Catalyst Housing

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Rent arrears

Rent is your responsibility and you have a legal obligation to pay it. We offer advice and support to residents having difficulty in paying their rent

Paying your rent is the most important part of your tenancy agreement. The money from rents goes to pay for the services we provide to you.

When do I start paying?

Your tenancy starts on a Monday and you pay a weekly rent in advance every Monday from this date. You can pay monthly in advance if you wish.

If your weekly rent is £100

Your total rent for the year is £100 x 52 = £5,200

Your monthly rent is £5,200 ÷ 12 = £433.33

What happens if I’m in arrears?

We provide weekly financial advice sessions. If you are having difficulty paying your rent please seek advice as soon as possible. Check the calendar on the right hand side of this page to see when sessions are being run in your area, or contact us.

If you do fall into arreas:

  1. We’ll let you know
  2. If you don’t clear your account, we’ll let you know we’re planning to send a notice of seeking possession (NOSP). A NOSP is a notice we send before applying to court to repossess a property. It will state why we are seeking possession
  3. If you get a NOSP, make sure you contact us right away. We’ll arrange an interview with you
  4. If you don’t, or your arrears stay the same or increase, we’ll serve you with a NOSP and continue to take action
  5. We’ll normally serve a NOSP even if you’re waiting for the council’s housing benefit office to assess your claim for benefit or decide whether it will pay us the arrears
  6. If you haven’t started to pay off the arrears by the end of the notice period (2-4 weeks depending on your tenancy agreement), we may apply to court for possession of your home

We will always try to contact you as soon as possible – out of hours if necessary – to sort out the situation when your account goes into arrears.

If you have a starter tenancy, the procedure is different. Contact us with any questions.

What happens if I receive a court date?

Try to prevent the case going to court. If possible clear all the arrears and pay the court application fee seven days before the hearing date. It costs us money to make a court application, so we’ll try to recover the costs from you.

We advise you to seek independent legal advice. Before the court date we’ll seek an agreement with you as to how the arrears can be cleared. If the Housing Benefit Office is involved, we’ll try to contact them for information about your claim.

If you’re in debt to us, we will ask the court for a Money Judgment as well as the other orders. This means we can claim arrears if you leave the property. The judgment will reduce your credit rating.

Stay in contact with us and we’ll tell you what we’ll be asking for before the court hearing. We may apply for:

  • Outright Possession Order (usually for extremely high arrears)
    This is where we ask the judge to make an order for possession to take effect immediately or in 14 or 28 days. Once the time is up, we will apply for a warrant for eviction.
  • Postponed Order
    This is when the judge makes an order that you will agree to reduce the debt by paying your current rent plus an amount off the arrears. This is normally used where you have entered into an agreement with us to reduce the arrears and we think you will keep to the agreement. If you break the arrangements in the order, we may be allowed to apply for a bailiff’s warrant to evict you from your home.
  • Adjourned Orders
    These are usually granted where there is some question over housing benefit payments, the arrears are low or if you have reached an agreement with us to reduce the arrears.

In each case we ask the courts to add the court application costs to the order, to be paid off once you have cleared the arrears.

What happens if I receive an eviction date?

This means we have applied for a warrant for your eviction from the property. This happens when we’ve applied after an Outright Possession Order or you haven’t kept up payments in line with your Postponed Order.

To avoid the eviction, you need to pay all the arrears together with the court costs. If you want to appeal, you must apply to the court to ask for the application for eviction to be set aside. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

If you don’t clear your arrears or apply to the court to appeal, the eviction will go ahead on the date given. We will and do evict residents for rent arrears. If you are evicted, we recommend that you seek alternative accommodation or go to the local council’s homeless persons’ unit and say you are homeless.

Some effects of having rent arrears

Applying for a transfer

If you want a transfer, mutual exchange, or to move under a mobility scheme, rent arrears will reduce your chance of success.

Getting credit

If we get a county court judgment against you to recover unpaid rent, the judgment may give you a bad credit rating. This means you will find it extremely difficult to get credit.

Getting a mortgage

If you hope to buy your home through the HomeBuy scheme or a shared-ownership scheme, the mortgage lender will ask us for a reference. If you have had rent arrears, you will be less likely to get a mortgage to buy your own home.

Homelessness

If you are evicted as a result of rent arrears, local councils may judge you to be ‘intentionally homeless’. This would mean you would have no right to an offer of temporary accommodation.

Our rent policy

We set your rent in line with a government formula that works out a target rent. There is a rent limit for different sized properties.

If your rent is below the target rent, we can increase it by up to the rate of inflation + 0.5% + £2. If you are paying more than the target rent, we will freeze it until the target rent has caught up with it.

Once your rent matches the target rent, it will increase by the rate of inflation + 0.5% a year.

We review all rents once a year (but only after a full year has passed since the last review). We’ll give you at least four weeks’ written notice of any increase.

If you have a secure tenancy, we must register your rent with the Rent Service every two years. The Rent Service will tell you and us what is a new fair rent. This is the highest rent we can charge for your property. We charge rent in line with the target rent unless the fair-rent assessment is lower.

To appeal against your rent increase, contact the Rent Assessment Panel.

If your rent increases you must then either increase your payments or, if you get a housing benefit, tell the local council about the increase by showing them the letter we send you. Please ask for a receipt and keep it as proof.

Service charge

What is a service charge?

A service charge is an extra charge you pay if we provide extra services such as cleaning and gardening. This is in addition to the basic rent for your home. These include:

  • communal heating and hot water
  • communal cleaning and repairs
  • porters, wardens and caretakers
  • passenger and goods lifts
  • special facilities, for example, for disabled people

How can I find out more about the service charge?

Your tenancy agreement lists the things covered by the service charge. We review the service charge every year with the rent. Then we tell you how much the service charge will be, and how we work it out, when we notify you about the rent.

We also send you a yearly account showing how much money we received and how much we spent during the year. You have the right to inspect our bills and receipts if you wish to check our figures. If you’re unhappy with the information we give, you may apply to the County Court to decide whether the costs and standard of services are reasonable.

Setting the service charge

When we review the service charges every March we have to make sure we don’t make a profit or loss providing our services.

When setting service charges we aim to:

  • treat all tenants fairly by varying the charges according to actual costs
  • use service charges to get back the cost of providing services without loss or profit to us
  • provide high-quality services
  • give value for money
  • act in your best interests
  • take your views into account

We’ll always consult you about major works to buildings or estates, and providing extra services or changing services. We also want your views on the quality of our services and their value for money. We’ll contact you through meetings, tenant committees, letters or questionnaires.

Get more advice on rent, money matters and benefits.