Slough to form two housing companies

Slough Borough Council has announced plans to set up two private housing companies to help meet the growing demand for good quality rental homes in the borough.

Officers will go before the council’s cabinet to seek approval to establish two separate subsidiary housing companies.

If agreed, the first company – provisionally called Herschel Homes – will buy brand new, high spec homes and rent them out at market rates.

The second company – provisionally called Slough Homes – will buy a mix of new and second hand homes to rent out at lower rates.

Both companies will be limited by share capital, with the council as sole shareholder.

Stephen Gibson, head of asset management at Slough Borough Council, said: “The companies will do different things but with one common goal – to provide good quality rental homes for local people.

“Herschel Homes will help those who can afford to pay market rent in Slough but don’t have the money to buy somewhere of their own, while Slough Homes will cater for a wider range of households, including people who are currently homeless or in need of social housing.

“By buying up lower valued homes in the borough, refurbishing them and renting them out to people in need, Slough Homes will also be saving the council tens of thousands of pounds a year in temporary accommodation costs, as well as raising the standards of rental properties in the borough.”

Councillor Zaffar Ajaib, commissioner for housing and urban renewal, said: “A growing population and a lack of space to build much-needed new homes has been putting pressure on our rental market for years.

“Add that to our strong economy and our proximity to Heathrow, plus the imminent arrival of Crossrail, and we are fast becoming one of most sought after places to live in the South East.

“You only have to look at recent reports of local house prices rising by 25 percent or more, faster than anywhere else in the region, to see how high demand is.

“As a result, a lot of people are being priced out of owning or renting a decent home in the borough.

“We also have a huge demand for social housing and too many people living in substandard rental properties with landlords who charge far too much for the quality of housing they’re providing.

“By effectively becoming a private landlord ourselves, we will be able to help people across the board, from those who can afford to pay market rates to those on more modest incomes, while buying up the poorer quality properties and turning them into decent homes for local people.

“And in these challenging times, it also makes good business sense to increase our housing stock and meet the demand for rental properties ourselves, rather than relying on private landlords to work with us.

“I will be recommending that cabinet approves the plans so officers can begin drafting a detailed business case.”

Final plans are expected to go back before cabinet later this year.

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