1 April 2023

Life can be unpredictable. The cost-of-living crisis or a small change in circumstances can have a big impact on private tenants’ ability to pay their rent.

Let’s Talk Renting is a new campaign from the Homelessness Partnership BCP, funded by BCP Council, designed to help private tenants to stay in their home when a tenancy is at risk and prevent homelessness.

Anyone renting privately in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole should be reassured that support services and organisations are ready and waiting to help – no matter how challenging the road ahead may appear.

When a private tenancy is at risk, many questions commonly arise, such as:

I’m only just scraping by every month – what will happen if something goes wrong?

My landlord is threatening to give me notice – what can I do?

I’ve split up with my partner and I can’t afford to the rent on my own. What should I do?

I’ve got a new job and it’s changed how much I get in benefits. How will I afford my rent?

I’ve recently become unwell. How am I going to pay my rent?

I’ve lost my job. How do I get benefits and how do I survive while I’m waiting for them?

The bailiffs are here. Can I stop them from evicting me?

To demonstrate how many of the above situations can be resolved, the Homelessness Partnership BCP has put together two real-life examples, showing how private tenants facing hardship and the prospect of eviction have been helped to remain in their homes or find alternative accommodation, thanks to help by BCP Council and local specialist support services.

1) Rapid action helps evicted family to find a new home

When a family renting privately faced homelessness as a result of eviction, local authority support services pulled out all the stops to ensure those at risk kept a roof over their heads.

In addition to being served with a Section 21 notice, leading to an unpreventable eviction, concerns were raised about the mother’s mental health and ability to safeguard her autistic son, who was missing education and engaging in substance misuse.

As a result of rapid intervention by BCP Council, the mother was provided with support to make an application to the housing register, as well as managing finances and identifying barriers to securing an alternative privately rented home.

Karen Gledhill, Senior Housing Options Officer BCP Council, said: “The mother was successful with her enquiry into alternative privately rented accommodation with her father as guarantor.

“She was, however, concerned that the property was slightly higher than she could afford. We liaised with the landlord for a 12-month tenancy at a reduced rent, as long as we provided advanced rent and deposit with a landlord incentive, which was agreed.”

Demonstrating services’ commitment to ongoing care, the family was provided with assistance to improve the relationship between mother and son, while Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) supported the son to tackle issues including substance misuse and anxiety.

2) Mother and children saved from eviction and homelessness

A mother of children with complex needs who was at risk of homelessness after being served notice has been successfully helped to stay in her property, thanks to fast intervention by BCP Council.

The council’s Support and Inclusion Service worked with the tenant and her landlord to prevent the family from being evicted.

It became apparent that the landlord had a relative with financial issues and was looking to sell the property to raise funds, while the building also needed repairs, placing further strain on the landlord’s finances.

Following advice, guidance and funding from BCP Council and the proactive efforts of the customer’s Support and Inclusion officer, Neil Lewis, BCP Council was able to help the landlord with incentive schemes, providing support to make repairs to the property.

A small, affordable rent increase agreed by all parties prevented the property from having to be sold, with a new 12-month tenancy secured after remedial work was carried out.

Steve Cannings, Senior Housing Options Officer at BCP Council, said: “This was a great piece of liaison work, supporting our customer who was threatened with homelessness while ensuring the landlord did not experience further financial difficulty.”