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Housing Needs Newsletter - November 2020

Published: 27 November 2020

Housing Needs Housing Needs Newsletter

It has been a year since our last newsletter and like everyone else we have been adapting to life under Covid 19.

Even before the pandemic we were kept busy getting to grips with a new IT system which was introduced just before Christmas 2019. Then in mid-March we had to significantly adapt our way of working as the first wave of Covid 19 hit and our entire team was largely required to work from home. We did however maintain a much reduced presence at the Civic Centre in order to deal with homeless households who had no access to alternative methods of contacting us. We hope this newsletter will let you know what we have been doing for the last year and what challenges we will be dealing with over the next few months. In particular we are looking for landlords to work with our Housing Access Team and there is a generous package of incentives available to landlords. Please see more information on this scheme below or contact the Housing Access Team by e-mail:

COVID 19 - Everybody In

Towards the end of March, as part of the government's Covid 19 strategy, Local Authorities (LAs) in England were instructed by the government to accommodate all rough sleepers in their area. LAs were given less than a week to achieve this. This was particularly challenging as many hotels closed down during the initial three-month 'lockdown', meaning that we had to source alternative accommodation for some of our existing clients as well as sourcing accommodation under the Everybody In directive. In all, over 102 people have been accommodated under the Everybody In scheme. Of these, 70 have already moved on in a variety of ways: moving in with friends or family, or into their own accommodation through a mix of private renting, social housing or supported accommodation. Unfortunately, 22 lost or abandoned their emergency accommodation, and 10 remain in emergency Covid accommodation.

The Council has been successful in sourcing significant government funding. In September, ECC were awarded £440,000 from the Next Steps Accommodation Programme. This funding will enable the Council and its partners to help vulnerable people who have been housed during the pandemic, such as:

  • We can continue to provide accommodation to the remaining 42 people accommodated under the Covid-19 arrangements until the end of March 2021 and extend the offer to people rough sleeping when vacancies come up
  • Provide dedicated support for those accommodated in hotels
  • Provide a Private Rented Deposit Scheme to help 25 people access private rented accommodation. This will be match-funded by the Council.

We have also been awarded funds for a Capital programme, which will enable the creation of some long-term move on accommodation with dedicated support. The accommodation will be a mixture of self-contained properties, studio flats, en-suite rooms and smaller houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).

Calling All Landlords

The need for long-term housing solutions in the private rented sector continues to be a priority for Exeter City Council to help people that are homeless or are at risk of homelessness. Thank you to all of those landlords who are already working with the Housing Access Team. However, with the impacts of Covid-19 putting more people at risk of losing their homes, the Council still needs more accommodation.

Do you have a property to rent to someone at risk of homelessness?

The Housing Access Team continued to work throughout the 12-week Covid-19 'lockdown' and were able to help 45 potentially homeless families to secure tenancies in the private rented sector, but we need more landlords than ever working with the Council’s in house private lettings team. We want to achieve sustainable tenancies that work for both landlords and tenants. Our generous package of support includes:

  • Up-front cash incentives to landlords
  • Deposit and rent in advance
  • Finding the right tenant for you, but you retain full control over who moves into your property
  • Guidance on legal obligations
  • Ongoing support for landlords and tenants

For more information about the scheme, visit our Landlord Incentive Scheme webpage or you can contact the Housing Access Team directly by email:

Or by phone on 01392 265727 or 01392 265819

Important Information for Tenants and Landlords

Evictions suspended during current 'lockdown'
The government has updated non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector to take into account the new restrictions in place between 5 November and 2 December. Renters will be further protected from eviction during the current national 'lockdown'.

The key measures are:

  • Evictions will not be enforced while national 'lockdown' restrictions are in place
  • Bailiffs have been requested not to enforce evictions from 5 November until 11 January at the earliest, except in the most serious circumstances*
  • The current six-month notice periods will remain in place until at least the end of March 2021, except for the most serious cases

*The Christmas eviction suspension will run from Friday 11 December to Monday 11 January.

If you have tenants at risk of losing their tenancies due to non payment of rent, then act now! Speak to your tenant and advise them to speak to our Housing Needs service. We can help!

Do you need housing advice?

Our housing advice service continued to operate throughout the 'lockdown' period with the vast majority of our work being carried out by phone and web based services. We have continued to have a physical presence at the civic centre during normal working hours but this is only available to homeless clients with no access to phone or IT services. The numbers of people seeking advice has remained at around the same levels throughout the last year.

If you have any concerns about the possibility of becoming homeless advice please contact us via the Housing Advice page on the Exeter City Council website.

The sooner you come to us for advice, the earlier we are able to prevent you from becoming homeless. We are here to help!

Christmas Closedown

The Civic Centre will be closing at noon on Christmas Eve, 24 December and will not be reopening until Monday 4 January. As usual, an emergency out-of-hours homelessness service will be operating during this period.

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