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Your rent is the money that pays for the services you receive. It is based on the type and size of property you live in. For some homes it includes service charges.
We understand that you may have difficulty paying your rent for all kinds of reasons and find yourself in rent arrears. However, we are here to help, give you advice and understand your financial problems.
What should I do if I miss a rent payment?
It is very important that you contact your Housing Officer immediately. Your Housing Officer will do everything they can to help you but we do need your co-operation from the earliest stage, before the problem becomes serious.
You can get help from your Housing Officer at your Area Office. If you fall into arrears with your rent, you should contact them immediately.
- discuss your arrears with you
- agree a repayment arrangement
- give you advice about applying for benefits if you are on a low income.
If you are unable to pay the amount you owe in full, we can enter into an agreement with you on how you will pay it off gradually. This involves paying an extra amount, on top of your rent, until the debt is paid off.
Why is it important that I pay my rent?
When you accepted your tenancy you signed a legal agreement to pay your rent on time. If you don’t pay it on time, you have broken that agreement and we can take action against you that could put your home at risk. If you do not pay your rent, it makes it more difficult for us to provide services to repair and maintain your home.
We can make you leave your home if you don’t make an effort to pay your rent. We will take action through the courts against tenants who do not pay their rent.
How can I pay my rent?
There are many ways you can pay your rent. Payments can be made by cash, cheque or credit/debit card. You can pay in person, online or by post.
Can I get help to pay my rent?
You may qualify for Universal Credit to help with your rent. However, it is still your responsibility to make the claim and return the information we need on time. If you do not, we will still take action against you.
Keeping track of payments
Each time you make a payment at one of our offices or at a post office you will be given a receipt. Always check that your receipt is correct before you leave. If you pay by direct debit or standing order, the payment will show on your bank statement. You can ask for a rent statement at any time at your Area Housing Office.
You can download a reminder (iCal, 2kb) to your phone or device to notify you when your rent is due.
We review rent levels once a year when we have consulted tenants. If your rent goes up, we will tell you at least four weeks before the new amount is first due to be paid.
Tenants should contact the Welfare Reform Advice Team, email: email@example.com or Telephone 0300 999 4606 for any Welfare Rights or debt advice.
If you are on a low income, you may qualify for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
Independent advice is available from:
- National Debt Line: phone 0808 808 4000
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Community Housing Advocacy Project: phone 01294 475636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The steps below explain what we will do if you do not contact us about your arrears.
We will send you a reminder letter first. If you fail to contact us or pay the amount you owe us, your Housing Officer will then visit you at home. If you fail to respond to this visit, we will move to the next stage of our arrears policy.
If you still fail to contact us, you will receive a notice of proceedings for recovery of possession (NOP). You may also receive an NOP if you do contact us but still owe a considerable amount. This notice allows us to take legal action against you for not paying your rent. This notice is normally served on you by a Housing Officer or by recorded delivery, you will be asked to sign to confirm you have received it. However, there may be times when a Sheriff Officer will serve the notice. This notice is valid for six months from the date that it becomes effective. By law, we must also send this NOP to everyone in your home who is over 15 years and 9 months old, who we know is living with you.
If you still do not contact us, we will take court action to allow us to evict you from your home. This is always taken as a last resort and the Housing Officer will visit you again to try and speak to you before we take action. If we have to take you to court, this will cost you money, as you will be charged court expenses of around £150.
What happens if a Decree for eviction has been granted against my tenancy?
We will invite you to your Area Housing Office to be interviewed by the Area Housing Manager. This is your final opportunity to explain why you have not been able to pay your rent. We will tell you when you need to have either paid the balance in full or substantially reduced it. If you do not do this before the given date, we will set a date for you to be evicted.
I have been given an eviction date. What should I do?
You should contact your Housing Officer immediately. If you do not contact them, we will evict you. If you do contact them, there are certain circumstances where we will agree to postpone your eviction and monitor payments. So, it is essential that you contact your Housing Officer to discuss your circumstances.
Former Tenant Arrears
Former Tenant Arrears are accounts where the full rent was not paid while the person was the tenant or when they left the tenancy.
Once you have ended your tenancy, you will receive a letter telling you about any money you may owe us. A Housing Officer will also carry out a property inspection when we receive your notice ending the tenancy. If you have arrears at this time, you can arrange to pay by instalments or clear the account completely. This will be on top of your ongoing rent and will continue until your tenancy ends. You can also request a final rent balance. If you are still in arrears at this point, you should arrange to clear the debt.
Leaving your property and returning your keys
You are required to give us four weeks’ notice if you intend to leave your property. If you abandon your property, we will charge you rent for the full four-week notice period. If you do not hand in your keys by the given date or time, you may have to pay extra rent. It is very important that you check when and where to return your keys to avoid this. If you have claimed Housing Benefit for your previous tenancy, you must discuss your claim with the Benefits Service before you end your tenancy.
What action can you take to recover former tenant arrears?
If you leave your tenancy with former tenant arrears and do not give us your new address, we will use a tracing agency to trace you. If you ignore your arrears and fail to respond to our arrears reminder letters, we may also take legal action against you to recover the debt, which will lead to extra legal costs. We will mention any former tenant arrears in any reference we provide about your tenancy, and it could have a negative effect on your credit rating.
Can I apply for another council tenancy if I have former tenant arrears?
Any debts you have after ending a tenancy could prevent you being offered a property by North Ayrshire Council in the future, unless you agree, and keep to, an arrangement to repay the debt.
What happens if the tenant of the property has died?
If a tenant has died, our policy is to continue to charge full rent on the property until the keys are returned to the office. If any rent still needs to be paid when the keys are handed in, we will discuss, with the family, claiming back through the tenant’s estate. Please note if the tenant received Housing Benefit, this would stop on the date they died.
How to pay
You can pay your former rent arrears in person at any area office or by telephone on 01294 485615 using any of the following methods:
- post office
- paypoint facility
- postal order
- credit or debit card
Former tenant account in credit
If you have given us a new address, we will refund you. If the tenant has died we will refund their representative.