As the Government eases restrictions on evictions put in place due to Coronavirus, tenants and landlords are being urged to call Southend-on-Sea Borough Council first.
The ‘Call before you Serve’ scheme is designed to encourage landlords and tenants to engage with the Council’s housing solution’s team to try and help resolve any issues.
Before Coronavirus, the Council has always tried to help avoid evictions take place, by liaising with landlords, offering mediation sessions to resolve problems and give financial advice to tenants. This help will continue into 2020 and beyond.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “While it was important to make sure people were not evicted from their homes during the pandemic, and especially during lockdown, there still have inevitably been problems and concerns which under different circumstances, could have resulted in evictions.
“However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we all need to be a little kinder to one another. I would urge landlords to ‘Call before you Serve’ to get the support they need and think carefully if there is another way to manage the issues affecting the tenancy, to avoid evicting residents from their homes.
“Likewise, tenants need to be assured they have rights and can speak to our advisors, who can try to liaise with their landlords and mediate to find a resolution that doesn’t involve eviction.
“We are in need of more housing in Southend, and while we work on addressing that, we still need to do all we can to make sure our residents have a secure home to live in.”
The scheme is for anyone considering issuing an S21 or S8 notice on a tenant.
The scheme offers:
- support for landlords in what can be a very stressful time.
- help to create a personalised housing plan agreed with the tenant.
- rent arrears assistance through Housing benefit services, Universal credit, local government homeless prevention funds and charities.
- a financial assessment of tenants to maximise income to help ensure success moving forward.
- referrals and signposting to specialist services for more long-term support if needed
- a mediation service between landlords, tenants and Local authorities.