Homes for Ukraine Scheme

We have all seen the troubling headlines around the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and the terrible effect this is having on the Ukrainian people. According to the BBC, nearly 10 million people have been displaced from their homes in the Ukraine with 4.5 million people having fled the country. Given that the country has a total population of just over 41 million people, it is easy to see what a massive effect the invasion has had.

In an attempt to help the people of the Ukraine, the Government has launched its “Homes for Ukraine” scheme which is aimed at incentivising people in the UK to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees. In this article we will take a look at the scheme with an emphasis on how landlords can offer assistance.

Registering

You can register your interest in sponsorship by logging on to the Government website and registering your interest. If you know someone who you wish to sponsor then you should contact them directly and work together to organise their visa. If you don’t directly know someone then you will need to contact appropriate charities or organisations such as the Red Cross

Rent

Under the scheme the Government will offer an optional £350 per month thank you payment for anyone who sponsors a Ukrainian refugee. This payment will be for a maximum of 12 months and be paid in arrears, this is not taxed. Landlords are not, however, allowed to charge any rent on top of this sum of money.

Property

As a landlord, you will be familiar with all the requirements for renting a property such as smoke detectors, gas safety checks, electrical safety and cleanliness. The Government asks that the same standards be adhered to for sponsored guests. The property will also be checked by the local council before a sponsored guest can be accepted.

Mortgages and Insurance

Before you agree to sponsor someone, if you have a mortgage on the property, it would be advisable to check with the mortgage provider to see if there are any restrictions. It would also be advisable to discuss the sponsorship with your insurance provider to ensure that the sponsorship is covered under your policy.

Agreements

There are no legal requirements to have a formal agreement but if one is preferable then, because no rent is charged, this would need to be an excluded licence or excluded tenancy agreement. An assured Shorthold tenancy agreement is not applicable as there is no rent.

Council Tax

As part of any agreement, a landlord should agree with their guest who pays the council tax. One thing to remember is that sponsoring a guest does not affect any council tax discounts.

Breakdown of relationship

If, for whatever reason, the relationship with a guest breaks down irretrievably then a sponsorship can be ended early as long as the local council is informed as soon as possible.

Notice period

When it comes to the end of the sponsorship period, whether it be the minimum 6 months or later, 2 month’s notice needs to be given. If the sponsorship is due to end at 6 months, then notice should be given at least 2 months before the end date.

Tenants

Tenants can sponsor guests, but will, if the tenancy agreement requires it, need to get permission from the landlord. If the tenant becomes a sponsor and the landlord agrees to this, the tenant becomes responsible for the guest and ensuring that they have the right visas to be in the country. Landlords need to take care here as the minimum sponsorship period is 6 months. If a tenant moves out before the end of that 6 months, the landlord could become liable for the sponsorship.

Registrations for those wishing to sponsor a guest have been open since the 14th of March and Ukrainians have been able to apply for Visas since the 18th of March. If you, are considering applying to be a sponsor make sure that you fully understand the implications and commitment required.