5 March 2024

Private tenants who are struggling with rent arrears or at risk of eviction can now gain free, professional advice via a new, dedicated telephone support line.

The helpline is an expansion of the Homelessness Partnership BCP’s Let’s Talk Renting initiative, which launched last April.

Let’s Talk Renting is a major, multi-agency homelessness prevention initiative across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Since the campaign’s launch in 2023, private tenants have had to register online for a call-back, via the Homelessness Partnership BCP’s website (www.hpbcp.org/lets-talk-renting)

Now, thanks to funding from the Government’s Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund, delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund and secured by Citizens Advice BCP, the new Let’s Talk Renting telephone advice line has become reality.

Private tenants experiencing hardship can speak directly to experts at Let’s Talk Renting on 01202 985104. The service is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Preventing evictions

With the housing crisis escalating across the UK, Let’s Talk Renting recognises that private tenants face the greatest risk of losing their homes.

Once served with notice to quit, people renting privately can quickly become homeless if they’re unable to find alternative private accommodation.

According to national homelessness charity Crisis, eviction from privately rented homes is the leading cause of homelessness in England.

While inflation dropped to 4% in January from its peak of 11.1% in October 2022, the decrease has offered little respite for private tenants struggling with the cost of living.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK surpassed the rate of inflation, rising by 6.1% in the 12 months to October 2023.

Zoe Bradley, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice BCP, which runs the Let’s Talk Renting service, said: “When people renting their home privately are hit by a whirlwind of rising food costs, spiralling energy bills and soaring rents, there is nothing more reassuring than to be able to pick up the phone and hear the words: ‘We can help’.

“With affordable, privately rented properties in short supply, supporting people to remain in their homes is the best way to prevent homelessness. We say to anyone who is anxious about their financial predicament – you’re not alone – please call our helpline as soon as possible and our dedicated advisors will work with you to explore every option to get your tenancy back on track.”

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council recognises that families who receive support and assistance early, if they’re worried about their housing, experience less than half as many episodes of homelessness than people who don’t.

Cllr Kieron Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Regulatory Services, BCP Council, said: “We know that it is a really difficult time for people – inflation and the rising cost of living have led to many not being able to afford their housing costs.

“Our message to private tenants who are worried is clear – we have an excellent partnership of support services in the area who will do everything in their power to help people keep a roof over their heads. So, if you are worried or at risk of losing your home, please call Let’s Talk Renting at the earliest opportunity.”

In addition to rent arrears and Section 21 (no fault) eviction notices, advisors at Let’s Talk Renting can support with a host of issues, including damp and mould, disrepair, benefits claims, budgeting advice and dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Let’s Talk Renting can be contacted on 01202 985104. www.hpbcp.org/lets-talk-renting