Renters and landlords in north Oxfordshire are being reminded that there are a range of alternatives to eviction, as the council welcomes a further extension of the national eviction ban. The government has announced that bailiffs will not be able to issue eviction warrants until 31 March. Instead, landlords should look at options such as temporary rent reductions, mediation and possible financial support for their tenants.
Councillor John Donaldson, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Housing, said: “We are glad to see a further stay on evictions as we come to the end of this very difficult winter and look forward to spring. The virus and lockdown measures have made it harder for some people to maintain their tenancies but our message to both them and their landlords is that there is advice and support on hand.
“There are a range of alternatives to eviction. In particular, we are highlighting the Housing Possession Mediation Pilot Scheme. This is an independently-run service which offers a new way of resolving possession cases before they get to a court hearing.”
The mediation scheme is funded by the government and is being run independently by the Society of Mediators. Sessions will be conducted by telephone, email, WhatsApp or Zoom and can be a way for parties to resolve disputes without the stress of going to court.
In general, landlords have to give their tenants six months’ notice if they plan to evict them. However, the exact amount of notice required will depend on the type of tenancy and the reason the landlord is pursuing eviction. Landlords and agents can still serve notice and make possession applications to the courts. There are some exemptions to the eviction ban for the most serious cases. These include anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, fraud, and domestic abuse in social housing.
When courts do hear cases, the landlord will need to demonstrate to the courts that they have considered the effect of the pandemic on tenants and their families. Tenants faced with eviction can seek advice from the council’s tenancy relations officer, Citizens Advice or Shelter. If the threat of eviction is due to arrears, tenants may be eligible to claim discretionary housing payments to help keep them in their homes.
For further information visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/housingpayment or landlords and tenants can contact the council’s tenancy relations officer on 01295 227961 or Tanya.Constable@cherwell-dc.gov.uk for advice and support.