Rent Arrears Policy
Our procedure highlights what may happen in the situation where a council tenant has missed rental payments.
Uttlesford District Council process
The timescales and actions are based on a tenant:
- not making contact
- not making payments
- and not applying for or being entitled to Housing Benefit
Tenancy sign up
Housing Officer to discuss payment of rent, can they afford to pay? What method of payment will they use? The tenant will be issued with a Housing Benefit claim form, if applicable and help will be given to complete the form. Advice will also be given regarding help available from Essex Floating Support Service.
Arrears visit to be made by a Housing Officer to discuss arrears situation and give advice regarding payment methods and Housing Benefit, the tenant will also be advised to seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau or Essex Floating Support Service if they are in financial difficulty. A covering letter is to be left with the tenant or posted through letter box if the tenant is not in.
A Notice of Seeking Possession to be hand delivered by a housing officer and the arrears to be discussed with tenant again. If the tenant is not in a further visit will be made to try and make contact.If there is no answer after the 2nd visit the Notice will be posted through the letterbox along with a card asking the tenant to contact the housing officer as a matter of urgency to discuss the situation.
Letter to be sent by Senior Housing Officer (Rents) advising that the next course of action will be to apply for a Possession Hearing date unless an acceptable offer for the repayment of the arrears is made and then adhered to. An offer of an interview to discuss the situation to be made.
An application is made for a Possession hearing date and a letter is sent to the tenant advising them of this.
County court process
⚠ No further timescales can be given from here on as all actions are reliant on the county court.
Notification of hearing date received from the county court
A letter is sent to the tenant advising them of the date, time and place of the Possession Hearing and that the tenant should attend court. The tenant is also advised that they will be responsible for the Council Cost of £169.50, even if the arrears are cleared prior to the hearing.
14 days prior to Possession Hearing date
A letter is sent to the tenant reminding them of the date, time and place of the Possession Hearing and that the tenant should attend. A statement of their rent account will be included showing how the rent arrears have accrued. Contact will be made with the Housing Benefit department to ascertain if there are any outstanding Housing Benefit issues and if there are, the tenant will also be advised of these.
Date of Possession Hearing
A Possession Order will be obtained which will be suspended on the terms previously agreed with the tenant. If no contact has been made by the tenant and they do not attend the hearing the following rules will apply:-
Tenant on full rent - current rent plus £15.00 per week off the arrears
Tenant on part Housing Benefit - current rent plus £7.50 per week off the arrears
Tenant in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or on full Housing Benefit - current rent plus £3.60 (or current direct deduction amount) per week off the arrears.
Confirmation of order made received from the county court
A letter is sent to the tenant confirming the outcome of the hearing and the terms of the order made.
Terms of the Postponed Possession Order are not adhered to
A Suspended Possession Order broken letter sent advising the tenant that they have not kept to the terms of the Suspended Possession Order and if their rent account is not brought back into compliance with the order within 14 days a date of possession will be applied for.
Application made for a Warrant of Possession
An application is made to the county court for a Warrant of Possession to be issued and a letter is sent to the tenant advising them of this and that no further arrangement can be entered into, except payment of the arrears in full prior to the eviction date. They are also advised of their right, under the Housing Act, to apply for the warrant to be suspended if they feel there are grounds for them to do so. Housing Options team notified that warrant has been applied for.
Notification of eviction date received from the county court
Letter sent to tenant confirming the date and time of eviction and advising of their right, under the Housing Act, to apply for the warrant to be suspended if they feel there are grounds for them to do so.
7 to 10 days prior to eviction
Visit to be made by housing officer who will advise them of the date and time of the eviction and that no further arrangement can be entered into except payment of the arrears in full prior to the eviction date. They are also advised of their right, under the Housing Act, to apply for the warrant to be suspended if they feel there are grounds for them to do so. The tenant will also be given advice on homelessness.