As the restrictions on private tenancy evictions near an end, we’re writing to the city’s landlords to offer advice about the new rules coming in and ask for their continuing help to tackle homelessness in the city.
While the ban on possession action on private tenancies has been extended until 20 September, we are keen to work with landlords and tenants facing difficulties now to avoid homelessness increasing in Brighton & Hove.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, we had many positive responses from landlords to a request asking for their support to help the city’s private tenants through the pandemic.
When the restrictions are lifted, the eviction process will be different from how it was before the Covid-19 lockdown, with the new guidance focussing on avoiding evictions and preventing largescale homelessness.
We’re urging landlords and tenants to work with the council to help resolve any tenancy problems. Anyone facing problems can contact us by emailing EarlyIntervention@brighton-hove.gov.uk.
Please contact us as soon as any problems arise. This gives us more opportunity to resolve any issues successfully.
We’re also keen for landlords to work with us to provide homes for local families in need of housing.
We offer two free services to rent property through us. We can manage the properties and offer a guaranteed income 12 months a year. Further details on the options can be found on our renting your propertry through the council pages.
New guidance on evictions
The key point in the new guidance will be to continue to avoid evictions, with the government appealing to landlords not to serve notice and not to evict.
The government has now changed the minimum notice period on affected tenancies to six months from 20 September, meaning notice periods will run until at least March next year before vacant possession can be guaranteed.
Landlords and tenants are expected to discuss any difficulties they have and to try to resolve them, so that evictions become unnecessary.
This can include negotiating affordable payment plans for arrears and there is guidance on dealing with other tenancy breaches, such as anti-social behaviour.
If problems can’t be resolved, landlords and tenants are encouraged to take on formal mediation, and to contact the council’s Early Prevention Team to help prevent homelessness.
The full details of the possession action process are yet to be released for cases that do proceed to court, but a priority system is being developed to ensure that the most serious tenancy breaches are dealt with first.
New rules issued on 20 July will require landlords to reactivate any possession actions put on hold and to provide evidence that landlords have worked with tenants to resolve matters before taking legal action.
- Read further details and advice on the new rules in our ‘guidance on the changes to evictions and new rules for landlords seeking possession’ (PDF 171KB)
How the council can help
The new rules offer real opportunities to resolve problems and avoid evictions.
We can help with payment planning for arrears and ensure tenants are getting full entitlement to Housing Benefit, Universal Credit or other benefits. We can also help arrange direct rent payments to landlords in some cases.
For many residents, getting back into work will resolve the problems, and we can help to support people who have lost their jobs to return to work.
An important new requirement is to look at mediation, and the we can help with conflict resolution and mediation through independent organisations, such as the Brighton & Hove Independent Mediation Service.
The government has also issued guidance on dealing with issues of anti-social behaviour and other disputes, and the council can support landlords and tenants to resolve problems.
Keeping people safe
Councillor David Gibson, joint chair of the Housing Committee, said: “We very much welcome the extension to the ban on evictions in private rented housing, but it is not nearly long enough.
“However, the announcement requiring landlords to provide six months’ notice is an important step forward to provide more security for tenants at this difficult time.
“We have serious concerns about the effect lifting the ban will have in Brighton & Hove, where we’re already facing a huge homeless crisis.
“Our housing service and partners have been working incredibly hard to prevent residents from becoming homeless.
“I’d also like to thank the city’s private landlords for their help with that. It’s very important that we continue to do all we can to keep people safe.
“We know that many residents are struggling to cope financially, and have written to the government requesting a moratorium on Covid-19 related evictions.
“We urge landlords to join us in helping private sector tenants affected by this crisis by extending the freeze on evictions for at least six months and taking action to helping their tenants reduce rent debt.
“We’re currently housing nearly 400 homeless people in our Covid-19 emergency accommodation and are working hard to support them into more secure housing.
“This is on top of the 2,000 households already in our emergency and temporary accommodation and 8,000 households on our housing waiting list.
“Avoiding homelessness in the first place is always the best option. Our early intervention team help prevent homelessness for hundreds of households every year.
“If any landlords and tenants are facing difficulties, please do get in touch early. We all need to work together and focus on saving people’s homes.”
Councillor Gill Williams, the opposition lead for housing, said: “The lifting of the eviction ban on private tenancies will have a devasting effect on thousands of people. It’s good news that it’s been moved back to September, but it does need to go much further.
“The government must end section 21 evictions permanently as promised and issue enforcement powers, along with the guidance requiring landlords to attempt to reach negotiated settlements with tenants.
“Many people will continue to struggle financially due to Covid-19 way beyond September and we must do all we can to help.
“There’s been an incredible response across the city to support homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s crucial that the support continues to avoid homelessness increasing in Brighton & Hove.
“I join the call to ask landlords and tenants to work together and with us to prevent even more homelessness in our city.”