PSL Provides Relief to Hard-Pressed Home Owners

by Scott Douglas

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Scottish homeowners and investors having trouble selling their properties are turning to an innovative renting scheme instead of leaving them on the sales market.

Property owners are opting to the sign up to Orchard & Shipman’s Private Sector Leasing (PSL) scheme in an attempt to gain financial security on their properties, rather than risk making losses by letting them remain vacant and up for sale.

The scheme has been running successfully in Edinburgh since 2005 when it was contracted to secure 1,500 properties for the City of Edinburgh Council to provide homes for those in housing need by 2010. It has already secured almost 1,300 properties two years ahead of schedule. The scheme was also recently launched in East Lothian, Midlothian and Scottish Borders, with talks going on at local authorities throughout Scotland to introduce the scheme.

Property Manager Hossein Fazeli joined the scheme after his house on Edinburgh’s Dochart Drive failed to sell after two months of being on the market.

He had previously made an unsuccessful attempt at finding new tenants for the four-bedroom property and saw that PSL was the best deal to ensure he did not lose money on his investment.

The 50-year-old said: “I’d owned the house for about three years and had previously lived in it myself. I’d had tenants there for six months or so and, after they moved out in January, I planned on renting it out again.

“When no-one came through to rent the flat, I decided to put it up for sale instead and cut my losses. I thought I would have no trouble selling it but after two months there had been no solid interest in it.

“It’s a family home and a little bit out of the city centre, but I had expected it to do better than that. It was just lying unoccupied and costing me money, so I decided to take up the Orchard & Shipman offer for its Private Sector Leasing scheme.”

Under the scheme, 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.

Hossein added: “It makes a lot of sense to have it on this scheme. Instead of worrying whether I can sell it or rent it myself – during which time it would cost me a lot of money – I have just given it to Orchard & Shipman on a three-year contract and they are taking care of it. I don’t have to worry about the management of the property and I get a standard rate from them every month.

“If everything goes well, then I can also extend the lease with them for another few years and continue With the security of the guaranteed rental income which means I’m not losing moneyI and I can have piece of mind about what’s happening with it, as I know it’s in good hands.

The Orchard & Shipman scheme provides councils with a single provider for property management and adopts 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.

There are PSL properties across all 17 of the Edinburgh’s council wards, as well as throughout Lothian and Borders, thereby 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.

Angela McLachlan, Director of Operations Scotland for Orchard & Shipman, said owners and investors who were finding it hard to sell or lease out their properties are now viewing the PSL scheme as the best way to secure their investment.

She said: “We’re seeing a growing number of property owners who, for whatever reason, are having difficulty either selling on or leasing out their homes and they view the PSL scheme as the best option for them.

“During this time of economic uncertainty and a slowdown in the housing market it makes sense for homeowners and investors to investigate all the available options.

“Private Sector Leasing 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.”

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