What if I don’t pay?

All tenants are responsible for their rent

It is a common mistake for tenants who are in receipt of full housing benefit to believe they don’t have to pay rent. They do – it is just that housing benefits make the payments on their behalf.

If a housing benefit claim is not renewed or a claim is cancelled, these payments will stop and your rent account will go into arrears. If this is not dealt with straight away you could be left with a large debt to pay as often Housing Benefits may not be able to backdate an expired claim.

In any circumstance if you are experiencing difficulties, you must contact us immediately on 0300 365 1111 as we will have options available to help you and you may be able to avoid legal action.

Before we take any formal action we will always try to contact you. If we are unable to contact you we will need to take further action to resolve your arrears. The first part of this process is to serve a ‘Notice of Seeking Possession’.

Notice of Seeking Possession (NSP)

This is a 28 day pre-court notice and has to be served prior to court action. The purpose of this notice is to give you warning that a court application may be made after the 28 day notice period has expired.

If you receive a NSP it is important that you contact us as soon as possible within the 28 days to avoid further charges being incurred.

A NSP is valid for 12 months, or until your account is clear. Whilst this notice is valid,court action can be taken at any time, though usually if you have defaulted on an arrangement we will try and contact you first to resolve the issue.

If arrears still exist after the NSP has expired we will reissue it to ensure that a valid notice is always on your account. As soon as you clear your arrears the NSP will cease even if you go back into arrears.

Can I stop legal proceedings?

We can stop proceedings at any time up to the point that a court application is made. We cannot stop legal proceedings once the court application has been made, however we can agree to an adjournment on terms rather than applying for possession of the property. This will only happen if you come to an agreement with us prior to or at the court hearing.

The agreement is drawn up detailing how much you will pay and how often, to clear your arrears this will be entered to the court. If the agreement is broken legal proceedings will begin again. It is important to come to an arrangement that you can afford to pay.

What happens in Court?

We will give details to the court of how much you owe, details of any payments received and what we have done to help you pay your debts. We will also ask the court to award us costs, this means in addition to your arrears you will be asked to pay court costs of approximately £325.

We could ask the court for a Possession Order, a Suspended Possession Order or the Court could adjourn the case.

Can I take someone to represent me in Court?

Yes, we would always advise you to seek legal advice and representation. You can bring along anyone you wish to represent you. The Citizen Advice Bureau can offer you help, advice and practical support. Alternatively you may wish to speak to a solicitor to represent you and speak to us on your behalf.

What is a Possession Order?

A Possession Order, which is granted by the Court ends your tenancy and gives us the legal power to evict you from our property. The Court will decide a date when the Possession Order comes into force, generally 28 days from the Court date. We have to apply for a warrant for eviction prior, which is served by the court bailiff at the eviction. A warrant application costs a further £121 which is payable by you.

What is a Suspended Possession Order?

A Suspended Possession Order can be granted by the Court. This means that as long as you continue to pay your rent as well as an amount to reduce your arrears each week that has been agreed by the Court you can continue to live in your home. A Suspended Possession Order will remain in force for 6 years or until your account is clear.

What happens if the Court adjourns the case?

The Court can adjourn a case for a number of reasons. Cases are adjourned for further work like benefits assessments to take place. Usually we would apply to Court for another date to continue proceedings.

What happens if I break the agreement made in Court?

If we have been granted a Suspended Possession Order and you break your agreement to reduce your arrears we will invite you to attend an interview, this will be with your Neighbourhood Services Officer to discuss your specific circumstances. They will review your case and come to an agreement to reduce your arrears. If you fail to attend the interview or do not reach agreement, we will return to Court to obtain a Possession Order and eviction proceedings will follow.

What happens if I am evicted?

You may be considered intentionally homeless as a result of being evicted, however this depends on your personal circumstances. you local council may be able to offer temporary housing. If a Possession Order is granted we will automatically inform your council who may be able to offer you help and advice.

What will happen if I am evicted, will I still have to pay?

Yes even if we evicted you, you will still owe us the money that lead to your eviction. We will continue to work with you to help you clear your arrears. If you do not make an agreement to pay, we can instigate further legal proceedings, including small claims court, which could affect your ability to access credit in the future. It is important that you remain in contact.

If you have outstanding debts with us you may not be able to apply to join you local housing waiting list/choice-based letteings (i.e. Property Pool Plus)

If you would like to comment discuss any of this information, please email enquiries@ovh.org.uk or call us 0300 365 1111.