How can a landlord save lives of Syrian Refugees?

Atia Lokhat-Hafezjee, landlord, and her new tenant from Aleppo in Syria, Sheghaf Abu Saleh

It’s really very easy!!! Come to our Open House at 6.30pm on Thursday 26th January at 27 Pages Lane, Muswell Hill, London N10 1PU and find out more.

Renting a home to a Syrian refugee family, trapped in the middle of a war zone, will cost you nothing but can save lives.

Not to mention, it could potentially be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, involving your own family in a humanitarian cause as well as a chance for a two-year lease, hassle-free rent payments, with motivated, careful tenants. Ideal for any landlord!

Who would have thought that the Syrian lives we see suffering on our TV screens at home rest in the hands of landlords?

How can this be achieved?

It’s simple, the government has committed to resettling 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020 but so far only about 4,000 have arrived because local authorities and community groups are struggling to find housing for them.

If private landlords would come forward and offer to rent to a Syrian refugees, Local Authorities and local community groups would be able to start the process of bringing families over from Syria, at no cost to you. Families are allowed to work from the day they arrive and receive a full range of housing and other benefits.

But unfortunately most landlords have no idea just how easy and cost-effective renting to a Syrian refugee family really is!

Or that this scheme does not take away from the pool of housing the local authority has reserved for local people.

My experience as a landlord housing Syrian refugees

Getting the flat in Tottenham ready for the Syrian family

It started with a short video clip sent to me a couple of months ago when I discovered that our family letting business could potentially save Syrian lives and we would still benefit financially! So why wouldn’t I try?

This, combined with my need to help families experiencing similar challenges as I did growing up, as new arrivals in Canada, with parents working hard to make their way in a strange country, is what motivated me. And we didn’t even come from a war zone!

My first experience of renting to a Syrian family has moved me beyond words and a decision I would never regret, as a landlord or as a human being who wanted to make a difference.

I was able to help a newly reunited family by giving them a new start, with the help of supportive friends and family.

When Sheghaf, Khaled and their daughter Dania arrived a few weeks ago to rent our flat in Tottenham, I found the experience changed my life as much as theirs.

My own family and I greeted them at the front door of their new home and from that moment onward, I formed a deep friendship with someone who has lived through a terrible trauma, whose positive attitude and outlook about life has been contagious. It has helped us all to see a different perspective on life and its challenges.

Not to mention that on a personal level, I have been able to put all my own skills to good use, as a School Teacher, Foster Care Advisor, Counsellor and now even as a writer!

It has inspired me and my own family to never give up, seeing Khaled and Sheghaf working hard, trying to put down roots.

Dania, Khaled and Sheghaf on the day they arrived in Tottenham

Khaled, who was a bank manager in Syria is now training to work as a supermarket checkout cashier. Sheghaf, who was an architect and teaching engineering in Aleppo, has already been offered several places to do her PhD and has been hired by a supply teaching agency in schools. Their daughter Dania is only 2-1/2 but she’s already learned some words of English and has won the heart of my 10-year-old daughter.

This has been a terrific opportunity for my children and me to realize our humanitarian duties and also see the benefits to our family letting business.

How would the landlord benefit form letting to a Syrian Refugee? 

  • Hassle-free rent paid at Local Housing Allowance rates – in Haringey, £255.34 a week for a 2-bedroom property and £315.12 a week for 3 bedrooms. However, a two-year lease is on offer together with assurances of payment of rent.
  • Help on offer from community groups to redecorate and furnish properties and support families’ integration into London.
  • Highly motivated tenants – these are not problem families. Syrians escaping the war are determined to build new lives, find work and contribute to the society straight away, just as they lived in Syria.  They are grateful for the opportunity they have been given at life.
  • Get the satisfaction of knowing, that by letting to a Syrian family you have saved lives and potentially reunited families torn apart by this war.
  • If you’d like to know more, please contact Paul Eedle at Muswell Hill Methodist Church, Roy Dunbar at Haringey Council or myself, Atia Lokhat-Hafezjee, Landlord phone 07816 825499

Whether you have a property in Haringey or elsewhere, come and find out more at this event on Thursday (details below), hosted by Paul. It’s an opportunity for you to speak to my Syrian friends, Sheghaf and Khaled, community groups, officers from Haringey’s Housing department and myself – Syrian snacks will be served!

Atia Lokhat-Hafezjee