Luton Lets, a ‘social letting agency’ for Luton Council, has announced the launch of a joint venture with Squared, previously known as Luton Community Housing.
Together, Luton Lets Squared has formed as a new high street agent with services covering social lets, private rented scheme lets and sales.
The agency aims to help applicants on benefits or with low incomes find a route into the private rented sector.
It said: “Very often people in such circumstances find it hard to get high quality accommodation because of the challenges of needing to be able to provide deposits, references and other criteria which can be significant obstacles.”
Under its “unique” business model, the agency will not charge tenants for its service, and staff will not receive commission on properties.
It also pledges to support those who are sleeping rough, and provide alternative accommodation before people become homeless.
Competitive fees will be charged for the private rented and sales service in order to sustain the social letting service, and profits from the competitive fees will allow the agency to provide below market values for its properties.
As well as providing social letting, the hybrid agency hopes to drive up property standards in Luton, and expose rogue and exploitative landlords.
John Holman, interim service director for housing, said: “Luton Lets Squared is an exciting initiative that brings together the accumulated knowledge and experience of two valued organisations.
“Affordable accommodation is vital for everyone in the town – irrespective of who they are -and for many a dependable, secure home is the first step towards lifting themselves out of financial hardship.”
He added: “As the council seeks to tackle poverty in the town, Luton Lets Squared will have a vital role to play.“
Lynda Rees, chief executive of Squared, said: “Squared is a local housing organisation and as such is totally committed to providing housing for the least able to compete in the private rental market.
“We are very happy to be working in partnership with LBC on this Joint venture.”