A new scheme is being launched for County Durham landlords to help them find solutions to tenancy-related issues.

Stop B4 You Serve is a new initiative from Durham County Council which is aimed at private landlords who are considering serving an eviction notice on their tenants.

As the government announced it will lift the ban on evictions this weekend, from Monday the council is anticipating a surge in applications to the courts and wants to prevent unnecessary evictions and resulting homelessness.

The Stop B4 You Serve scheme is a free specialist service for landlords who are considering seeking possession of properties. The service looks to find landlords alternative solutions to tenancy-related issues while helping them avoid the costly and lengthy process of serving an eviction notice.

Stop B4 You Serve may be able to help landlords with:

• Non-payment of rent (coronavirus and non-coronavirus related rent arrears)

• Assistance with benefit applications

• Provide mediation services between landlords and tenants

• Help with other tenancy related issues

The council recognises the importance of early intervention work, with both landlords and tenants, to help avoidance of a section 21 or section 8 notice being issued or assist once this has been served.

The specialist service includes:

• Rent arrears assistance through establishing repayment plans and reviewing benefits available to the tenant

• A financial assessment of tenants to maximise income and reduce debts

• A mediation service between landlord and tenants

• Help and advice on planned moves

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We are committed to preventing homelessness in the county and we want to work with landlords to avoid the costly and lengthy process of serving an eviction notice and help find a solution for both parties before it is too late.

“The effects of the coronavirus outbreak have significantly impacted the personal and financial situations of many residents in the county. As the ban on evictions is expected to be lifted, we want to avoid a surge in potential homelessness as a result of a sudden wave of evictions. We want to work with both landlords and tenants to find a more sustainable solution to any issues, keep eviction notices as a last resort, and prevent any risk of homelessness in the county.”

For further information on Stop B4 You Serve, contact the private sector housing team on 03000 268 000, via email at PRSLettings@durham.gov.uk or by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/preventeviction