Charity aimed at improving PRS conditions offers funding
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
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A new charity with a mission to improve standards in private rented housing management has today launched its website and is inviting applications for funding.
The TDS Charitable Foundation will provide education and training resources to tenants, landlords and agents, and give grants to projects working towards the same goal.
Applications are now being invited for projects to promote knowledge of landlords' obligations, and projects to raise awareness amongst tenants of their rights and responsibilities.
In its first series of funding, the foundation will give particular focus to tenants who are renting privately for the first time, and to the growing number of 'accidental landlords' who are letting property owing to circumstance but with little or no awareness of what their obligations are.
Industry and tenant organisations are represented on the foundation's board of trustees, including RICS, NUS, the National Association of Estate Agents and The Dispute Service.
Despite the private rented sector overtaking social housing stocks in 2013 to reach four million households in England, the industry remains largely unregulated and continues to hold the highest proportion of homes which fail to meet the government's decent homes standard.
Trustee Peter Bolton-King, global residential director at RICS, has said that the sector is at risk of becoming "the property industry's wild west".
Steve Harriott, chief executive of The Dispute Service and a trustee of the foundation said; "The TDS Charitable Foundation is providing a valuable new source of funding for organisations which are committed to better standards in private renting.
"At present anyone can enter the lettings industry without training or experience, exposing people to many risks; from bad service to substandard living conditions, to financial loss or worse. I look forward to receiving new and exciting proposals for making tenants aware of what they need to expect from their landlords and agents, and for ways to encourage landlords into training."
Trustee Colum McGuire, vice president (welfare) at the National Union of Students, added: "Students make up a sizeable proportion of the private rented sector, and for many of them it will be their first time. This can leave them vulnerable due to not being aware of their rights so it's absolutely vital that we do all we can to empower them as tenants.
"We're very glad to be a part of this initiative and believe that the Foundation will go a long way to increasing tenants' empowerment and protection."