LEICESTER City Council has launched a new advice service for landlords who may be having problems with their tenants.
The aim is to help prevent tenants from being evicted and landlords from having to take costly and time-consuming court action, by resolving any problems before they get to that stage.
Changes in housing legislation under the Coronavirus Act meant landlords were not able to start eviction proceedings against any tenants while the national lockdown was in place. This has recently changed, so that landlords can now start eviction proceedings again – but they have to give an extended notice period of six months to a tenant if they want to regain possession of a property.
The council’s new service is designed to support landlords where their tenants are not fulfilling their legal obligations, or where financial difficulties have developed. It will focus on preventing homelessness by helping tenants who are renting privately to sustain their tenancies, making sure that landlords can rest assured on matters of income.
Assistant city mayor for housing, Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, said: “The council may be the biggest landlord in the city, but many of our most vulnerable residents rent from private landlords. We recognise that this sector has a very big part to play in meeting the needs of some of those who are most in need of a housing solution.
“We rely on the support of responsible private landlords to help us provide homes, so it’s vital that we grow and maintain good relationships with landlords, as part of an overall housing strategy that also includes building more council homes.
“We also want to protect tenants and prevent them from potential homelessness. We can do this by offering landlords advice and assistance if they are having problems, finding solutions other than court action. Landlords will be able to use our service at any time, so that we can tackle problems before things get to eviction stage.”
Examples of the sort of help the service can provide include mediation and negotiation between tenants and landlords, facilitating payments to sustain tenancies in certain cases, or arranging for discretionary payments to solve affordability problems. The team also has strong links with universal credit and housing benefit services.
To use the service, landlords should email firstname.lastname@example.org and include as much information as possible about the situation, plus details of a preferred method of contact. One of the council’s team of skilled and experienced advisors will then make contact within five working days, or sooner wherever possible.
The city council’s housing solutions service is also asking more socially-minded landlords in Leicester to consider providing affordable private rented tenancies to people at risk of becoming homeless.
Landlords who work with the team can benefit from a range of support schemes from the council, offering vetted tenants, regular communication and tenancy welfare checks, as well as rent guarantees and damage agreements. A pilot of the schemes has resulted in the doubling of numbers housed in the private sector by Leicester City Council, and positive feedback from both tenants and landlords.
A range of options is available for landlords to consider, from a leased fully managed service, through to more light-touch solutions to overcome initial tenancy starting costs. To find out more, email privatesectorofficer@Leicester.gov.uk or call 0116 454 1008.
To find out more about housing in Leicester, go to www.leicester.gov.uk/housing