Ukrainian Refugee

My tenants want to use the spare room to offer up to a refugee from Ukraine. Would there be any implications to letting them help out? Thanks in advance for anyone who can give me any advice at all.

I believe the government want hosts to offer their homes for at least six months so you would need to be okay with this time scale.

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It’s also just been reported that the Government are allegedly giving £350 pm to households offering a room to refugees.
Obviously there’s more wear and tear so would you want this rent, a portion of it or would you let the tenants keep it.

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It would presumably now be classed as a hmo, if it isn’t already. A hmo is 3 or more people from more than 1 household which would increase your responsibilities. A large hmo of 5 or more people from more than 1 household needs a hmo license. Not sure if government will give exemptions for refugees, i doubt it.

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Its not a good idea for tenants to do this. The dont have long term security of tenure themselves. What if they need to move? What if they lose their job and cant pay the rent? What if you need the property back for some other reason?

Quite apart from that, the property will become an HMO and you will need to do some adaptations, (probably new fire doors throughout and an upgraded alarm system at a minimum) and get licence from the local authority, which is likely to be costly and bureaucratic.

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You have been so helpful. I thank my lucky stars that you share your knowledge with a novice. Thank you for taking the time.

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what if they do not get along? The LA may say they will help but i bet you or your tenant will be on their own . Do not allow it

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We are writing to all our tenants saying that while we are sympathetic to any wish they might have to help with the refugee housing crisis they must not allow anyone to occupy the dwelling who is not a party to the tenancy agreement.
We are looking into how best we can offer support but if we did decide to do allow short-stay refugees to occupy any of our properties there would have to be a variation of the tenancy agreements so that the refugees themselves become tenants. They would have to pass our ordinary affordability and other referencing procedures. And then there’s the whole question of Houses in Multiple Occupation as mentioned above.
Renting residential property is a business. Sadly, business and charity are best kept at arms’ length. Usually anyone who tries to combine business and charity only does it once, and when the dust has settled they usually say “Never again”.

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Thank you very much for your detailing! I feel very supported.

I expect we will soon be seeing news reports of unscrupulous landlords denying homes for refugees. The reality is that allowing tenants to take in refugees means the property becomes an HMO with all the attendant requirements, it also probably breaches your mortgage and insurance terms. Landlords’ Guild published a guide for members this week: Homes for Ukraine - Landlords Guidance - GRL

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Not every tenancy would be an HMO with a Ukrainian lodger, the issue is if a tenancy problem arose and the Tenants left eventually, the lodger could stay under the law and legal procedures against them would be necessary and expensive. Let alone any property deeds or conditions.

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Youre right that it wouldnt be an HMO in every case Brian7. The tenant could have 1 person living there, but not mother and child.

I’m not clear from what Govt have said so far on what the status of the refugee would be. The tenant would not only be their landlord, but also their sponsor, which implies some legal responsibility. I dont think they can just abandon them. I’m also not sure whether the refugees will have a Right to Rent, so may not be able to be left or live elsewhere. There are also insurance implications, leasehold and lender restrictions…

Its a bit of a minefield that many homeowners seem to be signing up for without an understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements.

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One of the main concerns is what if your tenant needs to give notice to move out (loss or change of job, extending their family etc) - They are supposed to house a refugee for minimum 6 months. What if the refugee can’t go with them - then refuses to move - whole can of worms opened along with costly legal battle and no rent coming in.

I’m all for helping where we can - but it does put us in a difficult situation with mortgage, insurance, whether HMO rules apply etc.

As us landlords keep saying lately; damned if we do, damned if we don’t…

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Latest Govt guidance is that if the tenant moves out before the 6 month min term for the refugee, the landlord will have to contine to house them and cannot charge rent, but may be able to get the £350 per month.

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all the more reason not to let it happen. If home OWNER wants to take a chance so be it . but not a landlord with a tenant

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Aren’t the £350 pm needed for food etc for the refugee? Unlikely that you can make a profit this way. Also unlikely that it will even be allowed that the LL takes some of that money.

No, I believe that they will be entitled to some benefits to cover food. Youre not expected to provide food, but many hosts will.

As David122 says, £350 is only for hosting, but I agree with you that the LL would not just be able to take it.
The landlord would have to increase the rent and again this is usually only allowed yearly.
As others have pointed out there’s far more legalities to consider apart from just this.

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I see, thanks to you and David for the clarification!