Scaling-up Social Lettings: Scope, Impact and barriers

Project Director: Professor Ed Ferrari
Project Duration: 2017-2018

This project sought to understand the scope and scale of the use of Social Lettings Agencies in England. The aim was to understand what SLAs can do to improve the access to, affordability and quality of, and stability in the Private Rented Sector, particularly for households in housing needs or in poverty.

The study developed a typology of SLA organisations and activities. We used this typology to develop a comprehensive audit of SLAs and their activities by: undertaking a review of academic and policy literature, a structured review of public registers, and expert interviews with selected stakeholders known to be close to the development of SLA models. We selected case study SLAs to represent the full range of SLA models (including business models and governance structures) and operating contexts (including geographical and housing market context). Each case study explored a set of key questions about their impact, and were also informed by analysis of local data and in-depth interviews with resident clients, landlord clients, local authority stakeholders, and SLA leadership and staff. Finally, a programme of policy development and dissemination work was undertaken. Workshops with selected national and sub-national stakeholder groups were held to help develop policy solutions that respond to the characteristics of the sector, the impacts it is achieving, the challenges it faces, and the wider housing policy context.

Our final report explains how SLAs play a vital role in helping low-income or vulnerable groups in terms of improving access to rented property, its affordability, its condition, and the stability of tenancies. We found several strengths of the SLA model, including the way that SLAs can utilise different funding sources, being benefits to landlords, enable better use of empty properties, and cross-subsidise support for their clients from other activities. We also identified a range of barriers to scaling up the SLA model and recommendations to policymakers about how those barriers may be overcome.

The project team also included Tom Moore (University of Sheffield), David Mullins and Halima Sacranie (University of Birmingham).

Project team

Research Fellow
Research Fellow, BA (Hons), MA, PhD
Reader, BA, MSc, PhD
Research Fellow, BA (Hons), PhD
Research Fellow
Director, BA(Hons) DipTP PhD FHEA


Joseph Rowntree Foundation
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