Six innovations ready to tackle UK’s dysfunctional housing market

Date: 25 September 2018


Six innovations ready to tackle UK’s dysfunctional housing market

The Young Foundation accelerates social enterprises that support vulnerable private sector renters

25 September 2018 – London, UK

Today, The Young Foundation welcomes six new projects to the Reimaging Rent accelerator — the UK’s only innovation programme focussed on tackling issues of affordability, quality and security for vulnerable renters and those on low incomes within the private rented sector (PRS).

Missed house-building targets, complex regulation, poor quality and inefficient use of supply are just some of the issues that pervade the UK’s dysfunctional housing market and have inflated the cost of housing for both aspiring homeowners and renters alike. For the vulnerable, the social and economic inequalities perpetuated by the private rented sector are particularly acute — poverty among renters* has doubled in the last decade. With 5 million UK households reliant on the PRS and that number expected to rise** and policy change remaining slow, new solutions are needed now.

Through workshops, consultancy, network-building and access to expertise and peer-support, Reimagining Rent provides the infrastructure and targeted support needed to catalyse innovation and grow the impact of each initiative.

The six projects are:

  • Ethical Rental Sector aims to provide a reliably affordable, quality rental experience for London’s “City Makers” – a term similar to Key Worker that includes a broader spectrum of industries where employees are routinely paid insufficiently to meet rental affordability standards. It aims to do this by growing a permanent portfolio of ‘Smart HMOs’, sustainably using the capital’s large resource of under-occupied family homes, refurbished and extended to provide a market leading occupier experience – all underpinned by quality design and a focus on community. They will be offered at rents specifically affordable by target tenants.
  • Homeshare UK brings together people with spare rooms with people who are happy to chat and lend a hand around the house in return for affordable, sociable accommodation. Part of Shared Lives Plus, the model aims to ensure that people are well-supported to pursue ordinary lives within the households and relationships of their choice, feeling that they belong and can make a valued contribution to those around them. There are 23 UK Homeshare delivery organisations, supporting 400 Homeshare matches and benefitting 800 people.
  • The Kohab is a new intergenerational later-living company bringing old and young adults together under one roof to live in mutual support. The model works by offering younger residents discounted rent to live in The Kohab’s retirement schemes where they can support their older neighbours. Its mission is to create a solution to the loneliness epidemic faced by both young and old adults in the UK, as well as the age ghettos created by the approach to retirement living today.
  • Sharing Solutions is a partnership between Crisis and the London Borough of Lewisham, working to create a model of how affordable shared housing can be provided to younger people on low incomes as part of a new mixed-tenure housing development; how institutional landlords might provide more security and affordability to people struggling to access housing; and how shared housing can provide a long-term settled and financially viable home. The aim is to create at least 20 offers of accommodation to single, young people in need in Lewisham and to also create an example for others to follow.
  • Smart Renter is a web app created by Housing Rights that provides renters with clear, straightforward advice and support on renting in the private sector in Northern Ireland. It includes a mobile-responsive website, checklists, letter templates and an innovative new chatbot, all in a simple, user-friendly format. The aim is to make renters more aware of their rights and responsibilities and achieve better outcomes for both renters and landlords.
  • Your Own Place CIC is a social enterprise committed to finding new solutions to old problems and preventing youth homelessness. Its project will focus on developing the tools and methodologies needed in order to begin conversations with private landlords, exploring with them what their needs are in relation to their younger, more vulnerable and benefit claiming tenants. Working with the third sector and local authorities, Your Own Place will develop and run workshops with landlords to understand their pressure points, their challenges and to test and evaluate potential solutions.

“I’m excited to welcome a second group of creative-thinking social enterprises, businesses and partnership initiatives to the Reimagining Rent programme. With millions of people trapped in insecure and expensive housing — and the most vulnerable in our society suffering the most — we need to think differently about how to fix renting. It will also take years until we see policy and regulatory change have any real, far-reaching impact so innovation at a targeted and local-level is the way forward; creating models for others to follow. At The Young Foundation, we are committed to accelerating the innovations that have the potential to alleviate the unfair impact of the housing crisis on people, families and communities today,” said Helen Goulden, CEO.

Reimagining Rent is funded by the Nationwide Foundation, a charitable funder aiming to increase the availability of decent affordable homes for people in housing need.

Jonathan Lewis, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation said: “The lack of decent affordable housing for people in need is one of our country’s most critical social issues. It damages not only individuals and families, but also whole communities too. We know that there are many organisations with brilliant and imaginative ideas about how to deliver the right sort of housing and that’s why we are thrilled to be supporting Reimagining Rent.”

This is the second year of the Reimagining Rent programme. A former participant, Helena Trippe, CEO at RentSquare, said: “Reimagining Rent has been very useful to us as an organisation. It has given us some valuable experience under our belt, helping us define where we want to take RentSquare next and prepare for it. In particular, the mix of expert training and 1:1 support has enabled us to understand how to approach growth and how to scale in a way that suits us best. It was also really refreshing to be surrounded by a group of people genuinely committed to making a difference to housing, looking at a range of solutions which are not just about technology. If you are excited about solving some of the complex problems in the private rented sector, then this accelerator is the place to be.”


For more information contact Kasia Murphy in the press office on 0044 777 473 6497 or by email on:

Notes to Editors

* Tackling poverty through housing and planning policy in city regions, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2016)

** The UK Tenant Survey, Knight Frank Research (2017)

About The Young Foundation: A UKRI accredited Independent Research Organisation, social investor and community development practitioner, our mission is to develop better connected and more sustainable communities across the UK. Specialising in community-focussed topics like place-making, health and wellbeing, lived experiences of inequality, education and social entrepreneurship, we work at a local and national level and in partnership with others.

We have created and supported over 80 organisations that target areas of unmet social need, including: Which? The Open University, Language Line, Social Innovation Exchange, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Uprising and Action for Happiness.

About Nationwide Foundation: The Nationwide Foundation is a charity that improves the lives of people in need. It seeks to make change happen by funding charitable causes. The Nationwide Foundation’s Decent Affordable Homes strategy aims to increase the availability of decent affordable homes for people in housing need in the UK.

The Young Foundation’s Reimagining Rent has been funded under the Nationwide Foundation’s Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System programme. The Nationwide Foundation is backing promising ideas, allowing them to be trialled and tested, and then helping them move through into action, influence and ultimately wide-spread implementation. Charity number: 1065552.

Find out more at: Twitter: @Nationwidefdtn

Contact: 01793 655113 or