Chelmsford City Council is asking anyone who thinks they may be in danger of becoming homeless to contact them as early as possible.

The council’s message comes in the wake of the national coronavirus eviction ban which ended on 1 June. During the pandemic, eviction notices were extended from two months to six months as an emergency measure. Bailiffs weren’t allowed to evict tenants in rented housing if anyone in the house had Covid-19 or was self-isolating.

Now the ban has ended, landlords only need to give four months’ notice. This may reduce to two in October. Councils are now seeing a big increase in the number of tenants calling them with worries about eviction. Many have up to ten times the amount of rent arrears that would normally be seen.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, around a million households across the country currently fear losing their homes. Compared to homeowners, renters are twice as likely to worry about losing their homes in the next three months (5% vs 11%).

Chelmsford City Council offers advice to residents who are homeless or at risk of losing their home. Every year, officers prevent around 300 cases of homelessness. They can tell you what to do if you’re at risk of  being evicted, help to resolve disputes with landlords, and assist you in finding somewhere else to stay if needed.

Paul Gayler, housing manager at the city council, said, “When people think of homelessness, they often think of people sleeping on the streets – but actually, that’s a tiny minority of a much larger group which includes families, people sofa-surfing and living in unsuitable accommodation. We knew this was coming, so we’ve been working with voluntary groups and other partners to try and identify single people and families who need help so we can prevent homelessness in as many cases as possible.

“Receiving notice from a landlord can often be the first stage. Tenants must continue to pay what rent they can and in the meantime, we can often work with landlords and tenants to delay or even prevent homelessness.

“Right now, we’re receiving an increased number of calls from people who are worried about losing their homes. Unfortunately, people often call us when they are very close to actually being evicted and then it is more difficult to reach a resolution that avoids the worst happening. If you’re concerned that you may be evicted, please, please contact the council as soon as you start to have these worries. The earlier you contact us, the more can be done to help you.”

If you’re facing homelessness, get advice today on the Chelmsford City Council website or by calling 01245 606400.

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