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LOOKING FOR LANDLORDS ACROSS SEVENOAKS DISTRICT

STEVE SHAW


If you’re a private landlord with a vacant property anywhere in the Sevenoaks District that’s currently available to rent, we’d love to hear from you!


Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees (SWR) is a charity helping to support and resettle refugee families from Syria and elsewhere in our District. Our work is undertaken under the auspices of the Government’s UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS). There are vulnerable refugee families in the countries surrounding Syria, and elsewhere, waiting to travel to the UK just as soon as there is a property available here for them. We need to secure more properties locally as a matter of urgency, and to do this we need the support of local landlords.


An Update on Our Work


Thanks to the generosity of local landlords and other SWR supporters, we are currently helping to resettle four families in our District already. We’re delighted to say that they are all doing very well, making new friends and building their links into the local community. The children are working hard at school and their English is improving all the time.


We've been able to keep our language support programme going (remotely) through the lockdowns, and have been supporting the families also with small financial grants. This financial year, since April 1st 2020, we have spent over £15,000 on refugee support. This includes laptops, tablets, printers, Flash Academy licences for online learning, additional tutoring in mathematics and English, assistance with rent deposit for one individual, travel costs for finding work, and other welfare grants.


Last year, with the kind support of Sevenoaks School, the families were able to publish a fundraiser cookbook called “A Taste of Home” which was full of delicious recipes from Syria. This has proved very popular locally.


With More Landlords On Board, We Can Help More Families


We are hoping to secure at least two more properties this year in the Sevenoaks District and enable other vulnerable refugee families to join the ones that are already here. We are focusing on private landlords because it is important that social housing is kept available for local people in need.


An attractive package is on offer for any private landlord able to help. We make the whole landlord sign-up process very simple and you will have the security of knowing that monthly rental payments will be both reliable and secure. Rental payments can be made direct to you, or your managing agent, by Sevenoaks District Council (SDC).

Landlord Testimonial


Two Sevenoaks residents have been participating landlords in the scheme for over two years and recently told us this:


"We had heard about the UK Resettlement Scheme and owned a rental property which was becoming available. It seemed a good way to make a real difference for a refugee family seeking a new life in the UK. The support from the council and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees has been invaluable in helping the family to settle. These lets are intended to be for the longer term and so landlords avoid all the costs of getting new tenants and the gaps in between lets. We enjoy the stability of the arrangements and the scheme ensures the rent comes in regularly.”


We would be pleased to put you in touch with our existing landlords for a confidential discussion about their experiences with the scheme.


What Types of Property Do We Need?


  • 1-4 bedrooms

  • Self-contained

  • Available for at least 24 months

  • Furnished or unfurnished

  • Close to public transport links


How Much Rent Will I Receive?


Monthly rental payable under the scheme is based on UK Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates. For example, the rate for a 3-bedroom house in Sevenoaks is £1,130 pcm and for a 3-bedroom house in Swanley it's £1,050 pcm.

In addition, the following incentive payments are paid to the landlord annually in advance by Sevenoaks District Council: £1,500 for a 3-bed and above, £1,000 for a 1 or 2-bed and £500 for a studio.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and donors, SWR may also consider making incentive payments to landlords in addition to the amounts mentioned above. SWR may, for example, be able to make a limited contribution towards landlords’ expenses for redecorating etc.


How Do the Tenancy Agreements Work?


The terms are similar to a normal private tenancy agreement:

  • The tenancy agreement is between the landlord and the family

  • Minimum period of two years

  • A cash deposit of up to 6 weeks rent is provided (along with one month's rent in advance)

  • The cash deposit is registered with one of the approved protection schemes

  • Rent is paid monthly in advance at the beginning of each month

  • Rent is paid by the family or can be paid by SDC directly to the landlord or to his/her agent managing the property

  • Rent is paid to the landlord from the time the property is approved for use by SDC, thereby avoiding any ‘void’ period


Who Will Live In My Property?


Your property will be home to a refugee family looking to rebuild their lives following the terrible experience of fleeing war or persecution. They are currently waiting for approval to travel here when a property becomes available. All refugees are vulnerable, but the families who come to the UK will all have been identified as particularly vulnerable by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).


Your property will be matched with a family unit of the right size for the property.


The families will have been screened by both the UNHCR and the Home Office. One of the key elements in the screening process is the need to ensure that women and children are offered safety and will be protected from harm.


From the moment the families arrive in the UK and then travel to Kent they are closely supported by Kent County Council, Clarion Housing Association, Sevenoaks District Council and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees.


What Happens at the End of the Tenancy?


When the family moves out at the end of the tenancy, any claim for repairs or damage to the property would be submitted and paid via the deposit protection scheme.


How Do I Join the Scheme?


We would be delighted to provide any further information you require about the scheme.

If you have a property that meets the above requirements and would like to help a vulnerable refugee family start a new life in the Sevenoaks District, please complete the sign-up form below and we'll be in touch.


Sign up here.


Interested in Volunteering?

Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees is always on the lookout for volunteers to help with Landlord outreach. Specifically we are looking for volunteers with contacts in the housing sector. If you can help us reach more potential landlords then please get in touch with us at sevenoakswelcomesrefugees@gmail.com



A WELCOMING Taste of Home

Eleanor Dewar

As I sit here on a sunny day thinking about all the wonderful things SWR have done and continue to do, I find myself thinking of the appropriate starting point for this News and Blog section. Should I look toward the hard hitting side of our work or something current about Lockdown? Then my husband asked me whether I wanted lunch and that was when it hit me - food.

Food is a language of love and sharing. Food brings us together from quick cups of coffee to celebrations and special events. We all have that one food that makes us feel safe or brings back childhood memories. Indeed one of the first memories I have of SWR is at a meeting where someone had brought home-made hummus and I would have happily eaten the entire tray, it was so delicious.

Food has formed a base for one of our fundraising projects as well, in conjunction with Sevenoaks School, the refugee families have developed a cookbook of Syrian food, A Taste of Home in more ways than one. Details of the cookbook can be found here. For starting this News and Blog section we want to welcome you to the SWR family and what better way to say “Hello” than with a recipe. So from our cookbook here is our offering to you:


SYRIAN FATTOUSH SALAD:

Ingredients

  • 2 pitta breads, khobez or any flatbread

  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • 3 medium cucumbers, roughly chopped

  • 1 medium lettuce (any type), roughly chopped

  • 1 onion, finely sliced

  • 6 medium radishes, finely sliced

  • 1 bunch mint, roughly chopped

  • 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped

  • 1 bunch purslane, roughly chopped

  • 1 tsp sumac (this can be generous)

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine or cider vinegar

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed

  • Salt, to taste


What to do

1. Brush the bread with a little olive oil and toast on both sides in a hot oven for 10 -12 minutes, or until well browned. Rip into pieces.

2. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onion, radishes, mint, parsley and purslane to a large serving bowl. Toss to combine.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and salt.

4. Add half of the toasted bread to the vegetable salad and toss to combine.

5. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

6. Scatter the remaining toasted bread pieces over the salad and sprinkle with sumac.

We hope you will enjoy this delicious salad and that you will buy our fundraiser Syrian cookbook ‘A Taste of Home: Recipes from Syria in our new home Sevenoaks’. It contains 27 delicious, authentic recipes from Syria. The recipes are traditional home-cooking meals from the refugee families who have produced the book together with pupils and teachers from Sevenoaks School. Other popular dishes include the Tabbouleh salad, Kibbeh meatballs and Maqluba (chicken and aubergine). Details including how to buy the cookbook are here.