Help and advice available for landlords and tenants
Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Citizens Advice are sending a joint message to landlords and tenants encouraging them to access the support and advice they need as soon as possible.
People privately renting facing a reduction in their income or who are facing difficulty budgeting and struggling to pay rent are being urged to seek advice and help not to suffer in silence.
Landlords are being reminded of the latest government advice and urged to make contact with their tenants who may be experiencing difficulties and direct them to help if appropriate.
Currently no eviction notices can be served until 11 January 2021 and given the 14-day notice period required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January 2021 at the earliest, unless in very exceptional circumstances.
Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Citizens Advice have additionally written a letter to known private landlords with the latest government advice urging them to seek support if needed.
The letter also contains details about their responsibilities as landlords, the green homes scheme and where they can access help.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing Communities said: "We know there will be people out there who are at risk of or have lost their jobs or are finding their circumstances very different due to COVID or indeed other factors.
"We understand it is easy to get into a downward spiral, feel overwhelmed and not ask for help. We wanted to let you know that help is out there and we're asking people to reach out and access it so they can move forward and be supported. People should be assured that they won't be judged in any way. The main priority is to provide help and ease that heavy burden of worry that could be keeping them awake at night.
"We also encourage landlords to be up to date with the latest advice and approach tenants if they are concerned about their ability to keep up their rent payments rent to avoid problems further down the line."
Suzanne Wigmore, CEO of Wiltshire Citizens Advice said: "If you are a tenant struggling to pay rent or a landlord who has tenants who are struggling to pay, please do get in touch with us for advice. There are many ways that we can help with rental payments including access to welfare benefits, discretionary funds, and support with debt advice. We provide free independent advice to anyone in Wiltshire who needs it, and around 1 in every 11 households across Wiltshire come to us for help every year."
Tenants who have difficulties are advised to:
• Contact Wiltshire Council's housing options team on firstname.lastname@example.org if they are threatened with homelessness or are struggling financially.
• Contact Wiltshire Citizens Advice. Wiltshire Citizens Advice provides free, independent advice and can be contacted via the local website or on 0800 144 88 48. Tenants can also get advice from the national website.
• If income has reduced including if the tenant is working or has been furloughed they may be able to get welfare benefits to claim help with housing costs. People can use the Citizens Advice national website to check what benefits they may be entitled to If rent cannot be paid,
as a landlord you may agree to reduce the rent to help maintain the tenancy
• There are also a range of tools on the Citizens Advice national website to check what help tenants can get if they are struggling to pay household bills.