Buy to Let

Shelter and First Direct launch renter support service

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

Customers will be offered support and advice on rental issues, from unaffordable rent increases to dealing with an eviction notice

First Direct has partnered with housing and homelessness charity Shelter to launch a renter support initiative, Home from Home.

The service will provide free expert housing advice to customers who are private renters in the UK.

How does it work?

Private renters can access free support with issues they’re facing in their tenancy, like unaffordable rent increases and being served with an eviction notice.

As part of the new partnership, a set of dedicated team members from First Direct will be trained to work alongside experts from Shelter to offer customers support and advice. The scheme will help First Direct customers to access specialist support with housing, debt and welfare issues, with the goal of helping more people to find and keep hold of a safe home.

Why is it needed?

Private rents are now at record highs, said First Direct, with the latest figures from the ONS showing that as of August 2022 private rents in England have increased by 3.4% in the last year.

According to Shelter, private renters are also more vulnerable to financial shocks, as almost half have no savings. The charity’s previous research also reveals that every seven minutes, another private tenant in England is handed an eviction notice by their landlord.

Over 270,000 people in England were homeless last year, and this number is likely to increase over the next 12 months. In the first three months of this year alone, over 74,000 households in England became homeless or were at imminent risk of homelessness – an 11% rise on the previous quarter. And the loss of a private tenancy is now the second leading trigger of homelessness in England.

Chris Pitt, CEO at First Direct said: “No-one should face the prospect of homelessness. Our partnership with Shelter aims to support private renters who find themselves in difficulty. We believe that our customers should feel they can come to us for help when they need it.

“Our dedicated team and the experts from Shelter will be taking a hands-on approach to tackling the difficulties many private renters are facing as landlords pass on the costs of rising bills and mortgage payments. This is just part of the support we’re offering customers during this difficult time.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “Rising rents and spiralling living costs are pushing more struggling renters to the brink of homelessness. Every day we help people to find or keep hold of a safe home, and our work is as critical as ever.

“Our partnership with first direct will help their customers access vital housing advice and support at a time when they need it most. It will also help our frontline services continue providing free and expert support to thousands of other people facing homelessness, as well as helping us campaign for lasting change.”