Secure tenants – rent arrears

This section tells you how we support you and deal with rent arrears if you are a secure tenant.

How soon will you contact me if i am behind with my rent?

We will contact you by letter and sometimes by phone, e-mail or text after you have missed 2 weeks rent and ask you to put things right making a payment arrangement to clear your debt as quickly as possible.

What is a Notice of seeking possession?

We give a ‘Notice of seeking possession’ to tenants when they have broken the conditions of their tenancy. If you have been served with one, the legal action we take may result in you losing your home.

What does a notice tell me?

The notice tells you why we are taking legal action and gives you 28 days’ notice that we are going to ask the court for a possession order.

At the end of the 28 days, if you are still breaking the conditions of your tenancy, we will ask the court to arrange a date to hear your case.

If the court agrees with us, they can make an order to end your tenancy and evict you.

What should I do if I get a Notice?

It’s not too late to stop legal action. Evicting you is our last resort. We want to work with you to help you meet the conditions of your tenancy and keep your home.

If we served you the notice because you are in rent arrears or owe us money, you must contact our rents team. The letter we gave you with the notice tells you how to contact them.

If you cannot pay off the debt in one go, we will make an agreement with you to pay your rent plus an extra fixed amount each week until your rent account is clear. As long as you stick to the agreement we will not take any further action.

We will also make sure that you are claiming any benefit that you may be entitled to.

If the notice is for any other reason, for example, you have not looked after your garden, you must contact your Housing Management Team. Again, the letter we gave you with the notice tells you how to contact them.

A Housing Management Officer will tell you what you need to do to stop us taking any further action. As long as you stop breaking the conditions of your tenancy we will not take any further action.

Can I get independent advice?

You can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau at 1st Floor, Wellington House, 36 Wellington Street, Barnsley, (phone 03444 111444) or visit a Housing Law Centre. You can ask a solicitor to help you, but this may cost you. We will not pay any of these costs.

How long does the notice last?

A ‘notice of seeking possession’ lasts for 12 months, even if we decide not to ask the court to hear your case.

We cannot act on a notice if:

  • we served it more than 12 months ago and we have not asked the court to hear the case before the end of the 12 months; or
  • you keep to the conditions of your tenancy after we have served the notice. For example, if the notice was for rent arrears and you pay all your rent arrears off before we ask the court to hear your case.

But, if we served the notice less than 12 months ago and you are still breaking the same conditions of your tenancy, we do not have to give you another ‘notice of seeking possession’. We can simply ask the court to hear your case.

You will be responsible for paying any court costs.

 

What will the court do?

The court will tell you the date of the court hearing. The judge, after listening to our case and your defence, will decide whether it is reasonable or fair to evict you. The judge will usually make one of three decisions.

  • The judge can agree with us and give us a possession order. This means you will have to leave your home by a date set by the court. This can be straight away or up to six weeks later if the court feels there are special circumstances.
  • The judge can agree with us but order you to follow a certain path of action to stop you being evicted. This is called a ‘suspended possession order’. For example, the court may order you to pay your rent plus £5 every week. As long as you keep to this order we cannot evict you. But if you do not, we can go back to the court and ask for an eviction warrant.
  • The judge can disagree with us and stop any further action. You will keep your home and we will have to withdraw our notice against you. This does not mean that we cannot take action against you in the future. In this case, we will have to pay any court costs.
Can I go to court?

Yes, you can go to court yourself or ask a representative to present your case. You can ask for a solicitor to act on your behalf. You can also call witnesses to support you. You or your representative can ask questions of any witnesses who give evidence against you. You will be responsible for the cost of any legal fees.

What if the court agrees to evict me?

The court will give you a date by when you must leave the property. If you do not leave by this date we will ask the court for an eviction warrant. This means that the bailiffs will call at your home on the date set by the court and remove you and your belongings from your home. You will have to pay for any costs.

If we evict you, you will be homeless. In most cases the council may not be responsible for rehousing you as you may be classed as being intentionally homeless. If you want more advice about homelessness, please contact the Housing Options, Advice and Homeless Prevention Service on 01226 773870.

What if I want to appeal against a notice?

You do not have a right to appeal against the notice, but please contact us if you feel that we have served the notice for unfair or inaccurate reasons.

When we served the notice, we gave you a letter with a contact name and phone number – get in touch with this person. We will listen to what you tell us and decide whether to withdraw the notice. We will not withdraw a notice because you promise to put things right, only if we were wrong to have served it.

Remember! Your home is at risk if you do not follow the conditions of your tenancy. We want to work with you to solve your problem and help you keep your home.

How can I clear my arrears?

You can pay your rent the following ways:

  • Online
  • By phone to our automated payment line on 01226 775445

If you clear your arrears after the court has granted a possession order we can choose not to enforce the eviction. The tenancy would continue as an introductory tenancy.