With the cost of living soaring and the effects of the pandemic ongoing, councils in Kent have been given a £2.5m boost to help prevent homelessness.
The government grant will help tackle rent arrears that have built up as a direct result of Covid-19. Each of the 12 Local Authorities in Kent has been awarded £175,000, thanks to a successful bid by Kent Housing Group to Kent County Council for the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF).
Although councils will be focusing on supporting the prevention of homelessness of private rented sector tenants, there is support available for other forms of tenure, including social housing and owner-occupiers, to enhance the existing help and processes that are in place for these households.
Sharon Williams, Chair of Kent Housing Group, which is a forum for housing organisations in Kent and Medway, said: “The pandemic has hit people hard and with the uplift in Universal Credit coming to an end, this funding could not have come at a better time. There is a myth that councils cannot help private sector landlords until tenants have been evicted but this simply isn’t true.
“Our goal is to intervene as early as possible, keeping people in their homes while supporting landlords to recover from the loss of rental payments where tenants have fallen into arrears. This will also help to contain Covid outbreaks by preventing households from becoming homeless or resulting in insecure and transient housing arrangements.”
A website has been launched at www.supportforkentlandlords.co.uk which provides advice and enables landlords to find the relevant details for their local council.
The COMF funding must be used by 31 March 2022 but ongoing support will be available after this time.
Sharon Williams added: “Although this particular funding has a time limit, councils across Kent and Medway will continue to have dedicated staff available to help landlords resolve difficulties with their tenants. They can help negotiate to find solutions and can advise on everything from tackling anti-social behaviour and tenants not looking after a property to requesting direct benefit payments.”
For more information, visit www.supportforkentlandlords.co.uk.Back