Rent arrears policy
5.1 We will apply to court for a possession order where:
- The tenant has refused to get in contact with us.
- The tenant has not come to an agreement with us.
- The tenant has come to an agreement with us, but has not kept to it.
- Arrears are not reducing
We will apply to court for a possession order once the notice has expired and will notify the tenant before applying to court. We will take into account the personal circumstances of the tenant before applying to court.
5.2 We may adjourn a case on terms if we can make an agreement with the tenant before any court hearing and the agreement is made and maintained prior to the court hearing.
5.3 Under the Housing Acts 1985 there is a duty on the court to impose some form of payment on the tenant on making an adjournment, save where it would be unreasonable. We will always ask for repayment terms when agreeing to any adjournment.
5.4 We will consider the tenant’s circumstances when deciding to seek a possession order, including:
- Ability to repay the debt.
- Their benefit situation.
- Their payment history.
5.5 We will usually seek either a Suspended Possession Order (SPO) or an Outright Possession Order (OPO) from the court.
5.6 A money judgement will always be sought with any possession order, in addition to an order for costs incurred.
Alternative payment orders
5.7 Alternative ways of seeking payments may be used. However, we will not use distraint / seizure of goods.
Attachment of earnings
5.8 The tenant’s employer may be empowered to make regular deductions from the tenant’s earnings and pay them directly into their rent account.
Insolvency Arrangements – Bankruptcy, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) and Debt Relief Orders (DRO)
5.9 Where a tenant has an insolvency arrangement they remain liable to pay current rent as usual.
5.10 We do not have to write off rent arrears where bankruptcy has occurred. We may deal with repayment of rent arrears in line with this policy, and follow standard procedures for recovery action where arrangements are not kept to
5.11 The main feature of a DRO is a ban (called a moratorium) which prevents creditors pursuing debts for a period of 12 months. Tenants with a DRO are still liable to pay current rent, and any rent arrears incurred after the DRO has been made are not covered by the moratorium. We will deal with repayment of these arrears in line with this policy.
5.12 The council will only seek to evict as a last resort.
5.13 No eviction can take place without both Team Leader and Manager approval. This is something we take very seriously. We will only carry out an eviction where a county court bailiff is present and we will work with the bailiff to ensure that it is done as sensitively as possible.
5.14 We will send written notification of the date of the eviction to both the tenant and the council’s housing needs team.
5.15 We will advise all tenants to seek independent legal advice following our approval for officers to apply for an eviction.