Paying Council Rent
There are several ways to pay your rent:
• At any UK Post Office with your rent card
• Telephone by contacting your Rent Officer
All rent enquiries are dealt with by our full time Rent Services Team that works collecting rents, chasing arrears and helping tenants with difficulties in paying their rent. You can speak to a Rent Officer on the telephone or you can arrange to meet at the Council offices or in your home.
Do you owe rent?
Sometimes you may find it a struggle to keep up with your rent payments, for example, because you have lost your job, are unwell or have personal problems.
If you have an enquiry about paying your rent, or if you need advice on Housing Benefit and payment options, please contact the rent service team.
What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?
- Speak to your rent officer or get advice before the debt gets too large.
- Check whether you can get housing benefit. Ask your Rent Arrears Team or the Housing Benefits Team. They will give you advice on benefits that you may qualify for or – if you need more expert advice – refer you to an agency such as the citizen’s advice bureau (CAB). You can of course contact the CAB directly but it is advisable to keep your rent officer informed.
What we will do:
Our Rents Services Team will usually contact you if you are up to three weeks behind with your rent. If this happens you should pay the debt straight away. If you do not and the debt continues to grow, we will arrange an interview with you at home or at the Council offices. You will be asked to settle your debt, either by paying a lump sum or by paying weekly instalments on top of your rent. If you contact our Rents Service Team and make satisfactory arrangements to repay the money, we will not usually take legal action.
If you do not contact us, or do not keep to the arrangement you have made to repay the money, we may take legal action against you. If we take legal action, we will always offer to meet you first to explain what will happen and what your rights are.
The first step will be to serve you with a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP). This notice will tell you the amount of rent you owe and give you four weeks warning of our intention to apply to the County Court for a Possession Order.
If you have still not paid off your debt or reached an arrangement with your rent officer to repay the debt in instalments, we may apply to the County Court for a hearing date. If this happens, you will receive a summons to appear in Court. You will also receive a form for your defence which you should fill in and send back to the Court. If you get a summons you should get advice as soon as possible.
Even if you choose not to get advice, it is important to go to Court on the fixed date. If the Court is satisfied that you owe rent and you agree to pay a fixed amount each week, they will probably “postpone or suspend” the Possession Order. This means that we cannot evict you as long as you keep to the agreement. If you don’t keep to the agreement, we can then apply for an Outright Possession Order and in turn a bailiffs’ warrant to evict you.
Going to Court will also incur Court charges which will be added to your rent account.
How your rent is made up:
Your rent is due every Monday in advance unless you have made other arrangements with a rent officer. The amount you pay each week includes your rent and any other inclusive charges such as water rates and heating charges. The separate amounts which make up the weekly charge are shown on the annual notification we send you and any time there is a change to the amount of rent you need to pay. When your rent or heating charges change, we will tell you in writing at least four weeks before the change is due.
If you get income support, income based Job Seekers Allowance or, are on a low income you may be entitled to help with paying your rent by claiming Housing Benefit. You will still have to pay any charges for water rates and heating.
For a Housing Benefit claim form please contact the Housing Benefit team who can also assist you with any queries you may have when filling out the form. If once your claim has been processed it is less than you expected you can either contact the Housing Benefit team or speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are turned down for Housing Benefit you can still apply at a later date if your circumstances change or your qualifying levels of income or rent change.
If you currently receive Housing Benefit, do not forget to tell the Housing Benefit team if your circumstances change.
We will send you a rent statement twice a year. This tells you the balance of your account, lists the charges due and shows how much you have paid in the last six months.
When you read your statements please remember that some payments are not credited to your account the same week you make them.