Refugee Week 2019 - One Year On

Written by Natalie Farr. Open Doors Project Officer 
Last year, Nazia wrote a blog about the experiences of refugees living in the private rented sector. Prior to writing this blog, she talked with staff and service users from the Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) in Cardiff. 
At the time, WRC Services Manager, Salah Rasool, told her about the difficulties he faced in his role when trying to encourage private landlords to rent to individuals with refugee status. He spoke about the stigma attached to refugees and how, for many landlords, their reluctance to rent to this group of people stemmed largely from a ‘fear of the unknown’.  
In a bid to address this issue and ultimately encourage landlords to rent to a more diverse range of people, Open Doors spoke to a number of refugees at WRC who were already living as tenants in the PRS. Nazia, Open Doors Project Officer at the time, compiled a series of videos based on their experiences and their thoughts on what makes them a good tenant. She also asked them what advice they would give to other prospective tenants in a similar situation as theirs. 
The main points raised by those who took part in the videos were around the importance of tenants: 
Knowing their rights 
Being aware of their responsibilities
Knowing what advice and support is available to them
One year on, Open Doors is re-showing these videos to mark ‘Refugee Week’ 2019. Please take the time to watch them here, on our YouTube channel. An example of the videos can be found below. 

Only a few weeks ago, not long after I started as Open Doors Project Officer, I spent some time speaking to refugees who were accessing the WRC’s Move-On service. This service provides much needed advice around housing, benefits, education, health and employment and supports refugees during the ‘move-on’ period. 
The ‘move-on’ period is when an asylum seeker has been granted refugee status and is then given 28 days to vacate Home Office asylum accommodation. Arguably, 28 days does not give new refugees much time to access support, benefits or advice, let alone enough time to find alternative accommodation which is importantly, both safe and affordable. As a result, many new refugees find themselves at high risk of homelessness during this period.
From the conversations I had with people, it was clear to me that new refugees experience significant barriers when it comes to finding housing, particularly in the PRS. As well as the difficulty attached to having refugee status, people also spoke of other obstacles, including:
A lack of available and/ or affordable PRS accommodation
Landlords or letting agents refusing to rent to them if they are unemployed and/ or in receipt of benefits
Lack of funds for bonds and/ or not being able to secure a guarantor
For refugees, the difficulties faced when trying to access accommodation in the PRS has wide reaching consequences. Without a safe, secure and affordable place to call ‘home’, a person’s ability to fully integrate into society and move on with their life undoubtedly becomes a lot more difficult.
At Open Doors, we want to make the PRS a fairer and safer place for everyone. We work hard to encourage landlords and letting agents to consider renting to a more diverse range of people and, in so doing, we hope to increase awareness and challenge any negative stereotypes or assumptions.  
If you are a landlord or letting agent and would like to know more about renting to a person with `refugee status, then please do not hesitate to contact Open Doors or, alternatively, contact the Welsh Refugee Council and speak to their ‘Move-On’ service.

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Refugee Week 2019 - One Year On

Last year, Nazia wrote a blog about the experiences of refugees living in the private rented sector. One year on, Project Officer Natalie reflects. 

Know Your Rights!

Open Doors has produced a new video for anyone currently renting a home in the private rented sector. 

Ending 'no fault' evictions in Wales

Ending no fault evictions in Wales, what will it mean for you? 

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