The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sparked a humanitarian crisis that has indirectly affected a wide range of countries across Europe and beyond. So far, the United Kingdom has been one of Western Europe’s leaders when it comes to housing Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war – but what exactly are the Homes for Ukraine scheme and how can British landlords do their bit to help?
How many Ukrainian evacuees have entered the UK?
Since the invasion in February, the UK has received a total of 208,500 visa applications under the Ukraine Scheme (58,600 under the Ukraine Family Scheme and 149,900 under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme), while the total number of visas successfully processed stands at 179,000, as of August 23rd 2022. Due to the scale of the crisis, there is currently no cap or limit on the number of Ukrainian refugees that the UK has committed to take, although there are approximately 3 million refugees on the move around the continent.
What are the Homes for Ukraine scheme?
Homes For Ukraine is a government scheme designed to incentivise British landlords, homeowners, charities, and businesses to provide housing for the Ukrainian refugees currently fleeing the war. Any Ukrainian national is eligible for the scheme, while the immediate families of Ukrainian nationals may also apply. According to the scheme, Ukrainians will be able to live and work in the UK for a minimum of 3 years and access all the same public services as British residents, including certain benefits, education, and employment support. Brits who provide housing under the Scheme could be eligible for ‘thankyou’ support payments of £350 each month.
What should landlords know before housing? UK landlords who want to house refugees must prepare a checklist beforehand to ensure that everything is legal: this could include updating your landlord insurance, as allowing a third party to share your home could invalidate your current policy; landlords are also expected to provide gas and energy certificates and gas safety records if utilising a spare room in their main home; depending on the status of your home and the number of non-related occupants, you may also need to apply for an HMO license if there will be at least 3 unrelated people sharing your home. It’s essential that landlords or homeowners fully check the details of their mortgage agreements before signing up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme to avoid breaking its terms related to multiple occupancies. As you might expect, landlords will be fully liable to complete any necessary repairs or maintenance work under the scheme, just as they would if they were renting out a room to a regular tenant.