PRIVATE tenants who are struggling with rent arrears or at risk of eviction can now gain free, professional advice. 

A dedicated helpline has now gone live as part of an expansion of Homelessness Partnership BCP's Let’s Talk Renting initiative, launched last April. 

Let's Talk Renting is a major, multi-agency homelessness prevention initiative across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. 

Private tenants experiencing hardship can speak directly to experts at Let’s Talk Renting on 01202 985104. The service is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. 

Once served with notice to leave, people renting privately can quickly become homeless if they're unable to find alternative private accommodation. 

According to national homelessness charity Crisis, eviction from privately rented homes is the leading cause of homelessness in England. 

Office for National Statistics figures show private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK surpassed the rate of inflation, rising by 6.1 per cent in the 12 months to October 2023. 

Zoe Bradley, chief executive of Citizens Advice BCP, said: "When people renting their home privately are hit by a whirlwind of rising food costs, spiralling energy bills and soaring rents, there is nothing more reassuring than to be able to pick up the phone and hear the word ‘we can help’. 

"With affordable, privately rented properties in short supply, supporting people to remain in their homes is the best way to prevent homelessness.  

“We say to anyone who is anxious about their financial predicament - you're not alone - please call our helpline as soon as possible and our dedicated advisors will work with you to explore every option to get your tenancy back on track." 

Cllr Kieron Wilson, portfolio holder for housing and regulatory services, said: "We know that it is a really difficult time for people – inflation and the rising cost of living have led to many not being able to afford their housing costs. 

"Our message to private tenants who are worried is clear – we have an excellent partnership of support services in the area who will do everything in their power to help people keep a roof over their heads.” 

In addition to rent arrears and Section 21 (no fault) eviction notices, advisors at Let's Talk Renting can support with a host of issues, including damp and mould, disrepair, benefits claims, budgeting advice and dealing with anti-social behaviour.