If you miss rent payments, then your rent account will be in arrears. Click here to read our Rent Arrears Policy.
We will let you know as soon as your account falls in to arrears. We will write to you to advise you of your arrears and try to speak to you so as we can work together to plan how you are going to get your account out of arrears. If you do not contact us after receiving a letter, or we can not contact you by phone, then we may visit you at home.
If your arrears continue to increase, we will let you know that we are planning to serve a Notice Seeking Possession. This is the first step that BCHA has to take before moving towards a court date. This may result in a money judgement, or possession of your home.
If arrears continue to increase we will let you know we’re planning to serve a Notice. A Notice is served to protect BCHA’s interest, once this is served every effort will be made to assist you to come to an agreement to pay back your arrears. Failure to do so will result in BCHA making an application to court to repossess your property. It will state why we are seeking possession. It can be served for several reasons, but in this case it will be for none payment of rent and service charges.
If you get a Notice Seeking Possession, make sure you contact us right away. We will arrange an meeting with you as soon as possible.
We will normally serve a Notice 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.
If you haven’t started to pay off your rent arrears by the end of the notice period (4 - 8 weeks depending on your tenancy agreement), we may apply to court for possession of your home. You may become intentionally homeless.
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.
The effects of having rent arrears
As well as the possible risk of losing your home, there are a number of negative effects of rent arrears:
- Applying for a transfer: If you want a transfer, mutual exchange, or to move under a mobility scheme, having rent arrears will reduce your chance of success.
- Getting credit: If you get a County Court Judgement against you to recover unpaid rent, this could give you a bad credit rating. This means that you will find it extremely difficult to get credit in future.
- Getting a mortgage: If you hope to buy your home through the HomeBuy scheme, or a shared-ownership scheme, the mortgage lender will ask BCHA for a reference. If you have had rent arrears then 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, then your local council may judge you to be ‘intentionally homeless’. This would mean that you would have no right to an offer of temporary accommodation.
What happens if you still won't pay?
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 if it reaches that stage.
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.
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.
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 you 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.