No room at the Inn? New appeal to St Albans and Harpenden landlords who can provide housing for Syrian refugees

St Albans district council has comitted to settling ten refugees a year over the next five years

St Albans district council has comitted to settling ten refugees a year over the next five years - Credit: Archant

A fresh appeal is being made to landlords who can provide accommodation for Syrian refugees in the district.

It follows difficulties experienced by St Albans council finding accommodation for the refugees in the private sector.

The council is committed to settling 10 refugees a a year over the next five years, a figure which could amount to two or three families a year.

But of the local landlords with experience of housing tenants on benefits approached by the council, only a small number came forward and the properties were not suitable.

With the first refugees due to arrive next year, a new plea has gone out to landlords who may have suitable, self-contained properties to get in touch with the council’s housing department.

In another initiative, local churches have been approached about using their residential properties when they become available.

Cllr Brian Ellis, the council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “We are appealing to private landlords in the district to help us with this extremely good cause.

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“If you think you have got something suitable at market rent, then, please contact us.”

Interested landlords are asked to email or telephone 01727 819355.

An update to the council’s cabinet on Tuesday revealed that the political group leaders had agreed to the settling of 10 refugees a year.

St Albans is working with eight other Herts authorities on the issue as well as the county council. The Refugee Council has also been approached so that the council can draw on its experience.

£25,000 from one of the council’s community funds has been set aside to support resettlement.

Procedures for resettling are also becoming clearer with the UN Refugee Agency, working in Syria, referring people to local authorities in the UK. The Home Office will be involved in matching the refugees to suitable locations.

Once the council has accepted a family, their arrival into the UK will take approximately six weeks.

Council leader, Cllr Julian Daly, said: “A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to pave the way for the arrival of Syrian refugees.

“The council as a whole is committed to this humanitarian effort as are a number of community groups. We are now looking to form a partnership that can deal efficiently with all the issues involved.

“Next year, we are likely to see the first Syrian refugees arrive in the district and our preparations are well underway.”