Shire Homes - No Hassle. No fees. Guaranteed rent through your local authority.
- Who are we?
- Why us?
- How it works
- About our tenants
- 7 easy steps to letting your property
- Frequently asked questions
Our non-profit management service means that the only people who benefit are our landlords and our tenants.
We are a non-profit property management service that operate a Private Sector Leasing Scheme funded by South Cambridgeshire District Council. We offer Landlords a hassle-free and ethical way to rent out their property through our guaranteed rent scheme. Shire Homes Lettings Limited started out in 2017, and we now manage just under 60 properties and have a small team of 4. We are friendly, professional and approachable.
We want to make the private sector fairer for landlords, as well as tenants. We understand landlords' concerns around rental reform, rising interest rates, the housing market - and how this is forcing many landlords to consider selling their properties.
This is not the answer.
We need Private Landlords more than ever as demand increases, and supply lessens.
What we are trying to provide is a landlord-focused solution to our housing crisis. Our service is created to address all the potential concerns and unnecessary costs our clients face, that’s why our landlords pay no management, admin, renewal, legal or possession fees. We pay rent during void periods, even for our HMO accommodation.
We do not believe in charging landlords more, for a less comprehensive service.
Providing secure, affordable and habitable accommodation for the most vulnerable members of our community, without landlords having to worry or foot the cost of anything that might go wrong, is part of our mission.
Letting your property through Shire Homes is an effective way to put a safety net around all, or part of your portfolio. We can also assist and advise with HMO conversion, arrange for upfront works, which will be rechargeable prior to acceptance onto the scheme to ensure your property is fully complaint.
Whatever size property you have, from a bedsit to a 4-bedroom house, we are interested in hearing from you.
We lease your property for 3 years. For the duration of the lease, we provide a full-management service which includes: rent collection, day-to-day maintenance, cost of gas safety checks, inventory and check-out reports, and legal fees.
We pay the rent directly to landlords, and collect rent from our tenants, there are no hidden fees, so you know exactly what your rental income will be. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have an empty property that’s uninhabitable or not lettable
We are doing our best to bring empty homes across the district back into use. We have contacted the owners of over 500 self-declared empty properties to find out how we can assist to make these properties habitable.
We are working alongside Homes for Ukraine to make these homes lettable. You may be eligible for funding towards making your property fully compliant. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in letting your property to Ukrainian guests.
We provide this service to assist tenants who aren’t able to access the private rental market for a variety of reasons. Our tenants often would not pass affordability checks, cannot provide guarantors, are unable to provide a substantial deposit, or references and are in housing need.
These barriers not only discriminate against large portions of our community but mean that suitable accommodation goes unoccupied for lengths of time, as many can’t pass vigorous referencing checks.
Step 1 - Property Inspection
We will discuss with you the condition and type of property you have, together with the location of the property. We'll then make arrangements to view the property. We will meet you at the property and do an initial survey, as well as discuss the lease options and the rent that we could offer you. We'll leave an application and information pack with you.
Step 2 – Preparing to let
To let your property with us, all you need to do is complete any work identified during the inspection and send us all of the necessary documentation. We also take a photographic schedule of condition, which will form part of your lease with Shire Homes.
Step 3 – Final inspection
Once all necessary work has been completed, we will visit your property for a final inspection.
Please note: if the survey result is unsatisfactory, we reserve the right to charge you for any further surveys.
Step 4 – Signing the lease
After the final inspection has been passed and Shire Homes has received all the necessary documentation, we will send you the lease which you need to sign and return to us. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice before agreeing to lease your property to us.
Step 5 – Handing over the keys
Once the final inspection has taken place, we will arrange to meet you at the property and collect the keys. We will need 3 sets of keys to all external doors and one set for all window locks. We recommend that you keep a spare set of window and door keys.
Step 6 – Receiving your rent
Rent is paid to you once your lease is completed and payments will commence on the first of the month, following the signing of the lease. All rental payments are paid in advance.
Step 7 – Management responsibility
Once the lease has been signed, the full-management responsibility for the property will be handed to Shire Homes. We will only contact you if any major or structural issues occur within the property.
Can I choose which tenants rent my property?
Our private sector leasing scheme is a full-management service, our tenants are selected deemed on the urgency of their housing need and suitability for the property. Therefore, the Shire Homes Team allocates tenant(s) to the properties rented through the scheme. In the privately rented sector, all tenants have to be given a minimum of a 6-month tenancy.
What happens if tenants don’t pay their rent, or damage my property?
Under the terms of the lease, Shire Homes is responsible, therefore any bad debt or damages are covered by us, and the costs recovered from the tenants. We carry out regular property visits to ensure this. Our landlords are guaranteed to receive rent on time, and you will always get your property back exactly how you left it, minus general wear and tear.
Do I need to furnish the property?
Generally, we let properties unfurnished but with floor coverings. We prefer no furniture to be included, due to fire risks, for example. We are happy for integrated white goods to remain in the property, although these will need to pass an electrical check, and be in good working order. On occasion, furniture could be gifted to the tenant, if they have very little of their own, but it is then their responsibility to maintain the furniture.
Do I need a Buy-to-Let Mortgage to lease my property through Shire Homes?
If you own your property outright, you will not need to take out a Buy-to-Let mortgage to let through Shire Homes. If there is a mortgage outstanding on your property, you will need to check with your mortgage provider if you need to change to a Buy-to-Let mortgage product.
Do I need to pay for maintenance?
No, we will even pay for gas safety checks throughout the lease. Shire Homes is a full-management service, this includes day-to-day maintenance and minor repairs at no extra cost to the landlord. We want our landlords to have a hassle-free service. We do expect you to cover the cost of any major repairs and structural issues, but we will assist in managing this with no additional administration costs.
What management fees will I pay?
None - Shire Homes is a not-for-profit business. We do not charge any management or administration fees, and you will never have to cover the cost of any possession, or legal fees. It’s all covered by Shire Homes Lettings Limited.
Can I receive my rent upfront?
Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, we are unable to pay rent in 6 or 12-month upfront instalments. However, we guarantee that your rent will be paid in full, pro-rata, in monthly instalments.
Can I have a break clause included in my lease?
Yes. Our lease agreements include a 12-month break clause which means you can have full vacant possession for any reason after the initial 12-month period ends.
Can I rent my property if it is outside of South Cambridgeshire?
Yes, we do take on properties outside of the district if they are suitable for the scheme. This is assessed on an individual basis.
How do I ensure my property is in a lettable condition?
You will need to have all the standard Landlord compliance checks. The property will need:
- a landlord gas safety certificate (if applicable)
- satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
If your property is going to be let as a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) you may need to obtain a licence from the Local Authority. As of 1 October 2022, all rented properties are also required to have Carbon Monoxide alarms in all rooms that have a fuel burning appliance (except gas cookers), and on every storey of a rented property where a room is used for living accommodation.
Why does the council need private Landlords?
South Cambridgeshire District Council has a statutory duty to prevent homelessness. Shire Homes houses tenants who are at risk of becoming homeless and deemed in housing need. We house a number of individuals, families and couples in temporary accommodation, which is not financially sustainable. Our aim is to improve accessibility to secure, affordable housing in Cambridgeshire. By providing access to privately rented accommodation through this scheme, we aim to reduce the demand for social housing.
What if I want to lease my property to Shire Homes for a period other than 3 years?
All of our leases are for 3-year terms, therefore you could choose to rent your property for 3-, 6- or 9-years, and so on. You could just lease your property for 12-months, but you will initially sign a 3-year lease and then instigate the break clause at 12-months.