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If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent you should contact your Housing Income Officer as soon as possible. We will work with you to agree repayments that you can afford.

Alternately you can also contact the Money Advice Service based at Phoenix House, Tiverton on 01884 255255. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent you should contact your Housing Income Officer as soon as possible. We will work with you to agree repayments that you can afford.

Alternately you can also contact the Money Advice Service based at Phoenix House, Tiverton on 01884 255255. 

If you do not make an agreement to pay arrears or if you break an agreement, we will take further action. This may include court action in some cases.

We want to help tenants to remain in their homes but if they refuse to engage with our Officers in a meaningful way, then sometimes we may have no option but to take cases to Court in order to enforce conditions of tenancy. In line with our standard tenancy agreements, rent is due weekly on a Monday and failure to pay means that a condition of the tenancy has not been met.

A tenancy agreement is a contract and therefore tenants are obliged to pay the rent and can be held to account if they fail to work with us to make up any shortfalls.

The Housing Service needs to ensure that income levels are maintained to avoid a shortfall. If there are not enough funds available, it could impact the ability of the Council to manage and maintain those homes in our ownership.

Seeking an order for possession of a property is a last resort but is sometimes the only option available given the need to protect the interests of the Council and to enable it to continue to keep those homes in our ownership in good order.

If we need to take court action we will ask the court to make the tenant pay our legal costs as well as the outstanding debt. You also need to be aware of the type of tenancy you hold, explained as follows:

  • If you are an Introductory Tenant if we ask for possession of the home you live in a District Judge does not have discretion and will award MDDC outright possession, meaning you will become homeless. After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings.
  • If you hold a Flexible Tenancy, then the District Judge can make a Court Order to repay the debt by installments and the Councils costs, this could affect the Council’s decision to renew your tenancy when due. If you fail to adhere to the terms of the Court Order then the Council can ask for Outright Possession of our property, this could result in you being homeless. After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings.
  • If you have a Secure Tenancy the District Judge can make a Court Order to repay the debt and the Councils costs. If you fail to adhere to the terms of the Court Order then the Council can ask for Outright Possession of our property, this could result in you being homeless. After you have moved out of our property, we will still pursue any outstanding debt including the costs of the court proceedings.

Failing to pay your rent or not responding to letters about rent arrears could lead to you losing your home and is a breach of the Court Protocol, S:\Housing Services\Court Protocol, (this will need to be added to the website). The Court Protocol dictates that we are clear with our customers that non-payment of rent and arrears could result in tenants and their household members losing their home.

The cost of each eviction is high for all those concerned and it is for this reason that our Officers will try to work with those who owe rent to establish a regular pattern of payment.  

  • We explain rent accounts clearly
  • We discuss issues sympathetically and confidentially
  • We advise you on entitlement to welfare and Housing Benefit or refer you for specialist advice
  • Refer you to Community Housing Support Officers/Agencies to help you to complete Housing Benefit/Universal Credit claim forms if you are unable to do so
  • Provide details of other agencies that can help you with money advice, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, WiserMoney or CHAT, depending on the type of support you need and how long you may need that support

If you fall behind with your rent we will:

  • Send you a letter explaining what you need to do. We will then try to contact you again. If we cannot contact you by telephone we will invite you into our office for an appointment to discuss this. If you do not come to the appointment, we will continue to write to you to ask you to contact us. If you do not contact us we will send you further letters explaining what you need to do.
  • We will try to reach an agreement with you to repay any arrears, taking into account your income and expenditure and offer to refer you for independent money advice.

We will ask the Court to make an Order to repay the debt. A Court Order will affect your credit rating and may make it more difficult to get credit and may impact on your future housing prospects.

Before taking any legal action, we will make sure advice is always available to you, and we have given enough warnings, including:

  • Sending letters.
  • Calling you on the telephone, if we have an up to date number for you.
  • Sending emails, if we have one.
  • Sending text messages, if we have a mobile number.
  • Telling you the situation.
  • Offer of a video appointment using social media including WhatsApp or Zoom, where possible.
  • Offer of an office appointment, where not possible.
  • Inviting you to submit supporting evidence to a Rent Arrears Hearing.

We will treat vulnerable tenants sensitively and try to resolve any issues affecting payments before legal action is taken.

Remember that any debt could affect you in the following ways:

  • Prevent you from being re-housed.
  • Affect you getting a mortgage, as details of debt will be given to mortgage companies or local authorities or housing associations.
  • Affect your credit rating.
  • Affect your right to buy your Council house.

Garage tenancies are held by both Council house occupiers and private tenants who have to pay VAT on garage rent.

Contact the Housing Income Team on 01884 255255 immediately and inform us about your payment problems.

A “Notice To Quit” will be served if payments are not made with a notice period of one week. The tenant is notified that at the end of notice period the garage lock will be changed and the garage will be reallocated to the next person on the waiting list. If the debt is not cleared this is referred to either Legal Services for small Claims Court action or referred to a debt collection agency.

If you have difficulty paying your garage rent, please contact us for help on 01884 255255. If you fall into arrears, it is very important to make contact with us so that we may come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.

Please Note: garages are not seen as priority expenditure, if you are also in arrears with your property rent we may make a decision to serve notice on your garage.

Garage Ground Rent Plots, Car Parking Plot and Land Licence tenancies are held by both Council house occupiers and private tenants who have to pay VAT on their annual charge.

Contact the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 01884 255255 immediately and inform the rents section regarding the problem.

A “Notice To Quit” will be served if payments are not made with a notice period of one calendar month , (31 days). The tenant is notified that at the end of notice period they must remove any structure from the GGRP and this will be reallocated to the next person on the waiting list. If the debt is not cleared or you do not remove the structure we will also recharge you for this. To recover any outstanding debt we will either refer your case to Legal Services for small Claims Court action or refer to a debt collection agency.

If you have difficulty paying your annual charge, please contact us for help on 01884 255255. It is very important to make contact with us so that we may come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.

Please Note: GGRP’s/CPP’s are not seen as priority expenditure, if you are also in arrears with your property rent we may make a decision to serve notice to end the tenancy or licence.

Tenants of the Council are required to give 4 weeks’ notice in writing of their intention to end their tenancy and to provide a forwarding or contact address. During this time the tenant will be sent a letter advising them of the end date of their tenancy.

If at the end of the tenancy there remains rent that is unpaid, the former tenant will be sent a further letter advising legal action/referral to debt collector if payment of the outstanding debt is not made. We can come to an agreement to make sure that the debt is cleared by paying in instalments.

Continued failure to respond means the debt will be forwarded for either legal action or passed to an approved Debt Collector.

 

  • Tracing. The most common service provided by the agency is tracing. If the tenant has not provided a forwarding address when leaving the property or has moved on again and we do not know where to, the agency will find out and forward the correct address to us. We will then contact the former tenant to recover the debt.
  • Collection. The agency will also contact the former tenant directly and when appropriate we will ask the agency to collect payment on behalf of the Council.

A claim is made against the estate. The Next of Kin is not responsible for paying the outstanding debt and the Council cannot take recovery against a next of kin for a deceased tenant. We will often contact a next of kin to establish if there is an Executor or Administrator of a will or if there is an estate from which to repay any debt from. If there is an Executor/Administrator we will make contact with them and not the next of kin to establish if there is an estate to pay the outstanding debt from. We do this because the executor/administrator is the person who has the legal right to end a tenancy and is empowered to act on the deceased tenants behalf. If there is no estate we may consider writing off the debt.

We request that a debt be written off once we have pursued payment as far as our procedures demand. If we are unable to recover the debt, approval to write it off is requested. It does not mean that it is completely cancelled, in fact we can and we do use small claims court action and debt collectors to recover outstanding debts. Also, if a former tenant applies for housing in the future, we would still request payment of the debt.

If the debt is written off, it can be reinstated at a later date. The debt is written off for accounting purposes but remains on file and we can still pursue the debt after write off.

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