From empty shell to Micro Rainbow safe house

Ever wanted to learn more about the process of finding, renovating and opening a safe house?
From empty shell to Micro Rainbow safe house

Property search

The Micro Rainbow team has a few different ways of finding houses that are can be turned into safe housing for LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers.

Once a suitable area is pinpointed, local estate agents are a good initial place to look; they have good knowledge about the local area and the kinds of properties on the market. Property search websites like, such as Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market are also a great resource searching across the country. 

Micro Rainbow’s housing programme has been in operation since 2017, so on occasion, estate agents also approach Micro Rainbow with houses they think might be suitable for a safe house.

Property search

Researching the local area

After deciding on a potential property, the team will do more research about the local area. They will look at transport links for the property. This would include how easy it would be for residents to get to local shops and amenities, how easy it might be for residents to reach their Home Office or solicitor appointments etc. 

The team would also look at how friendly the area might be to LGBTQI people. The same goes for race relations in the area, and whether they are welcoming to refugees. This research helps Micro Rainbow understand the suitability of the area for LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers. 

New house process for website 1

Once the house is purchased

It can take many months complete the process of buying a house, but once it is purchased, contracts are signed and keys are exchanged, the turn around can be quite rapid!

Micro Rainbow has trusted contractors that we use for renovations and building work. They move in quickly and do the necessary work to get the house up to the required standard.

Depending on the state of the property when it was acquired, it may need extensive work to fulfil the requirements of Micro Rainbow’s safe housing programme.

For properties in good states of repair, minor repairs and repainting may be all that is needed. In some cases, a full renovation is required. Rooves may need replacing, as well kitchen and bathroom, the whole house might need to be replastered, carpets installing and eventually a coat of paint. 

Micro Rainbow safehouses adhere to regulations for bedroom sizing: 6.51 square metres for an adult. This means that on occasion, walls may need to be taken down and moved to ensure that rooms are big enough. Bedrooms with have locks installed on the doors, and curtains or blinds will be put up on the bedroom windows.

Electrical and gas fittings throughout the house will be checked and, if necessary, brought up to code or replaced.

Regulations for letting to occupants

Most, but not all, of Micro Rainbow’s safe houses can accommodate four residents so are classed as Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). However, all of Micro Rainbow’s safe houses (even the smaller capacity houses) abide by HMO regulations. 

In line with these regulations, Micro Rainbow provides:

  • A gas safety certificate every year.
  • Working smoke alarms for every inhabited storey.
  • If requested, a declaration that electrical appliances and furniture are safe.
  • Written statement of the terms of occupancy to tenants.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm in every inhabited room with a gas or oil heater.
  • A declaration from a qualified electrician that electrical fittings are safe.
  • Bedrooms that are at least:
    • 51 sq metres for a room used by one person aged 10 or over.
Renovations start! To do list 1. new bathroom; 2. replace kitchen; 3. new boiler. Pictures of ongoing renovations in the houses
Time to furnish the house: A bed with pride flags lain across it

Furnishing the house

After the building work is completed, Micro Rainbow works with a furniture supplier to furnish the house for the new residents. Each bedroom contains a single bed, wardrobe, and a chest of drawers.

The shared living area will contain sofas and a dining table with four chairs, an iron and an ironing board. The kitchen is outfitted with a cooker and white goods, and smaller appliances like a kettle, toaster, and microwave. Micro Rainbow might also supply pots and pans and other utensils.

Many of these smaller items are purchased by supporters through our Amazon wish list. The wish list also contains other non-essential items that make the house more homely and welcoming for residents. This includes art for the walls, games for the communal areas, cleaning products and other items.


Moving in

The final stage – welcoming new residents into the safe house!

Most Micro Rainbow safe houses accommodate four people. Once the house is furnished and signed off, new residents can begin to move in. Each new resident receives a welcome pack, containing:

  • 1 x single duvet
  • 1 x single duvet cover
  • 2 x pillow (prepacked)
  • 2 x pillowcase
  • 1 x mattress protector
  • 1 x fitted sheet
  • 1 x pride flag
  • 1 x towel set
Welcoming residents to their new home. Welcome pack: 1. pillows and duvet; 2. set of towels; 3. bedding. Man opening a front door with keys

The situation in 2023

Nearly six years on, we are proud to say that Micro Rainbow runs 20 safe houses for LGBTQI asylum seekers, spread across the UK. But 2023 has brought with it an unprecedented cost of living crisis. The cost of energy bills, council tax and essential utilities for our safe houses are spiralling. We need your help more than ever to continue to keep LGBTQI asylum seekers safe and secure.

This Pride Month, make a commitment to LGBTQI people fleeing persecution. Become a Micro Rainbow ally and help us cover the rising cost of bills.

Help us continue supporting LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers

This Pride Month, make a commitment to LGBTQI people fleeing persecution. Become a Micro Rainbow ally and help us cover the rising cost of bills.

Do you have a housing enquiry?


Rainbow lanterns

The Invisible Women

On the occasion of International Women’s Week, Micro Rainbow announces a project dedicated to supporting LBTI asylum seeking and refugee women.