Talk to us before evicting, council tells landlords

Landlords are being asked to talk to the council before evicting tenants, as the Government’s eviction ban comes to an end.

Cherwell District Council’s housing team can offer landlords support to try to avoid people being made homeless as the country comes out of the coronavirus pandemic. These include working with the landlord and their tenants to resolve rent arrears through mutually agreed repayment plans.

Courts will begin to process housing possession cases from 24th August, almost five months after the eviction ban was introduced. The council understands that judges will be factoring COVID-19 – and whether landlords have considered the impact the pandemic has had on tenants – into their decision making.

Cllr John Donaldson, Cherwell’s lead member for housing, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has put financial pressures on people due to loss of jobs and income, and that will include both landlords and tenants. We are asking anyone thinking of evicting a tenant to talk to us before serving an eviction notice. Our expert officers have advice and support to offer. We want to avoid evictions wherever possible and, with delays in court hearings expected, I should think that most landlords will feel the same way too. If eviction proceedings cannot be avoided, landlords will need to provide the courts with extra information about the effect coronavirus has had on the tenant and their family. They will have to follow possession proceedings to the letter.”

Landlords and agents are legally required to provide a minimum of three months’ notice before possession proceedings can begin. They will be expected to consider their tenants’ financial circumstances and rent arrears repayment plans before pursuing an eviction. For evictions due to arrears, the landlord must also provide a full rent history covering the last two years.

Tenants will still be protected from illegal eviction and harassment under The Protection From Eviction Act 1977. Examples of this could include physically forcing someone to leave their home, threatening behaviour or changing the locks while the tenant is out. Evictions without a bailiff warrant may also constitute an illegal eviction and the council will consider taking action for such behaviour.

The latest Government guidance can be found at:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

For advice and support, landlords and tenants can contact the council’s tenancy relations officer on 01295 227961 or Tanya.Constable@cherwell-dc.gov.uk

If you are worried you may become homeless, contact the council on 01295 753751 or homelessreferrals@cherwell-dc.gov.uk.