Orchard & Shipman Secures 1000th Property

by Scott Douglas

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Orchard & Shipman announced today the procurement of their 1,000th property in Edinburgh – two years ahead of target.

Orchard & Shipman act on behalf of The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) to find and manage private rented homes to provide vital accommodation for individuals and families in housing need. 

This innovative contract, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, was launched by the City of Edinburgh Council in September 2005 and has already become the largest scheme of its kind in the UK.

Referred to as Private Sector Leasing (PSL), the scheme offers the option of quality accommodation across all 17 of the city’s council wards, giving people the choice of living next to family, friends, schools and local amenities. It thereby ensures a choice-based approach to re-housing which involves tenants in the process.

A survey of the scheme revealed that a phenomenal 96% of tenants and 100% of landlords describe the service as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and with 6,000 landlords and investors registering an interest the continuing success of the scheme seems assured.

Angela McLachlan, Head of Social Housing Scotland for Orchard & Shipman, said: “To have reached our 1000th property milestone way ahead of schedule is a stunning reflection on the success of the PSL scheme.  Key to this has been the excellent partnering relationship with The City of Edinburgh Council.

“PSL works because it brings benefits to all parties, the Council who face huge demand to provide housing, the families desperate for accommodation in areas that they want to live in, and the landlords who see the benefits of long-term income for their investments.

“One of the important features of the service is that it provides alternative housing options for customers in housing need. Our tenants are treated as valued clients – this respect helps customers regain confidence and move on with their lives.

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“As well as providing councils with a single provider for property management, we adopt a holistic approach to supporting tenants and the local community by providing assistance with applications for housing benefit, a mediation service for neighbours and links with support agencies.”

Jane McLeod ,34, went to CEC in 2006 when she encountered difficulties at home and within a week she had been offered an Orchard & Shipman property in Dalry which she snapped up. 

She said: “The difference this move made to my family’s life was amazing. My children quickly settled into a new school, joined local clubs, and made new friends they could invite back to their new home. Undoubtedly, the most heart-warming change was that we all currently ‘feel safe’. It’s also allowed me to take stock of my life and return to work.”

Accountant Alan Whitelaw, who owns the 1000th property in Edinburgh’s Murrayburn district, is full of praise for Orchard & Shipman.

He said: “They have proved extremely professional and the fact that I will receive secure, regular rental income for five years is invaluable.  It’s also good to know that I am contributing to a scheme that will help people in housing need in Edinburgh.”

Under PSL, landlords enjoy the security of guaranteed long-term income, rents paid quarterly in advance with no voids and no agent’s fees – and the return of the property in good condition.

Orchard & Shipman, who was contracted by CEC to procure 1500 properties by 2010, is looking to attract new landlords to reach its required target. Such is the growing interest in the Edinburgh PSL that more than half of Scotland’s local authorities have already been in touch with Orchard & Shipman to learn more about the scheme.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said:  “The PSL scheme is an excellent example of the public and private sector working together, in partnership, to provide quality accommodation to customers in housing need. Since the scheme commenced 1300 households have been accommodated in PSL tenancies which has greatly assisted the council in meeting its statutory duties.”

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