What action will the council take if I don't pay my rent?

The council will always take action to collect outstanding debts. This applies to current and former tenants.

The following will apply if you fall behind with your rent payments.

We aim to keep your rent arrears to a minimum by taking action early. This is because the larger the debt gets, the more difficult it becomes to clear it.

If you fall behind with your rent, we will:

  • send you a letter letting you know that your rent is overdue
  • contact you again, by letter, if you have not contacted us or cleared the arrears. This will be a fortnight after we send the first letter

You should contact us straightaway if you receive one of these letters.

We can help by:

  • allowing you to clear the outstanding sum in instalments
  • suggesting how to increase your income (for example, by claiming welfare benefits)
  • suggesting how you can manage your debts
  • advising where you can get independent advice

If you don't contact us:

  • We will either telephone or visit you at your home to discuss steps towards clearing the outstanding rent

If an arrangement to pay the outstanding sum has not been reached:

  • you will be served a Notice of Seeking Possession. This gives you four weeks to clear your rent account or make an arrangement to do this
  • once the four weeks have passed, we can take possession through the courts. This may result in you being evicted
  • we will also serve a notice if you do not make regular payments towards the arrears

If you have applied for housing benefit and you are still waiting to hear the outcome of your claim, you should let us know. We will not usually take any further action until your claim has been dealt with unless you haven't provided all the information that we have asked for.

If you don't contact us within four weeks of receiving the notice:

  • we will apply to the courts for a 'Possession Hearing' and will write to let you know that we have done this. This will incur court costs of over £200 that you will have to pay
  • we will write to you again as soon as we know the time and date of the court hearing. You will also receive information from the court

Once you have received the date of the hearing:

  • we can still help but only if you contact us before the date of the court hearing to make an arrangement to clear the outstanding rent
  • if you have made an agreement and kept to it, we will normally ask the court for a Suspended Possession Order. This means that you will be able to stay in your home if you keep to the terms of the agreement
  • if you have not made an arrangement to clear the outstanding rent, then we can ask for possession in 14 or 28 days. If the court awards this type of order, you will have to clear your account in full within 14 or 28 days. If you do not clear your account, we can then apply for a warrant to evict you

After you have attended the hearing:

  • if a suspended order is awarded and you fall behind with the payments ordered by the court, we will write to you. You will be given the opportunity to pay any missed payments.
  • you will also be asked to attend a meeting if there is someone living with you who is:
    • under 18;
    • elderly;
    • disabled or suffering from ill health; or
    • vulnerable for another reason.
  • the meeting will be with your area housing manager and the senior officer from the income collection team. During this meeting, you will be asked to supply details of income, outgoings and all other debts

It is important that you attend this meeting as it will be the last chance for us to look at your case before we apply for a warrant to evict you. It may still be possible to reach an agreement with you to repay the rent. This could mean that you stay in your home.

We will apply for a warrant to evict you if:

  • we have been awarded a 14 or 28-day possession order and you do not clear the rent outstanding in full; or
  • you have not paid for any missed payments and have not contacted us to make arrangements to clear the missed payment.

If we apply for a warrant to evict you, we will write to let you know.

We will then write to you to let you know the date and time of the eviction. When you receive this letter you can apply to the court to have the eviction postponed. A solicitor or Citizens Advice can provide further advice about this procedure.

If you become homeless because of the eviction:

  • you can apply to any council in the UK as a homeless person.
  • if you haven't taken advice from your Area Housing Manager to avoid eviction, you may be intentionally homeless. This means that councils will not have to house you.

If you would like more information, call the housing advice department on 01483 505050 or seek independent advice.

Our aim is for you to stay in your home and to help you find ways to pay your rent. If you are having trouble paying your rent, speak to your area housing manager.