Lochaber Housing Association

Rent Arrears

Anyone can have money troubles from time to time. If you can't pay your rent you should contact your Housing Officer as soon as you have a problem. If we know there is a problem, we can often help you.

What does the rent pay for?

The majority of the Association's income comes from rents. The rent you pay goes towards:

  • carrying out repairs and improvements to your homes
  • managing your homes
  • helping pay back loans used to modernise older homes and to build new ones

Rent arrears cost the Association money, and this cost will ultimately be passed on through higher rents or reduced services.

What happens if I can't pay my rent?

It is important to contact us as immediately, because if you do not take action it can lead to serious problems.

Don't ignore the situation; your rent problems won't just disappear, and if we have to take legal action against you, you may be liable for some of the legal costs, which can be expensive and you could lose your home.

What can you do to help?

We will treat your case confidentially and fairly, and we can help you to get specialist advice if you need it. Your Housing Officer can make an appointment to visit you at home if you would like.

We can also help you to apply for Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit administered by the Council to help people on benefits or low incomes to pay their rent. Even if you work, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit if your income is low, or you only work part-time. If you are not sure whether you would be eligible to claim Housing Benefit, please ask your Housing Officer.

If you cannot clear the whole amount you owe us, we can agree a 'Fair Payment Plan' with you, which is an agreement for you to pay off the arrears on a regular basis, in a way you can afford. The amount we agree with you will be based on your income. Paying an affordable amount towards your arrears each week is better than paying nothing at all.

What can I do to stop things from getting worse?

Most importantly, you should get in touch with us as soon as there is a problem.

You should also apply for Housing Benefit if you are on a low income, or claim benefits, and you should make sure that you give the Housing Benefit section all the information they ask for.

You should keep to the repayment agreement you have made with us, and let us know immediately if your circumstances change.

If there is anything affecting your ability to pay your rent, like other debts, you should let us know, and we will help you to get specialist help.

What do you do if people don't pay their rent?

The steps we follow are shown below, but we may not take the steps in the order shown if your arrears are serious or persistent:

  • Send you a letter or visit you
  • Send you a reminder or visit you
  • Issue a Notice of Proceedings
  • Take court action
  • Get a decree from the court
  • Eviction

We do evict people for not paying their rent, but only when we have tried unsuccessfully to sort out the problem with them. If you work with us, and keep making agreed payments we should not have to take this final course of action.

If you are evicted you may find it difficult to find somewhere else to live. The Highland Council may consider that you have made yourself homeless and will not re-house you.

Remember:
  • Contact us as soon as you have a problem
  • We will help you come to an affordable arrangement with us
  • Paying something towards your arrears is better than paying nothing at all
  • Your home will be at risk if you do not pay your rent

You may find the following contacts useful:

The Highland Council Money Advice
Tel: 01397 707005

Council Tax, Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit enquiries:
Freefone 0800 393 811

Lochaber Citizens Advice Bureau
Dudley Road
Fort William
PH33 6JB
Tel: 01397 705311

Shelterline: 0808 800 4444
Free impartial and independent housing advice

 

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