Formal Notice Arrears

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					                                 RENT ARREARS POLICY AND PROCEDURE

Overall Objectives

a.       To provide a consistent approach to dealing with rent arrears in properties in the
         ownership of the Council and managed by Housing Landlord Services in accordance
         with current legislation and best practice.

b.       To ensure that our tenants receive appropriate debt counselling and advice at an
         early stage from either our Housing Officers or independent agencies.

c.       Clear and unambiguous process.

d.       Open to inspection by all interested parties.

Background

The Council favours early intervention in the hope that rent debt can be contained and
tenancies are not put at risk as a result of legal action.

The Council balances its rent account every two weeks, and rent is due fortnightly.

The procedure is designed to ensure that rent arrears cases are dealt with consistently
and fairly. The Council does however accept that no two cases are the same and
allows its Officers a degree of flexibility when applying this procedure to ensure cases
are dealt with sympathetically and individual circumstances are taken into
consideration.

Procedure

Each fortnight the Housing Officers will produce a list of tenancies for their patch with
outstanding balances above £50.00. This will then be reviewed and a reminder letter sent
as appropriate. (AR1). This letter will provide information on where to get independent
advice and how to pay. (Under £50.00 balances are actioned quarterly where necessary).

Where a tenant’s rent account is over four weeks in arrears, a personal visit will be made
by a Housing Officer to investigate the situation. At this visit a rent arrears report will be
completed recording family details, income and expenditure and outstanding financial
obligations. This information will then be used as a basis for offering advice and agreeing
a repayment plan. The agreement to clear the arrears could either be one payment or
instalments. This agreement is to be confirmed in writing and the tenant advised that
unless payments are made as promised he/she could be served with a Notice of Seeking
Possession in accordance with the terms of the Housing Act 1985. (AR2).

If a tenant breaks an agreement the Housing Officer will either send a further reminder or
if the level of arrears has increased a letter confirming that a Notice of Seeking Possession
is to be served. (AR3).

The Notice of Seeking Possession will be prepared, signed by the Senior Housing Officer
and served by the Housing Officer and a further agreement will be made. Tenants are
warned that if they fail to keep up their agreement the matter may be entered into the
County Court with a view to obtaining a Possession Order in respect of the property. The
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Housing Officer will explain that if Court action is taken costs will be incurred which the
tenant may have to pay. The content of this interview is confirmed in writing to the
tenant. (AR4).

If a tenant breaks the agreement following the serving of a Notice of Seeking Possession,
the Housing Officer will contact the tenant and in the absence of a satisfactory
explanation will refer the case to the Senior Housing Officer with a recommendation that
the matter is entered into the County Court with a view to obtaining a Possession Order.

The Senior Housing Officer will consider the case and will either contact the tenant or if
appropriate will enter the matter into the Court and attend the subsequent hearing. It is
the Council’s normal policy to apply for a Suspended Order of Possession on condition that
the tenant agrees to make payments of current rent plus a given amount off the arrears
each fortnight. If the matter is entered into Court the Senior Housing Officer will visit the
tenant to attempt to come to a satisfactory agreement before the Court hearing. If an
acceptable agreement can be reached a statement will be obtained from the tenant
admitting the debt and making an offer to clear the arrears. Tenants will always be
advised to attend the hearing and seek independent legal advice. In the case of
temporary tenancies granted under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, an adjournment on
terms is sought.

The Senior Housing Officer monitors all tenants who are subject to Suspended Court
Orders for Possession fortnightly. If a tenant breaks the terms of the Suspended Court
Order for Possession, the Senior Housing Officer will carry out an initial visit, and if no
satisfactory agreement can be reached a recommendation will be made to the Housing
Manager that an application be made to the Court to evict the tenant. Before an
application can be made to the County Court for a Warrant of Possession, the Housing
Manager will review the case. If it is agreed that an eviction should be sought an
application is made by the Senior Housing Officer to the County Court for the Warrant of
Possession.

In the event that an application is made to the Court for a Warrant of Possession, the
Senior Housing Officer must advise Housing Solutions to give the Council the opportunity
to meet its obligations under Homeless Persons Legislation.

Throughout the whole of the procedure every effort is made to ensure debt is addressed
early and that appropriate advice and counselling is provided either by our Housing
Officers or independent agencies. The Council considers eviction as a last resort and
every effort is made to avoid this course of action.




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"acc no"
                             "ref"




"date"




Dear "salute"


Rent Arrears to "date and amount"

Having checked my records I note that the above amount is outstanding on your rent
account. This may be an oversight on your behalf or your payment may have crossed in
the post with this letter.

However, if you are unable to make payments for any reason please do not ignore this
letter. Rent arrears increase quickly if payments are missed and can then be difficult to
clear.

Please refer to the rear of this letter for payment methods and where to obtain independent
advice.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

"ys"




"name and address"



AR1


J:drive/hmpolicies&procedures/rent arrears policy and procedure updated Jan06                 3
"acc no"
                             "ref"




"date"




Dear "salute"


Rent Arrears to "date and amount"

I write further to my recent visit and would confirm the above balance is outstanding on your
rent account. This figure includes your fortnightly rent of "fort rent".

I would advise you that I am prepared to accept your offer to clear your rent account by
"offer". You should however be aware that tenants who fail to pay their rent for no justifiable
reason can expect the Council to take legal action against them for recovery of their debt
and if necessary you could be served with a "NSP or NTQ".

I look forward to your prompt payments to enable this matter to be brought to a satisfactory
conclusion and would refer you to the rear of this letter for payment methods and where to
obtain independent advice.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

"ys"




"name and address"



AR2




"acc no"
J:drive/hmpolicies&procedures/rent arrears policy and procedure updated Jan06                  4
                             "ref"



"date"



Dear "salute"


Rent Arrears to "date and amount"

Having checked my records I note that you have failed to keep to the repayment
arrangement that we previously agreed.

I have therefore decided to serve you with a "NSP/NTQ". This is a formal notice of our
intention to bring your rent arrears to the attention of the Court.

Please note that following service of this Notice 28 days has to elapse before any further
action can be taken. During this period we will again seek to reach an acceptable
repayment agreement with you. However, if this is unsuccessful and your arrears continue
to increase this matter will be referred to the Courts, which may result in you incurring legal
costs and losing your home.

If you wish to discuss this matter you can contact me on the above number or you may wish
to speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor.

"ys"




"name and address"




AR3




"acc no"
J:drive/hmpolicies&procedures/rent arrears policy and procedure updated Jan06                     5
                             "ref"



"date"




Dear "salute"


Rent Arrears to "date and amount"

I write further to my recent visit regarding the above and can confirm that I am prepared to
accept your offer to clear your arrears by "offer".

As you are aware your tenancy is subject to a "NSP/NTQ" and it is important that you
understand that failure to adhere to this agreement may result in this matter being referred
to the County Court, which could result in you losing your home.

You should also be aware that if it proves necessary to take legal action through the Courts
the Council will be applying for costs, which if granted will be debited to your rent account.
These are currently £130.00.

Please contact me if you are unable to make a payment for any reason.

"ys"




"name and address"




AR4




J:drive/hmpolicies&procedures/rent arrears policy and procedure updated Jan06                    6

				
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