It is essential that you pay your rent. Failure to pay rent could lead to your eviction.
If you have problems in meeting your rent payments, you must contact us immediately.
Rent is CRHA’s main source of income and it helps to pay for a good quality housing management and repairs service to all tenants.
This section sets out the procedures that may be adopted in situations where rent arrears occur. However, we recognise that each situation deserves to be dealt with on an individual basis and the range of procedures set out here will be applied only as appropriate.
It is a condition of your tenancy and your responsibility to ensure that rent is paid both regularly and in advance.
If this is not possible we will respond promptly to help alleviate further more serious problems and arrange for the payment of any arrears.
This section explains:
What we will do at the beginning of each tenancy to advise new tenants on rent payments.
How we will respond if rent payments are not made.
What action we will take to prevent rent arrears from increasing if they occur.
How the legal process for dealing with rent arrears works.
At all stages we will endeavour to act promptly and correctly to situations of non-payment of rent.
We will treat all information in a sensitive and confidential manner, advising you in advance of what action is proposed.
We will give you every opportunity to discuss the matter with us or to obtain independent advice.
At the start of your tenancy
When you start your tenancy we will help to make an initial assessment of your entitlement to housing benefit or Universal Credit. This may cover all or part of your rent. Until your claim has been assessed actual figures cannot be confirmed but we will give you an idea of how much your own contribution is likely to be.
All housing benefit payments you receive are intended to help you with rent payments so they should be paid to the Association immediately. The portion of your Universal Credit payment that is to help with your rent should be paid to the Association immediately.
You will be advised of the various methods of paying your rent, e.g. using an Allpay card, direct debit etc. We will also explain that you have the facility to have any entitlement to housing benefit paid direct to CRHA.
What happens if rent is not paid?
If for any reason you are unable to keep up-to-date with your rent payments you should contact us immediately.
We will arrange to visit you to discuss the situation in a sensitive manner to identify the reason for non-payment. We will also provide you with any relevant advice on welfare benefits etc.
You will be expected to make an arrangement for the payment of the arrears.
We are aware that rent arrears often occur because tenants on low incomes have to meet other debts, e.g. electricity, water or gas charges. We may be able to refer you to specialist organisations for independent advice.
Whatever the reason for non-payment of rent, it is important that once an arrangement is made for repayment it is strictly maintained. If agreements to pay rent arrears are not kept, or rent arrears continue to increase, the Association will be forced to consider further action.
Housing Benefit & Universal Credit
It is possible that when you accept a property from CRHA you will be eligible for housing benefit or Universal Credit. However, because of delays in the assessment of your application, rent arrears may accrue on your account.
The Association will be sensitive to this situation but we may be forced to start legal procedures if the arrears reach a high level and you have failed to supply the housing benefit department with the information it requires to assess your entitlement.
We will insist on housing benefit being paid direct to us if the arrears are the equivalent of eight weeks rent or more.
However, it remains your responsibility to ensure that the rent is paid and so it is important that you continue to press for the payment of your housing benefit or Universal Credit and that you keep us regularly informed, particularly if there is any change in your personal circumstances. It is also your responsibility to ensure that your claim for housing benefit or Universal Credit is renewed at the appropriate time.
When your housing benefit or Universal Credit is received a payment should be immediately made into your rent account.
The Legal Procedure
If there are arrears on your tenancy we may consider taking court action, particularly if you have not kept to a previously agreed arrangement. This may ultimately lead to your eviction.
The first step in this process involves the issuing of a Notice of Seeking Possession (NSP). The NSP gives you 28 days to make an arrangement to pay the arrears. If you receive an NSP it is vital that you contact us or any independent agency for immediate advice.
The NSP remains valid for 12 months after it has been issued and at any time during that period the Association can apply to the County Court for a hearing unless the account is clear. You will be notified in advance of the date of the court hearing and it is important that you attend.
If you are in rent arrears, the County Court will be asked to give the Association a Possession Order on your home which will allow us to evict you.
This order may be suspended which will allow you to remain in your home, provided you keep to the terms of payment which the court has set. You will also have to pay the costs of any court action taken.
The Court Order will be valid until the arrears are cleared and the costs paid.
If the Court suspends the Possession Order it is vital that you keep to the terms of the Order for the repayment of the arrears. If you fail to pay as the Court instructed the Association can, without a further hearing in Court, request the court bailiff to take possession of your home. In these circumstances the Association will not provide you with alternative accommodation.
IF YOU ARE FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO PAY YOUR RENT PLEASE CONTACT US FOR ADVICE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
You may also wish to get independent advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, a housing aid centre or a solicitor.
18 March 2020
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