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An innovative pilot aiming to reduce evictions by providing free mediation between private landlords and tenants in Portsmouth will run to the end of December 2021.

The pilot scheme, run by Portsmouth Mediation Service on behalf of Portsmouth City Council, will offer free, independent advice and support for both landlords and tenants that find themselves at odds on a range of topics, including rent arears and repairs.

Cllr Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness, said: “I’m pleased to share the great news about this pilot. This is a really challenging time – the economic impact of pandemic has begun to bite, recent reductions to Universal Credit and rising gas and electricity prices are going to place a huge strain on the household budgets of the estimated 30,000 people living in privately rented accommodation in the city.

“Our ambitious and radical strategy for the private rental sector is about making sure there are mechanisms in place to prevent homelessness and provide safe, stable accommodation for tenants – and this is one of the ways we hope to achieve that.”

Findings from the pilot will be used to inform future plans to support both landlords and tenants in the city. Research carried out to inform the council’s Private Rental Sector Strategy showed that around one in six of Portsmouth’s landlords fell into it by accident. There are often similarities between what tenants and landlords need, and it is hoped that this common ground will help the mediation service to find ways of managing conflicts when things don’t go to plan.

Steve Rolls from Portsmouth Mediation Service said: “The service is designed to help landlords and tenants find a solution in the early stages of any particular problem. Whatever the difficulty, our skilled team will use a restorative approach to facilitate positive communication and help repair relationships so that everyone concerned can achieve a better outcome.

“The team are also very well connected to many specialist support organisations across Portsmouth and can point people in the right direction for specific practical help and guidance.”

The mediation service is available to any landlord or tenant in the private sector. Email steve@portsmouthmediationservice.org.uk or call 07958 473474 to access the service. Full details can be found at portsmouth.gov.uk/landlord-tenant-mediation