Calling all private sector landlords – talk to us about the alternatives to evicting tenantsPublished: 20/05/2021
Early in the pandemic the Government decided to temporarily curb the ability of private sector landlords to evict tenants. That enforced halt to evictions comes to an end on 31 May and Ashford Borough Council has been working tirelessly to try and ensure we don’t see a flood of people made homeless in the area.
The Government’s motive was to provide accommodation security to many people made redundant or furloughed by employers hit by the recession caused by the pandemic.
Well ahead of the end of the scheme, housing officers at the council have been busy helping and supporting landlords and agents with any tenants who are struggling to pay their rent or any other issues regarding the impact of the pandemic.
Ashford’s housing team first reached out to all local landlords and agents at the beginning of the pandemic, with advice on negotiating rent arrears and what to do if customers are struggling to pay the landlord.
Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council, said: “Our officers have engaged with dozens of landlords and agents, explaining the range of support that is available from us when problems arise.
“But there are many more private sector landlords in the borough we have yet to reach and I would urge them to speak to us if they think they have a problem with a tenant that may lead to eviction.”
As a result of its proactive approach, the council has succeeded in helping a number of landlords to resolve problems with tenants, avoiding situations where some people then present themselves as homeless with the authority. These examples include:
Case study 1
Ms A was referred to our Tenant Sustainment Officer after Housing Options Team helped secure permanent accommodation for her. Ms A had found herself homeless after the death of her partner and had never been responsible for a tenancy or paying rent before. Our Tenancy Sustainment Officer quickly established a good working relationship between the landlord and Ms A to help and support her with the transition into the new tenancy, which included helping her manage her rent, maximise her benefit entitlement and budget effectively.
Case study 2
Our Accommodation Officer was informed by a landlord that one of their tenants was in arrears with their rent, and eviction was being considered. The tenant, a family with two children, had been on a repayment plan to repay arrears but due to the pandemic the self-employed tenant was no longer working and was desperate to get their arrears paid off and they were worried they going to lose the house. With the tenant’s consent, the council’s welfare intervention team helped the tenant to complete an application for a discretionary housing payment to help clear the arrears and get the tenant back on track with their rent payments. The landlord has since confirmed that the application was made to address the rent arrears.
Case study 3
We were contacted by a landlord regarding a tenant who was in serious rent arrears. The tenant had previously been working but had lost their job. He did not want assistance, hoping to find a new job and get back on track. Despite his best efforts, the arrears continued and our accommodation officer spoke with the tenant and offered support but again the tenant was convinced he would shortly clear the arrears and felt any assistance was not for him and would feel a failure in his responsibilities if he accepted help. After a several months of phone calls and emails ABC eventually was able to make tenant understand that this assistance is for everybody, and made him realise that help will take the pressure off for them to focus on finding a job without the pressure of potentially being evicted. Was given permission by tenant to send all his information through to the welfare intervention team who assisted with making a universal credit claim and discretionary housing payment to clear the arrears. In February 2021 we were told by the estate agent that the tenant was overjoyed, he had been at his wits end and thankful for the support he'd received from the landlord, estate agent and the council.
Landlords - what to do if you need help resolving a problem
Ashford Borough Council says that landlords and agents should always try to maintain good relationships and communication with tenants, but we understand this is not always possible. Contact the council and raise your concerns and we will be able to look into your current situation with your tenant and give you the best possible advice, and explore reasonable solutions.
For more information contact Dan Ford, Accommodation Officer, Ashford Borough Council on 01233 330872 or 07881 825484, or email firstname.lastname@example.org