Problems with Paying your Rent

Your rent is due in advance at the end of each month. If there is a balance on your rent account after the rent is charged on the 1st of the month then you have a rent arrear.If you are having difficulty paying your rent, we will work with you to stop an arrear building up and to reduce the debt over time according to your financial circumstances.

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Why do arrears happen?

Arrears most often arise due to:

  • Delays in submitting claims for Housing Benefit
  • Housing Benefit not being payable as the tenant hasn’t moved into the property
  • A change in income so that Housing Benefit is overpaid and is clawed back.
  • Failing to start paying rent directly when you start a new job
  • A change in your household, e.g someone who needs to contribute to your rent moves in or someone in your house reaches an age when the benefit rules means that they are due to contribute to your rent.
  • The tenant failing to pay what they are due
What will Oak Tree do?

Our approach is to work with you to deal with any arrears or rent payment problem at a very early stage. We will try to make personal contact with you as soon as we can after an arrear arises. This is so that we can try to find out the root cause of the problem and to jointly find a way of dealing with it before the debt gets out of hand. The rent charge is made every month and a debt can soon get out of control.

There are several positive things we can do:

  • Discover if there is benefit issue, which may be causing your arrear.
  • Assess your financial circumstances to discover the cause of the problem.
  • Give advice about benefits, which you may be entitled to, but are not claiming.
  • Put you in touch with specialist advice agencies who can deal effectively with multiple debt problems.
  • Agree if you need some support to help you cope with your tenancy and try to get you the help you need.
  • Agree a payment plan going forward to deal with the ongoing rent as well as the arrear.

We will certainly attempt to contact you once an arrear arises, but we would also advise you to get in touch with us as soon as you know you may have a problem. We will try all means of contacting you including calling at your home.

What can I do?

The most important thing you can do is keep in contact with us.

The Housing Services team monitor arrears cases and chase up payments. If you miss a rent payment, we would try to speak to you in the first instance or send you a message. We aim to send a letter within 7 days and to follow up with a visit if you do not contact us.

We may need to speak to you face to face to discuss your rent account in detail. This interview can be held in our office or in your own home and can be at a time that suits you including out of normal office hours. The interview is confidential. You can have another person present to support you if you wish to do so.

During the interview we will discuss:

  • Your income
  • Who lives in the house
  • What you spend money on
  • The reason for the arrears
  • Your employment details
  • How to contact you
  • If you receive support or help from a relative or support organisation
  • Where to go for debt or budgeting advice if this is needed

Having discussed all the possible avenues we can jointly take to help your situation, we will be looking to make an arrangement with you to stop the arrears increasing and to bring down the balance owed. We prefer to make an arrangement for regular payments towards the rent and arrears rather than large one-off payments. If you receive certain income benefits, a deduction can be made to contribute towards your arrear otherwise you will need to arrange to make payments yourself.

The arrangement will be confirmed in writing so you are clear about what you have agreed. When an arrangement is made, it is important that you stick to it. We take your circumstances into account to ensure the arrangement is realistic and reasonable so that you should be able to keep to the payments schedule.

Most arrears are sorted out in this way. If we cannot work with you to resolve the arrears, we may have to take legal action against you. We can take action to recover the debt or to repossess your home or both.

What does legal action mean?

Taking Legal Action to Recover Unpaid Rent

Before taking any legal action, we will serve a Notice of Proceedings for Possession on you and any other adult resident of your home, warning you of the court action. We will keep trying to make an arrangement with you to sort out the arrears problem, but if this fails we will instruct an action to be raised.

After a date is set for the court hearing, we will still try to work with you to resolve the arrears problem. You will be informed of the court date and should take your own legal advice and be represented in court.

We will tell you of what we intend to ask the court to do – this may be to seek decree for your eviction or recovery of the debt or it may have been agreed to drop the action if the arrears problem is resolved. Often, we will postpone the court action to see if you stick to the agreed repayment arrangement.

You can seek advice from the Legal Services Agency who have a Housing Rights Project and they have offices at 9 Sir Michael Street, Greenock. More information can be found at their website.

Visit Legal Services Agency Website

How can I get help?

There are lots of agencies that can help you and we are very happy to tell you about them or make a referral. Please don't bury your head in the sand. We want to keep you in your home and will support you if we can.