We all know that home is fundamental to living well and feeling safe. But for refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK, finding a home isn’t always easy. That’s why our rooms for refugee scheme is so important. Whether you’re an experienced landlord or have never rented a room in your life, the Refugee Council can support you every step of the way to transform a refugee’s life.
Shoib Khan, from Camberley, Surrey, has done exactly that. Here below he explains why…
Why did you choose to rent your room to a refugee?
I was left my parents’ house in 2015 after they both passed away in quick succession. Being immigrants to this country when they arrived here in the 1950s, it felt like an appropriate thing to do to look to use the house for a positive social purpose rather than get the most rent possible.
How did you hear about the scheme?
I saw an article in the Guardian talking about what people can practically do to help with the refugee crisis.
Had you rented at all before this?
No, I am a first-time landlord.
What was the best thing about your experience of this?
Meeting and getting to know my tenants. Seeing them move on and develop…. things like getting jobs, going to university, being reunited with their kids when they eventually managed to get them through the visa process.
Would you recommend other people do it?
Yes I would, it’s a fantastic and very practical way to help refugees. But it isn’t for hands off landlords or those who want to maximise their rental income.
What did you learn about the person/people you rented to?
Some people want to talk about their past and some don’t. One tenant wisely said that he never asked fellow refugees about their past, it was too often a divisive move rather than a positive one. However those that have shared the trials they have had to get here are the greatest riposte to those who oppose the thought of welcoming refugees. Like everyone else on the planet, refugees aren’t perfect but they are people, and it is too easy to forget that.
What were the challenges?
Occasional communication challenges with tenants, frequent bureaucratic challenges with the council and what I would describe as their kafkaesque approach to dealing with housing benefit issues. I would also say some ignorance and prejudice amongst other organisations (insurance companies, loss adjusters, for example) around refugees and their status and rights. But it has all been worth it!
Here is more information about our Rooms for Refugees scheme or call 020 7346 1190.