Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Nottingham

Renters facing eviction could get up to £5,000 from city council

Nottingham people at risk of homelessness due to rent arrears caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are to be helped to pay their landlords by a support scheme.

Nottingham City Council said 41 per cent of landlords reported their tenants were citing the pandemic as a reason they were struggling to pay their rent.

The local authority has accepted £271,837 from the government to help those struggling.

The impact of furlough, reduced wages or being made unemployed during the pandemic, coupled with extra pressures such as rising energy costs are significantly affecting low income families in the city.

The council said: “The private rented sector is increasingly relied upon to provide homes to households in Nottingham.

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“Securing affordable housing in the private rented sector is an ongoing challenge for low-income households as average market rents far exceed the local housing allowance level and therefore many households are subjected to a shortfall that they are required to meet to cover the rental charge.

“Currently, 17 per cent of households presenting to Nottingham City Council for a statutory housing assessment are at risk of homelessness because they have received notice on their private rented sector tenancy with a significant proportion unable to sustain the accommodation through affordability issues.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated affordability issues in the private rented sector.”

The council said that a survey conducted with local landlords in October 2020 found that even at that early stage of the pandemic, 41 per cent of landlords reported their tenants were citing the pandemic as a reason they were experiencing difficulty paying rent.

The survey also found 15 per cent of landlords stated that they intended to raise rents following the pandemic, which could possibly be due to their own “financial uncertainty and vulnerability.”

The council added: “Many households living in the private rented sector in Nottingham would have been furloughed on reduced wages or made unemployed from their sector during the pandemic and more recently additional pressures such as rising energy prices and cost of living increases have added to the financial pressures particularly faced by households already with low incomes.

“Since the lifting of the ban on evictions from the private rented sector, those who have accrued arrears during the pandemic have begun to receive notices and are facing eviction.

“At the end of October 2021, the Government Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wrote to local authorities advising of a one-off grant allocation to top-up the Homelessness Prevention Grant which was ring-fenced specifically to support low-income private renters with Covid-19 related rent arrears.

“Timescales for utilisation of the grant were short with commitment to spend required within the financial year.

“It was agreed that to meet the grant conditions the funding would be used in Nottingham to  provide flexible solutions following a statutory housing assessment.

“These will be one-off payments to individuals up to an agreed maximum amount, but not exceeding £5,000.

“And to bolster delivery of existing financial related advice services in Nottingham to enable provision of targeted wraparound support to address the arrears and prevent them from reoccurring.”

The grant was accepted under a delegated decision – which means it happened outside of a council meeting.

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