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Landlord provides accommodation for homeless this Christmas

Five homeless people will have a roof over their heads this Christmas, thanks to a kind-hearted Liverpool landlord, Mike Georgeson.

OurHouseOurPeople is a community interest company set up last year when it opened up an office block for homeless people during one of the worst winters the country had seen.

“I am a landlord of a house in Anfield which I’d previously let to young professionals, singles and couples, for whom it was generally their first time away from home,” says Mike Georgeson, landlord and founder of online rental platform RentalStep.

“I often ended up being a surrogate dad, offering advice and support when it was needed.”

“When I was approached by OurHouseOurPeople to see whether I would let the house to them with all the tenants being former homeless people, it seemed like a great idea,” he says.

Not only does it mean the new tenants will have shelter from the winter weather but, crucially, they’ll have an address which will give each of them the ability to claim benefits, apply for job interviews and earn a credit rating to help get their lives back on track.

“The lack of an address is a huge barrier to people being able to get their lives in order and start making a positive contribution to society again – and being a valuable part of it,” Georgeson explains.

“As an individual, I wanted to give something back – we are all just a paycheque away from this being us, so of course I wanted to help.”

“We can’t escape the fact that homelessness is a problem in Liverpool, and it’s one thing to chuck a quid into a pot or buy someone a cup of coffee – but to be able to put a roof over their heads is amazing,” he says.

“I also wanted to show that not all landlords are bad – I’m genuinely over the moon to be able to help these people – and perhaps encourage other landlords to offer their homes for similar use too.”
OurHouseOurPeople was set up by Ken Davies after Signature Living and its director Lawrence Kenwright.

“I was managing Kingsway House shelter for Signature Living and wanted to continue to help the homeless problem when it closed,” Davies explains.

“I decided to set up supported houses with a view to getting people away from drugs and into training, education or employment, supported by Lawrence. With Mike and a number of other owners, we managed to house 42 homeless people in six months, getting referrals from other agencies such as Addaction, Merseyside Probation Service and various hostels.”

“We have even started a project called Anfield Alley Angels which encourages our residents to work voluntarily, cleaning up in the area. We have come to the attention of the mayor Joe Anderson and the local MP Dan Carden, and apparently, we have been spoken about in cabinet. So as you can see, Mike, with his generosity, has started something amazing. I believe many lives have been changed.”

Professionally there is more that Georgeson can, and is, doing too. His company RentalStep, based in Liverpool, was set up in April 2017 to connect tenants with landlords, provide reliable references and log their on-time rental payment history to improve their credit score via a Tenant PassportTM.

RentalStep now offers this free service to 7,000 tenants and 1,800 landlords registered on its platform. It also provides a premium service through which it manages properties, including advertising on Rightmove and Zoopla, carrying out an annual gas safety certificate test, managing viewings and collecting rent.

“Through RentalStep, I can provide even more practical help too, and give people that all-important address which they need to turn their lives around,” adds Georgeson.

“And, yes, it’s an investment for me as a businessman because one day these people might be tenants of private landlords who are registered with us, but to be able to offer the opportunity as an individual to help people get a roof over their heads, a job and eventually a home of their own, feels good.”