pragmatic approach to requiring these properties to be licensed. For Houses in Multiple Occupation, because no rent is payable for accommodation under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the UK Government does not expect councils to require such accommodation to obtain an HMO licence.

Where a host does not want to continue the arrangement beyond six months, they should let the guest know in plenty of time (ideally two months) so other arrangements can be made.

We continue to monitor developments in Ukraine and are working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to feed in ongoing issues and feedback from Propertymark members.

A free download of the FAQs can be found here: www.propertymark.co.uk/resource/faqs-homes-for-ukraine.html

As well as the in-depth FAQs, Propertymark hosted a webinar in partnership with Dutton Gregory solicitors where Robert Bolwell, Senior Partner looked to answer agents’ questions. A recording of the webinar can be watched here:

To support agents, Dutton Gregory has also produced a licence agreement with Ukrainian and Russian translations being made available:

Donations to the Property United for Ukraine appeal can be made here: www.justgiving.com/campaign/PropertyUnitedForUkraine

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