Paying rent is a key part of your tenancy agreement and we take a firm, but fair approach to those who do not pay.
We recognise that tenants may suffer from money problems and can fall into arrears for lots of reasons. Your Neighbourhood Housing Officer is there to help, and you should contact us as soon as possible if you are having trouble paying your rent.
Falling behind with rent payments
If you fall behind with the rent and you are in arrears, your Housing Officer can identify benefits you may be able to claim, help you fill in claim forms and make an agreement with you to pay your arrears in instalments.
We will offer you support and help to deal with your arrears, but if our efforts to help you fail or if you break an agreement with us, we will consider taking further action. This might involve taking legal action to evict you or denying you certain rights, for example transferring or mutually exchanging your home.
If we do evict you for having rent arrears, it is unlikely that we would offer you housing again in the future, unless the outstanding arrears were cleared.
If you would like to speak with your Housing Officer about rent arrears, please contact us as soon as possible. The council works in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). For independent impartial advice, please contact the CAB direct by phone on 03444 111 444.
Rent arrears recovery
If you are in arrears, we will take a number of steps to recover the money you owe. Actions we may take include:
- writing to you, telephoning you or visiting you at home to discuss the arrears and agree the best way to deal with the problem
- serving a 'Notice of Seeking Possession', the first stage in the legal process that could lead to you losing your home
- seeking approval from the Senior Officer Panel to apply for a County Court hearing
- applying for possession in the County Court
- offering you an appointment with the Head of Housing Management if you break the terms of any court order
- seeking approval from the Senior Officer Panel to apply for eviction
- as a last resort, evicting you.
We will always check for any special circumstances before we take legal action. Our aim is to prevent rent arrears from developing and we work with support agencies, in particular the Citizens Advice Bureau, to deliver targeted advice and assistance direct from our local housing offices.
Former tenant arrears
If there are arrears on your account when the tenancy ends, we will:
- contact you to arrange for the debt to be paid
- take legal action if you do not pay the arrears
- where a tenant dies, we will discuss repayment arrangements with the next of kin.
We may refuse to re-house former tenants if they apply to us and have outstanding arrears.