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How to avoid getting into arrears

Updated: 01 Oct 2014
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Get advice before you get into rent arrears
All new tenants are signed up on a 12 month trial basis. This means that new tenants do not have all the rights of a secure tenant, and could be evicted more quickly and easily if they break the tenancy agreement.
You will be offered the same advice and assistance as secure tenants if your account falls into arrears and you will be given the chance to make an agreement to repay the arrears in addition to your normal weekly charge.
If we write to an introductory tenant to tell you that we are asking the court for an Order for Possession you can ask for a review of the case within 14 days. The review will be heard by a senior staff member who has not been involved in the original decision. You do not have the right of appeal against the outcome of the review. If the original decision is upheld then we will seek an Order for Possession from the court.
If there have been no problems during your Introductory Tenancy you will automatically become a secure tenant on the date written on your tenancy agreement.

What should I do if I owe rent?

If your rent account falls into arrears you should contact your district office as soon as possible for advice and assistance. You will be treated with fairness and confidentiality at all times.
There are a number of ways we can help. These include:
  • arranging for your rent to be paid directly to us from certain benefits
  • referring you to the Citizens Advice Bureau for specialist money advice, if appropriate
  • making an agreement with you to clear arrears by payment of regular instalments along with your current rent and rates charge and offer continued support during this period
  • arranging for your rent to be paid directly from your salary if you are employed.

What will happen if I cannot keep to the agreement?

If there is a change in your circumstances and you cannot keep to the agreement, you must contact the district office immediately. If you do not keep to the agreement and payments are missed, you will receive a broken agreement letter, giving you 7 days to pay the amount as stated. We can also apply for direct payments from certain social security benefits.
It is important that you do not ignore any warning letters as this could result in us taking immediate legal action. You will be responsible for legal costs, which may be substantial.

I am a secure tenant – can I lose my home?

We do not want to make anyone homeless and will make every effort to assist you to clear rent arrears, but if you do not reply to letters or visits, we will apply to the courts to obtain a Decree for Debt or a Possession Order.

Possession Orders

When the court grants a possession order you lose your security of tenure and you may incur substantial legal costs which will be added to your existing arrears. If you are seen to be intentionally homeless, we may not have a duty to rehouse you and you will have to find your own accommodation.

What help can I receive to pay my rent?

If you are in receipt of income support, or on a low income, you should claim Housing Benefit. The amount you can get will depend on your circumstances, but even if you are working you may be eligible for assistance. If you are not receiving Housing Benefit already, or unsure if you are eligible, it might be worthwhile applying. For advice and an application form, telephone or call to your district office.

Making a complaint

If you are unhappy with the decision made by the Housing Executive or the way you have been treated you can make a complaint under our complaints procedure.
A leaflet explaining how the two stage complaints procedure works is available from your local district office.