“As soon as my employer’s London office closed in March and I moved back to the family home in Cheshire, I knew I wouldn’t be using my flat in Chelsea,” explains landlord Philip Hillman, “so I called the managing agent and asked if they could offer it to someone deserving for free.”
Managing agent Altido had just become involved in the Homes for NHS scheme and, within 48 hours, had found Philip an NHS tenant – a medical researcher at one of the London hospitals who wasn’t able to stay at home with her vulnerable parent.
He, like many of Altido’sclients, is part of the initiative, hooking up medical staff with free accommodation so they can stay nearer hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak.
A chartered surveyor, Philip has rented out his one-bedroom Chelsea mews flat for the last three years, spending a few days there each week.
But during the lockdown he’s been working and joining in with community groups, delivering meals and shopping for those isolating in his village.
He says: “In the village there’s a direct way of helping people and coming together as a community, but it’s harder to do that in London.
“To have this set-up was great and made me feel I was part of something – I could help someone focus their energies on getting an important job done.”
He waived his NHS tenant’s utility bills during her stay where she was free to use his Amazon TV and Netflix accounts.
“She sent me two emails saying how grateful she was, which was nice, but I felt it was only fair to keep to the spirit of the enterprise.”
And although he was happy for her to stay on, after two months, the researcher is moving out this weekend, and a commercial tenant is moving in. He adds: “It’s been an easy experience and I’d be happy to do the same again if there’s ever a need.”