Arrears FAQs

On this page you can find information about rent arrears, how we can help prevent you building up arrears and what we will do to claim back your arrears. Rent is your most important debt and should be paid before any other bills to ensure you keep a roof over your head.

Help is available if you are having problems. Eviction is always our last resort and we would rather help you to stay in your home and help you pay your rent and arrears, but if you don’t pay your rent and do not contact us, then we can take you to court to repossess your home.

If you are evicted because of rent arrears and it is decided you have made yourself intentionally homeless, the Council has no obligation to re-house you. Other councils and housing associations will take the same view.

If you fall behind with your rent we will:

  • Send you a letter explaining what you need to do. We will then try to contact you again. If we cannot contact you by telephone we will visit you at home. If you are out when we visit, we will leave a card asking you to contact us. If you do not contact us we will send you another letter explaining what you need to do
  • We will try to reach an agreement with you to repay any arrears, taking into account your income and expenditure and offer to refer you for independent money advice.
  • Explain rent accounts clearly to all new tenants
  • Discuss issues sympathetically and confidentially
  • Advise you on entitlement to welfare and Housing Benefit or refer you for specialist advice
  • Help you to complete Housing Benefit claim forms
  • Provide details of other agencies that can help you with money advice, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, or undertake a referral via North Kesteven District Council.

Tenants of the Council are required to give 4 weeks notice in writing of their intention to end their tenancy and to provide a forwarding or contact address. During this time the tenant will be sent a letter advising them of the end date of their tenancy.

If at the end of the tenancy there remains rent that is unpaid, the former tenant will be sent a further letter advising legal action if payment of the outstanding debt is not made. We can come to an agreement to make sure that the debt is cleared by in instalments.

Continued failure to respond means the debt will be forwarded to an approved Debt Collector.

  • by standing order direct from your bank/building society

  • direct debit

  • Internet payments

  • debit card/credit card

  • by post using cheques or postal orders - please do not send cash through the post.

  • Tracing. The most common service provided by the agency is tracing. If the tenant has not provided a forwarding address when leaving the property or has moved on again and we do not know where to, the agency will find out and forward the correct address to us. We will then contact the former tenant to recover the debt.
  • Collection. The agency will also contact the former tenant directly and when appropriate we will ask the agency to collect payment on behalf of the Council.

We request that a debt be written off once we have pursued payment as far as our procedures demand. If we are unable to recover the debt, approval to write it off is requested. It does not mean that it is completely cancelled and should the tenant contact us or apply for housing in the future we would still request payment of the debt.

If the debt is written off, it can be reinstated at a later date. The debt is written off for accounting purposes but remains on file. If the tenant re-contacts us we can still pursue the debt after write off.

A claim is made against the estate. If there is no estate we may consider writing off the debt.

We will ask the Court to make an Order to Repay the Debt. A Court Order will affect your credit rating and may make it more difficult to get credit.

Before taking any legal action, we will make sure advice is always available to you, and we have given enough warnings, including:

  • Sending letters
  • Calling you on the telephone
  • Telling you the situation
  • Visiting you at your home
  • Inviting you to a Rent Arrears Hearing

We will treat vulnerable tenants sensitively and try to resolve any issues affecting payments before legal action is taken.

Remember that any debt could affect you in the following ways:

  • Prevent you from being re-housed
  • Affect you getting a mortgage, as details of debt will be given to mortgage companies or local authorities or housing associations
  • Affect your credit rating
  • Affect your right to buy your Council house

If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent you should contact your Housing Officer as soon as possible. We will work with you to agree repayments that you can afford.

Alternately you can also contact the Money Advice Worker based at the Sleaford Office on 01529 414155

If you do not make an agreement to pay arrears or if you break an agreement, we will take further action. This may include court action and in some cases people will loose their homes. If we need to take court action we will ask the court to make the tenant pay our legal costs.

Failing to pay your rent or not responding to letter about rent arrears could lead to you loosing your home.

The Council takes rent arrears very seriously. We can and do take legal action against tenants who are continually in arrears. Taking people to court will only be done as a last resort. This is because the tenant has to pay costs of around £300 and risks losing their home. The Rent Arrears Hearing is used to try and avoid legal action - after this, the Council’s solicitors get involved.

The Housing Officer and other relevant members of the Housing Team will be at the Hearing.

If you have been invited it is very important you attend - it is your chance to sort things out. You are welcome to have a representative with you.

The following happens at the hearing:

  • The Housing Officer will talk about your rent account, including payments that you have made or missed and any Housing Benefit you receive.
  • You will explain your circumstances. The Housing Manager will question the Housing Officer and tenant, and then summarise what has taken place. Both parties will then get written confirmation of what has been agreed.

Garage tenancies are held by both Council house occupiers and private tenants who have to pay VAT on garage rent.

Contact the Council’s Customer Service Centre on 01529 414155 immediately and inform the rents section regarding the problem.

A “Notice To Quit” will be served if payments are not made with a notice period of one week. The tenant is notified that at the end of notice period the garage lock will be changed and the garage will be reallocated to the next person on the waiting list. If the debt is not cleared this is referred to the collection agency.

If you have difficulty paying your garage rent, please contact us for help on 01529 414155. If you fall into arrears, it is very important to make contact with us so that we may come to an arrangement to clear the arrears.