We recognise the need to help our tenants maintain prompt and regular payments, preventing them from getting into rent arrears. It is important to understand that all tenants must pay their rent in full and on time. Most of our tenants do pay their rent on time, but sometimes payments are missed.
Although we take a firm approach to tenants who are persistent non payers, for those who are legitimately in financial hardship, and who co-operate fully with our arrears team, we will offer a reasonable repayment plan to every tenant who gets into arrears.
In order to mitigate the impact of welfare reform we will, where possible, work with tenants to ensure that they have appropriate advice and support to avoid getting into debt and work with Local Authorities in sharing data to make sure we maintain our records as accurate and up to date as possible.
We have a firm and robust approach on rent collection and arrears recovery. If a tenant falls into arrears, we will progress them through the arrears procedure quickly to ensure that where possible the debt arising is dealt with as quickly as possible. The Group’s view, which is mirrored in our procedures, is that early intervention will give you the best chance possible of making arrangements to repay the amount outstanding before it escalates into a problem debt. This will ensure tenancies are sustainable in the longer term.
If you are having any difficulty in paying your rent, please make sure you contact us as soon as possible and ask to speak to a member of our Arrears Team. If you clear your arrears or keep to your agreed payments we will take no further action.
Our arrears team is divided into three sections:
- Early Intervention
- Arrears Recovery
This structure enables arrears cases to be moved consistently and quickly though the recovery process. This process is as follows:
1-3 weeks arrears
Initial warning letter(s) / telephone and text contact
4 weeks arrears
Notice of seeking pocession (NSP) / telephone and text contact
7 weeks arrears
Warning letter of court action
9 weeks arrears
Court application made
Our arrears team will try to establish and maintain a relationship with tenants is arrears providing sound advice at every stage. We use a system of both personal touch and automated contact to ensure:
- we use our existing resources as effectively as possible
- contact is attempted to all those requiring it which continues regardless of staff resources available, through the automated contact system.
We ensure that all our staff are fully and appropriately trained and have the right level of knowledge to ensure that you receive the most appropriate advice.
If a tenant faces money problems and struggling to pay their rent, they can talk to our Arrears Team. Although we consider rent arrears to be a priority debt, we will take into consideration other debts and commitments when arranging for arrears to be paid off.
Our arrears team can help tenants by:
- Advising them on welfare benefits or Housing Benefits they may be entitled to and help them apply for these benefits.
- Putting tenants in touch with other agencies that can offer support such as Citizens advice Bureau or Welfare Rights.
- Setting up a voluntary arrangement for tenants to pay regular amounts off their arrears.
They can also help tenants with:
- Negotiating with companies they owe money to in order to agree repayment plans.
- Provide advice on obtaining a bank account.
- Provide money advice and the best way of paying bills.
- General advice on financial inclusion
All discussions about financial circumstances will be dealt with in confidence and we will seek the tenant's consent before sharing any information. There are some circumstances where we are obliged to share information with a third party due to legal requirements.
The Group makes every effort to contact tenants in arrears. We prioritise early intervention as the best method of ensuring tenancies are sustainable in the longer term. We facilitate automated call companies to place daily calls to tenants in arrears at different time slots, send text messages and letters in order to get in touch.
The automated system of contact will at a minimum ensure that all cases have had attempted contact each day for a minimum of 4 weeks. At every contact, the services of the Financial Inclusion Team are offered.
Where appropriate our arrears officer will visit any tenant in arrears at their property. We record all discussions regarding arrears on the Group’s housing management system.
If a tenant fails to keep to agreements made or does not respond when we try to contact them, there may be no alternative but to commence court action against them, which could lead to their eviction.
Court action begins with us issuing a legal document called a Notice Seeking Possession (for Assured Tenancies). This document does not mean that the tenant in arrears has to leave their home, but it is the first stage in legal action to recover the arrears and/or repossess the property. If the tenant begins to make payments towards clearing their arrears the case will not proceed to court. However, if agreed payments are missed we will proceed with court action.
Going to court is a serious matter and can lead to:
- An order to clear the arrears and pay our legal costs.
- A County Court Judgment (CCJ) against any tenant in arrears, which may affect their credit rating in the future.
We will continue to try and make contact with any tenant in arrears and agree a suitable repayment plan before the case is heard in court.
- The court will be told if a repayment agreement has been set up.
- We will seek an adjournment order through the court; this is an agreement for the repayment of any arrears.
- If the tenant defaults on the court order, they will receive a final warning and eviction proceedings will follow.
- If a suspended possession order is granted, the tenant will receive a letter from the County Court telling them what repayments they need to make to prevent an Eviction Warrant.
- If the case results in eviction, the Council may regard the tenant as intentionally homeless and will have no statutory responsibility to re-house them.
Last updated 01/07/2014
Please send Feedback
Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 01/07/2014 11:51:49
Comment: Updated article following updates to the Policy on the May 2014 round of Board Meetings.Details: (show)
Chapter titled "Overview" content changed.
Chapter title changed from "Falling behind with your rent" to "Falling behind with rent payments".
Chapter titled "Falling behind with rent payments" content changed.
Chapter title changed from "Court Action and Repayment" to "Help is at hand".
Chapter titled "Help is at hand" order changed from "3" to "4".
Chapter titled "Help is at hand" content changed.
Chapter title changed from "The Income Team" to "Contact".
Chapter titled "Contact" order changed from "4" to "5".
Chapter titled "Contact" content changed.
New Chapter added; title:"Our arrears team and process " image:"" order:"3".
New Chapter added; title:"Court Action and Repayment " image:"" order:"6".
Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 25/03/2014 13:37:20
Comment: Annual review, no changes required.
Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 20/09/2012 12:58:56
Comment: Improved content to link articles on Money Advice/financial inclusion and Welfare benefits.Details: (show)
Chapter titled "Overview" content changed.
Chapter titled "The Income Team" content changed.
New Tag assigned "rent problems".
Tag assignment removed: "eviction".
Updated by Elesh Makwana on 29/06/2012 10:47:21
Comment: New pictureDetails: (show)
Document Cover Image changed from "" to "rent arrears.jpg".
Updated by Elesh Makwana on 29/06/2012 10:44:10
Comment: Updated 'Linked Documents'