Second Reading of The Renter’s Reform Bill

Second Reading of The Renter’s Reform Bill

23 October 2023

With the second reading of the Renter’s Reform Bill, we’re calling on the government for balance in support of tenants and landlords

Sue Edmonds CEO of Capital Letters said, “We welcome the removal of section 21 or ‘no fault evictions’. These have been one of the largest drivers of family homelessness and have forced many into temporary accommodation. The removal of section 21 gives renters greater protection from unscrupulous landlords; however, we are already seeing unintended consequence of good quality, responsible landlords (the landlords that we work with) leaving the sector due to a perceived lack of powers and an increased risk.”

Recent by research by Savills and LSE co-commissioned by Capital Letters, London Councils and Trust for London found that smaller landlords, at the affordable end of the market were more likely to leave the sector because of increased legislation. Rented accommodation supply in London is down 31% since the pandemic.

“The increased powers for landlords to protect their property from antisocial tenants is a welcome move, though, as ever, there will need to be nuance in the enforcement…” Sue Edmonds continued.

“Capital Letters is both a landlord and a member of a redress scheme; we fully support the introduction of an Ombudsman, and landlord registration. Greater openness and support for both tenants and landlords will improve the experience on both sides.

Capital Letters, in our role of procuring leased properties, and supplying our own homes for London boroughs, currently supply to a higher standard than the proposed minimum and are experts in advising landlords on how to reach those standards. We would urge the Government to go further on minimum standards to ensure families in the UK have better quality, safe and affordable homes.

We feel that this Bill is about improving the experience for tenants and landlords. Protections are needed on both sides, but a robust and pragmatic approach will be required around enforcement and reporting.”

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Calls for More Support for Renters and Landlords

Calls for More Support for Renters and Landlords

20th October 2023

Capital Letters, the unique not-for-profit owned by London boroughs is calling for more financial support for tenants, landlords and boroughs who have been hit by the rental crisis in London.



Capital Letters, the unique not-for-profit owned by London boroughs is calling for more financial support for tenants, landlords and boroughs who have been hit by the rental crisis in London.  

Sue Edmonds, Capital Letters CEO said “The latest government data shows that 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation in Q1 of 2023. This is the highest number on record and a significant increase on the pre-pandemic average.”  

“To prevent the homelessness crisis worsening and to prevent the Private Rented Sector from collapsing we need urgent Treasury intervention.”  

Capital Letters are experts in the private rented sector across London and have seen the impact that a lack of supply is having on affordability and in turn rates of homelessness, we are calling on the Government to:  

  • Increase Local Housing Allowance rates to reflect market rents and track these into the future. The latest government estimates suggested that the cost of increasing LHA rates to the 30th percentile would be £700m for the financial year 2023-24 across Great Britain. In 2021/22, local authorities in England alone spent more than double this figure, £1.6bn, on the provision of temporary accommodation for homeless households.  
  • Apply a commensurate increase to the benefits cap to ensure that those in London with higher rents are not penalised.   
  • Encourage landlords to stay in the market and invest in upgrading their properties including through introducing incentives for landlords to increase the energy performance of their property through a tax restructuring to allow energy performance improvements to be deductible against rental income. In addition, low or no interest loans should be introduced to 
  • Look at ways to bring empty homes and buildings back into use to boost supply in the short-term, providing there are appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that these are high quality and are delivered with local authority input. Government data shows that there are nearly 90,000 vacant dwellings in London currently. Grants should be made available to bring these back into use and improve their energy efficiency.  

“The market is failing the vulnerable” Sue Edmonds commented “By that I mean an ecosystem of interlocking vulnerabilities – financially vulnerable landlords who are working with increased regulation and increased tax burden and mortgage rates, financially vulnerable local authorities who, across London as a whole, are paying £60m a week for temporary accommodation, and most importantly ordinary Londoners – Londoners who are affected by the cost of living crisis unable to pay their rent or mortgage and are facing homelessness, who are experiencing homelessness, and those who are trapped in Temporary Accommodation – Each part of this ecosystem will be helped by our 4 priorities.”  

For more information, contact:

John Rockley 
Head of PR and Communications 
0203 874 4460 Ext. 228 

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Urgent call for more homes on World Homelessness Day

Urgent call for more homes on World Homelessness Day

10th October 2023

At Capital Letters, we are driven by a profound sense of purpose – to alleviate the suffering of families who find themselves without a place to call home.

John Rockley

Our commitment to supporting families experiencing homelessness is unwavering.

On this day dedicated to the awareness of the global homelessness crisis, we’re raising our voices to call for more homes and a rise in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

Mark Lowe, our Director of Finance and Resources said, “There are almost 170,000 people living in Temporary Accommodation (TA) in London alone. These are the hidden homeless, families with a place to sleep but no home.”

Figures from London Councils suggest that in April this year the number of homeless families placed in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer than the six-week legal time limit increased by a shocking 781% – up from 146 in April 2022 to 1,287 in April 2023.

Mark continued, “This isn’t just a personal story of hardship for all the families in TA; it’s bad for society as a whole – children are missing school, people are losing jobs as they may have to accept accommodation hours from where they work, and the public purse is being squeezed as London boroughs are together spending at least £60 million a week on temporary accommodation costs. No one is free from the effects of this crisis, and we need a long-term solution.”

In our call for addressing the homelessness crisis, we support the widespread call for an increase in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate. The LHA rate is a crucial lifeline for those reliant on benefits, enabling them to pay towards private rented homes. However, a freeze in LHA rates since 2020 has had a profound impact, leaving fewer than 2.6% of homes available at LHA rates, compared to a more equitable 30% before the pandemic struck.

“In a market like this we can’t just wait for LHA to be increased” said Mark Lowe “So we’re working with larger investment organisations, development partners, and our members, to take on portfolios of leases, offering some at market rent, which subsidises some at LHA rates. It needs to be financially viable for investors and we have a model that works.”

It’s important on World Homelessness Day to acknowledge the organisations that want to support Capital Letters, putting value back into society, helping those families have settled lives, making London a more vibrant city. It’s those organisations that understand that value extends beyond inflated profit margins and that it’s about making society better for everyone.

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2023-2028 Corporate Strategy: Tackling Housing Insecurity

2023-2028 corporate strategy: tackling housing insecurity

6th September 2023


In addressing housing insecurity, Capital Letters proudly unveils a comprehensive new corporate strategy, building upon our achievements over the last four years

Barbara Mettle-Olympio

Over the last four years, we’ve worked to offer 6,500 Private Rented Sector (PRS) homes to member boroughs, facilitating the allocation of 4,300 properties to families facing housing insecurity.

The provision of £3.1 million in grants to members, aimed at subsidising incentive payments to landlords, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring housing stability for vulnerable families.

Importantly, we’ve achieved an impressive success rate, with 61% of families placed in the properties we’ve procured being able to remain in their home borough. This surpasses the London average of 41%, showcasing our efficacy in addressing local housing needs.

The core objective of Capital Letters remains: to secure affordable rental properties, aligning with Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rent levels, for the benefit of its members, who, in turn, use these resources to support their residents.

Read the strategy here >

Looking ahead to the next five years, our focus will be on two primary areas:


  • Increasing housing supply
    To address the growing demand for housing solutions, we’re committed to expanding the availability of affordable housing units within our network. This expansion is a response to the urgent need for accessible housing options across member boroughs.
  • Generating sufficient income
    We recognise the importance of financial sustainability. We aim to generate income that will cover the cost of services provided to our member boroughs effectively.

We aim to achieve the above through a series of practical measures by:

  • Providing value for money
    At Capital Letters, we’ve already initiated substantial cost-saving measures in anticipation of our new service design. We’re dedicated to further enhancing the value for money delivered to our members by continuously seeking efficiency savings.
  • Service expansion
    We’re committed to extending our standard PRS and Private Sector Lease (PSL) procurement and tenancy sustainment services, catering to regions beyond London and diversifying procurement approaches to meet a range of housing needs. This includes services tailored to landlords, agents, and investors, with the goal of increasing the housing supply and generating additional income streams to sustain our mission.
  • PRS landlord role
    By consolidating our role as a PRS landlord, and streamlining the management of PSL transfers for member boroughs, we’re able to both cost savings and service improvements. Additionally, we aim to enter leases for properties to offer as PRS tenancies to homeless households or temporary accommodation for our members.

In conclusion, our new corporate strategy is grounded in practicality and a commitment to meeting the pressing needs of communities facing housing insecurity. Our track record, combined with a well-considered approach to the future, positions us as a responsible and reliable partner in addressing one of the UK’s most critical housing challenges.

Read the strategy here >

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Capital Letters partners with EVO Digital

Capital Letters partners with EVO Digital as it steps up efforts to tackle the homelessness crisis

14 November 2022


London accounts for 60% (56,500) of England’s households in temporary accommodation. Capital Letters and EVO share a mission to end homelessness.


Not-for-profit company Capital Letters has made a major move in its work to tackle the homelessness crisis by partnering with unique property maintenance company EVO Digital Technologies (EVO) to digitalise its repairs, maintenance and compliance services through a unique tenant-driven platform.

By automating a large part of the administration process related to the management of the repairs service through EVO with the confidence that tenants will benefit from an excellent and responsive service, Capital Letters can reinvest its time and resources into finding more homes for homeless families in London.

Capital Letters was established in 2019 in response to London’s homelessness crisis and mounting costs for councils. Funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the Company’s free service gives landlords easy and efficient access to suitable tenants across London whilst ensuring that properties meet required standards. By working in partnership with London boroughs and private landlords, Capital Letters has helped over 4,000 families find a secure home since they started three years ago.

In March 2022, DLUHC statistics show there were 56,500 households in Temporary Accommodation (TA) in London, representing 60% of the total across England. Of these, over 38,000 had children (68%). Capital Letters’ members expect this number to rise to 100,000 during the current financial year.

The company was created on a pan-London basis to enable boroughs to work collaboratively to combine resources, drive efficiency, equalise access and fair distribution of properties for members, reduce costs and competition for homes while increasing supply, support tenancies to be successful and deliver positive system change for London.

The partnership with EVO will allow Capital Letters to offer a holistic tenant focused housing management service, by using innovative and customer focused technology. This will empower tenants to arrange repairs at a time which suits them, rather than a contractor trying to meet arbitrary target dates.

“I am delighted that Capital Letters is partnering with Evo to provide a unique and innovative repairs service which puts tenants at the heart. Innovation is at the heart of what Capital letters does, driving change and creativity in everything we do. This partnership adds breadth and depth to the Company’s range of services as well supporting our primary objective of finding good quality, affordable secure homes so families can move out of temporary accommodation or avoid becoming homeless. Our partnership with EVO will allow us to add further value to our work with our member boroughs, increasing supply to address the homelessness crisis in London, driving up standards in the private rented sector and supporting successful tenancies for both landlords and tenants, ” says Sue Coulson, CEO of Capital Letters.

EVO is a fusion of property professionals, skilled trades and simple technology that transforms the way property management, maintenance and repairs are reported and delivered. Their digital platform connects tenants and landlords with skilled tradespeople in a convenient and transparent environment, allowing for issues to be resolved in the shortest possible time frame. This level of convenience allows issues to be raised and dealt with as they happen, ensuring tenants have a good experience, and landlords do not have a long term build-up of issues or consequential property damage.

“We are proud to embark on this journey with Capital Letters. EVO was born from a desire to improve tenant and landlord experience, as well as to tackle the serious problem of homelessness. I am really pleased that we have found a partner fully aligned with our core values and beliefs. Tenant experience seems to have been forgotten about in recent times but together I believe we can make a real difference” says Steven Rae, CEO of EVO.
By working with Evo, Capital Letters is confident that the Company will be able to deliver an excellent customer-focused repairs and maintenance service for their tenants, ensuring that the Company provides safe and secure homes where families can put down roots.

The main goals of the partnership are to:

  • Reduce homelessness
  • Ensure all accommodation is fully compliant
  • Ensure Capital Letters housing always meets the decent homes standard
  • Improve tenant experience with a completely transparent process, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction
  • Significantly reduce environmental impact through the use of digital solutions, video triage, local tradespeople and an improved first-time fix rate.
  • Build a useful property dataset to inform future investment decisions
  • Provide a seamless digital workflow for tenants, landlords and tradespeople.


EVO currently works with landlords, housing associations and local authorities as part of its shared mission to support people’s access to decent quality housing.


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Capital Letters have officially moved

Capital Letters have officially moved

1st November 2022

We have officially moved 

We’re pleased to announce that Capital Letters have moved to:

Sierra Quebec Bravo
77 Marsh Wall
E14 9SH  

Our old office at Clements Lane served us extremely well. It was where we first embarked on the Capital Letters journey back in June 2019. We have made some great memories and completed many exciting projects there in the on-going challenge to tackle the Capital’s homelessness crisis.

Our new office features much improved facilities, including more desk space and a brighter, modern working environment.  

Our Chief Executive Officer, Sue Coulson comments:  

“With changes to our working patterns post-pandemic and growth in the range of services we offer, our new office will 

enable us to build on our achievements over the past three years. This will also ensure that we are fit for the future and continue to provide service excellence for our member boroughs, the landlords we work with and our partners, while giving us room for further expansion over the coming years.”   

This move marks the next stage in the evolution and growth of Capital Letters and our services.  

We look forward to welcoming you here.

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Government supports Capital Letters to find private rented homes for homeless families over next two years

Government supports Capital Letters to find private rented homes for homeless families over next two years

6th July 2022

putting shoes on

The Government has confirmed funding of £14.1m for Capital Letters for a further two years, showing its continuing commitment to tackling family homelessness in London and Capital Letters.

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, announced the grant renewal at a Capital Letters conference today (6 July 2022), when he underlined the not-for-profit company’s role in the government strategy to tackle family homelessness.

Around 4000 homeless families have found homes in the private rented sector through Capital Letters since it procured the first property three years ago.

By working collectively through Capital Letters, the member councils have access to more properties across London, enabling them to house more families and make savings on their homelessness costs. An independent review of Capital Letters by the London School of Economics in 2021 highlighted the £15,000 a year cost of maintaining a family in temporary accommodation.

Raising standards in the private rented sector

With social and affordable housing in short supply in London, councils have been finding an increasing proportion of the homes they need to house families in the private rented sector. Capital Letters ensures that these properties meet the quality and safety standards agreed by the councils, which will be essential after the decent homes standard applies to the private rented sector.

Sue Coulson, Chief Executive of Capital Letters, said:

“By working collectively with Capital Letters, our member councils are driving up standards in the PRS, reducing costs, and increasing the supply of affordable homes for homeless families across London. We are improving the experience for both tenants and landlords, with the private rented sector as a key element of members’ homelessness reduction strategies.”

“As more London councils join Capital Letters, collectively we have a greater influence on the housing market. Landlords have easy access to tenants from councils across London, while councils can significantly reduce the cost of homelessness provision. Together we are creating more opportunities for more families to move out of temporary accommodation and settle into a secure and safe home.”

Tenancy sustainment service supports new tenants

Capital Letters also provides a free tenancy sustainment service for both tenants and landlords to ensure the tenancy has the best chance of success, including helping with new benefit claims, setting up utilities and sign-posting households to other services.

Around 80% of the families housed in a property secured through Capital Letters accept the offer of support; in 2021/22 the company secured over £750,000 for 300 families through grants and back-dated benefits.

Capital Letters is now developing new services to increase housing supply and making letting to families referred by councils more attractive to private landlords. Planned services include rent collection and protection, bonds and property management, which reduces the risk of arrears and reassures landlords that their property is looked after.

The company is developing independent sources of income to replace the current grant when it ceases in 2024 to ensure that services for homeless families continue long-term. Capital Letters is negotiating with property portfolio investors and intends to become a landlord itself, supplying more PRS properties for member boroughs.

Cllr Darren Rodwell,  Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning at London Councils, said:

“Capital Letters is a crucial part of boroughs’ pan-London approach to tackling the homelessness crisis.

“Since its launch, Capital Letters has improved boroughs’ access to accommodation options and – most importantly – secured better outcomes for the homeless Londoners who rely on us for housing help.

“We’re pleased the government is continuing its funding support for Capital Letters. This is important recognition of Capital Letters’ impact and a valuable boost to boroughs’ collaborative work in support of homeless Londoners.”  

Find out more about our free tenant finder service London landlords and agents here.

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Capital Letters welcomes renters reform white paper

family thumb


 17th June 2022


Our statement about the Government white paper, A New Deal for Private Renters, published by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 16 June 2022. Sue Coulson, Chief Executive, said:

“Capital Letters welcomes the publication of the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper, which will lead to the end of no-fault evictions and finally make “no DSS” discrimination illegal.

“For too long vulnerable tenants at risk of homeless have been unfairly treated by a few bad landlords in the private rented sector. They have been prevented from renting simply because they are on low incomes and claim benefits. Or, when they do find a home, they do not feel secure in their home because of the threat of eviction if they complain about sub-standard accommodation.

“The white paper shows that the government is serious about ending the unfair treatment of tenants, and we look forward to supporting the development and implementation of the proposed new policies.

“We will continue to work with the majority of responsible landlords so more families can move out of temporary accommodation or avoid the stress of insecure or unsuitable accommodation by finding good quality homes in the private rented sector.”

Capital Letters was set up in response to London’s homelessness crisis. We find private rented properties so families can move out of temporary accommodation or avoid being made homeless. Capital Letters is owned by two-thirds of the councils in London and is funded by the government.


Sue Coulson

Sue Coulson

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Safe properties equal peace of mind for everyone

A realtor or real estate appraiser inspecting a home

Safe properties equal peace of mind for everyone

2nd February 2022

Capital Letters works with councils in London to improve standards in the private rented sector. That works for landlords too, says Sue Coulson

A realtor or real estate appraiser

Is your property healthy and safe for tenants? Most landlords can honestly answer yes to that question. 

We work on behalf of two-thirds of the councils in London to find homes for low-income families. Councils need good, safe properties so these families can settle into their new homes. If a family moves into a property that is unsafe or unsuitable, they can soon end up back on the council’s housing list, which is also bad for landlords.

Our housing negotiators reject properties when landlords are unwilling or unable to carry out necessary safety improvements, such as fitting fire doors or window restrictors. But most landlords quickly sort out any issues highlighted by our inspections.

Anhar Ali, one of our newer landlords from Tower Hamlets, found the inspection was useful. “You have to keep tenants safe and make sure you are within the law,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from Capital Letters about how to make sure my property is up to standard.”

Quality standards in the private rented sector have steadily improved over the last decade. The proportion of properties in England failing to meet the government’s decent homes standard has halved since 2010.

But there are still too many non-decent homes out there! The reputation of the private rented sector is undermined by properties that no one would live in if they had a choice. Sadly, people on the edge of homelessness do not.

As demand for affordable housing continues to rise, councils know that a partnership with the private rented sector is an essential part of their housing strategy. But they also want to ensure properties are safe and push up the quality of private rented properties in their area by requiring minimum room sizes, fire and other safety measures and natural light.

To support that goal, our housing negotiators are trained in the requirements of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) when they inspect properties, which helps landlords comply with the 2004 Housing Act. 

Everyone agrees that HHSRS could be simpler. Following a consultation with landlords in 2019, the government is now reviewing the guidance. 

Gordon Hinchcliffe of Foundations UK is a long-time HHSRS expert who trained our negotiator team. He explains the government designed HHSRS so councils can take enforcement action against landlords who do not provide properties of a good enough standard and potentially put the health and safety of their tenants at risk

Most landlords we work with are relieved to have one of our negotiators deal with the detail of HHSRS for them. We see inspections as an opportunity to help landlords meet their legal obligations so they can confidently offer their tenants a safe and suitable property.

Why not book a free inspection with one our trained negotiators and we will connect you to families across London looking for a secure and settled home?

If you’re a London landlord, you can request a quote for the rent and incentive payment up to £4k payable on your property. 

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Is ESG investment a solution to the homelessness crisis? Find out what our expert panel concluded

Multiple people having a virtual meeting. CEO of Capital Letters Sue Coulson in the far left of the image with a quote underneath saying "This is an opportunity to build and find more homes that are refurbished"

Is ESG investment a solution to the homelessness crisis? Find out what our expert panel concluded

16th December 2021

Capital Letters and Inside Housing magazine brought together leading experts to discuss new investment models to increase housing supply and helping low-income families access the private rented sector. Find out what they concluded.

Demand for properties in London is growing strongly again, which is bad news for low-income families in temporary accommodation or at risk of being made homeless. That’s why Capital Letters has been developing a separate business to increase the supply of rented properties available to low-income families in London. 

We are in advanced talks with three property investment companies, including QSix, looking to develop long-term portfolios. Our business plan is based on around £1.5bn of investment over four years to create up to 4,000 additional rental properties at below-market and affordable rents.

By aggregating their future demand through Capital Letters, our member councils in London have created a single, simplified investment opportunity that will help to tackle the homelessness crisis head-on. Private capital investors are increasingly looking for investment with “environmental, social and governance” (ESG) returns.

Capital Letters sponsored a roundtable event hosted by Inside Housing magazine, which brought together leading local government, housing and investment figures to explore the potential of new public/private investment models to tackle the homeless crisis.

“I think that Capital Letters is potentially a game-changer by providing pan-London access for institutional capital,” said Ben Stirling, co-head of affordable housing at QSix.

Read the full report on the event here.

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