Call B4 You Serve recognised as best practice
Published: 22 December 2020
Councils around the country have been doing remarkable work to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19. In Derby, we’ve moved mountains – from providing business grants to community supportkeeping essential services running throughout the pandemic.
Now, Derby City Council’s Call Before You Serve (CB4YS) scheme has been identified as best practice by the Local Government Association (LGA).
Call Before You Serve is a free, specialist and impartial service for Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords, and is designed to help them avoid serving an eviction notice by dealing with tenancy issues early.
CB4YS is operated by Derby Homes on behalf of Derby City Council and provides a range of services including:
- Help creating a personalised housing plan.
- Help to resolve rent arrears and a financial assessment service.
- Advice and signposting about leasing properties to supported housing providers.
- A free, tenant-finding service for any vacant properties.
As the coronavirus pandemic put extra pressure on many people’s finances, The Coronavirus Act gave protection to renters by calling a temporary halt to eviction proceedings. As a result, landlords were left with a sudden loss of income and no means of retrieving rent arrears.
The Council took a proactive approach to counter this; focusing on prevention and alternative options for private landlords, whilst also protecting the interests of tenants and reducing the risk of homelessness.
CB4YS encourages landlords to get in touch as early as possible when they begin to experience issues with tenancies/tenants before serving an eviction notice. An officer will then investigate the case and offer potential measures that could help to re-stabilise the tenancy and prevent the notice being served.
The LGA identified several far-reaching benefits of the project including:
- Significant cost saving on temporary accommodation and bed & breakfast for evicted tenants.
- Increased signposting and uptake of Local Authority offered services such as Tenancy Deposit Schemes, social lettings schemes and Landlord accreditation.
- An increase in PRS housing supply due to increased networking with landlords.
The project has also seen more landlords willing to work with the council as the service understands their issues and provides positive outcomes for them as well as tenants. By working with CB4YS, landlords have avoided lengthy and costly legal challenges and have kept their properties filled.
Councillor Roy Webb, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Housing praised the LGA’s recognition of the scheme. He said:
It’s great that the LGA has identified our Call Before You Serve programme as best practice. We’re committed to working with both city landlords and tenants to help them work through any tenancy issues and help keep people in their homes, and support landlords to achieve secure and reliable tenancies.
It’s much easier to identify issues early in social housing, but we know that private landlords can sometime struggle to identify issues until it’s too late. This preventative service helps landlords to act before it hits crisis point and reach a better outcome for all.