Banbury area residents should seek help as soon as possible if they are at risk of homelessness council urges - as court cases on house possession begin again

Those at risk of homelessness in Banburyshire should seek support as soon as possible, with courts beginning to hear housing possession cases once again.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:41 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:42 am
Housing officers at Cherwell District Council HQ, Bodicote House (pictured), are on band to help those at risk of homelessness
Housing officers at Cherwell District Council HQ, Bodicote House (pictured), are on band to help those at risk of homelessness

Cherwell District Council’s housing team offers a range of support, such as help applying to the housing register, assistance with rent arrears and advice for those facing eviction.

Councillor Lucinda Wing, Lead Member for Housing, said: “The ban on evictions may have ended but our ambition to make homelessness history in north Oxfordshire is not going away.

“The prospect of losing one’s home is devastating but help is at hand. Regardless of your background or circumstances, our housing experts have a comprehensive range of support to offer and this is best delivered sooner rather than later.”

For people worried that they will lose their home due to rent arrears, the council can work with landlords to put repayment plans in place, and for anyone eligible, discuss discretionary housing payments to prevent eviction.

There are also incentives for private landlords to work with the council to place those at risk of homelessness into accommodation.

Although the government eviction ban ended on May 31, longer notice periods are still in place; a minimum of four months in most cases. Tenants are protected from illegal eviction and harassment under The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the council will investigate this and take action where appropriate.

The council is also working to raise awareness of third-party schemes designed to keep people in their homes. The Housing Possession Mediation Pilot Scheme is independently run by the Society of Mediators, offering a new way of resolving possession cases before they get to a court hearing.

Also on offer is Breathing Space, a new initiative which gives people struggling with problem debt 60 days to get their finances back on track, without debts piling up, worrying letters, or enforcement action.

During that period, they have legal protection from creditors and are offered professional debt advice. For eligible people in mental health crisis treatment, these protections will be available for the full duration of their crisis treatment plus another 30 days.

Cherwell District Council’s support for people at risk of homelessness or sleeping rough also includes funding to Connection Support, which provides outreach services and refers people to the Adult Homeless Pathway.

And as part of the council’s response to the pandemic, it has used government funding to secure up to 17 new units of accommodation for single people who were rough sleeping or at risk of this.

Tenants faced with eviction can seek advice from the council’s tenancy relations officer, Citizens Advice or Shelter.

Anyone worried that they may become homeless is invited to contact the council on 01295 753751 or [email protected]

And to access information about the housing register, the tenancy relations officer, homelessness support and other housing services, visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/housing