Housing association rent arrears
Your housing association can evict you if you don't pay the rent. But the housing association will have to go to court and satisfy a judge that eviction is reasonable before you'll have to leave your home.
Get advice if you are having problems paying your rent. An adviser can help you look at your financial situation and help you to work out what to do.
Work out your finances
It can be difficult dealing with a rent problem. You need to get your finances under control. If you owe rent you should:
Housing association recovery procedures
Each housing association has a different approach to dealing with rent arrears. Your tenancy agreement will explain your housing association's procedure. Ask for a copy of this procedure if you don't have it.
Most housing associations will follow a similar procedure when dealing with rent arrears. The steps that most take are:
- sending you a letter warning you that you are in rent arrears
- sending you a letter asking you to meet the housing association to discuss your rent arrears
- visiting you at home to discuss your rent arrears
- setting up a repayment plan to clear the arrears
- starting legal proceedings to evict you if you won't talk to them or you haven't stuck to your repayment plan.
Can my housing association evict me?
Your housing association can evict you if you don't pay your rent. But most will try to help you sort out your financial problems first, before taking any legal action. Most housing associations will have staff who can give money advice or ask you to visit a free debt advice agency for help managing your finances.
You can't be evicted until the housing association goes to court. Going to court to have you evicted should be a last option for your landlord. If it happens, it is very important that you appear in court to present your case.
If you owe rent, the court can decide to:
- make a possession order, which means you'll have to leave the property by a certain date and pay back any money you owe; or
- make a possession order, but suspend this as long as you agree to a repayment plan. If you don't keep up with this plan you may have to leave your home;
- dismiss the housing association's claim if you have paid off the money owing or have reduced the amount you owe to a low level
- postpone the hearing to a later date if you ask for this and have a good reason - for example you're expecting to start a new job, you have an appointment with a debt advice agency, you are waiting for a benefits claim to be resolved or you are expecting a lump sum which will allow you to clear the arrears.
The courts will usually only make an outright possession order as a last resort. It's really important that you get advice if you've been asked to appear at court.
I'm in arrears because of problems with housing benefit
Contact the Housing Executive if you have rent arrears because your housing benefit hasn't been paid. Your housing benefit may be delayed for a number of reasons:
- backlogs at the housing benefit office,
- the Housing Executive hasn't got all the information it needs to assess your claim.
If you have provided all the information you've been asked for you can ask for an 'interim payment' 14 days after you put in your claim. You should request this in writing and keep a copy of the letter.
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