- Worried about being taken to court over your recent arrears?
- Don’t Panic. Keep calm and stay put! You should not have to move.
- Don’t cut down on food/electric or other essential stuff – your health matters most.
- You can still appeal against a Bedroom Tax decision but will have to give a good reason why you didn’t do so within a month of the housing benefit decision. You could try an ‘anytime’ revision appeal as well.
- You might be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment – ask your housing provider about this.
- Talk to your friends and neighbours. Find out who is in the same position, share this information.
My housing provider is telling me I need to pay: What should I do?
Don’t Panic. If a housing officer or other official is telling you that you need to pay, you should do the following:
- Tell them you can’t pay and why, explain what you would have to do without (food, heating, etc.)
- Keep a note of your income and what you spend money on. We don’t think you should have to justify how you spend your income, we know that no one in social housing is rich, but it might come in handy later for any legal proceedings. Send a copy of this to your housing provider to demonstrate you cannot pay. Keep hold of bills and shopping receipts.
- You almost certainly know by now that you COULD apply for mutual exchange/ask for downsizing – the chances of getting this are unlikely, given the lack of smaller properties. You should tell your housing provider in writing why you are staying put (keep a record of this)
- If you feel a housing officer or representative of your landlord is being offensive, threatening or unreasonable you should write down that happened as soon as possible
Am I going to lose my home?
- You may have received letters, visits and phone calls saying that you are in rental arrears and you must pay or risk losing your home. These do no mean you are going to be evicted. It just means they are trying to make you pay.
- To even have a chance to evict you from your home, your housing provider must give you a Notice of Seeking Possession of Property . This is a long (6 page+) legal document. It is a formal document that informs you that your landlord (Council or Housing Association) are intending on taking you to court for possession of their property. This does not mean you will go to court. Keep talking to your housing provider and noting down what you and they say.
- Tenants can seek Legal Aid and get free legal advice at this point.
What happens if I go to court?
- If you have to go to court to defend your home, you will receive a big envelope from County Court with a possession claim and notice of a hearing (court appearance). This will be several weeks away.
- Keep talking to the housing office and your housing provider about what you’re doing.
- Find a solicitor if you haven’t already
- GO TO THE COURT HEARING – Don’t ignore it. If you are unable to find a solicitor by then there will be Duty Solicitors at Court. You should arrive at least 30 min before the hearing time to find them so they can advise and represent you in court.