Home fears over rent arrears

Clare Davies, from Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors.
Clare Davies, from Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors.
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Iam a single mother and on benefits. My house is rented originally from the council but was taken over a few years ago by another company.

 I have always been a good tenant. However, a few months ago I had problems with my benefits and now I have rent arrears of about £800. My landlord has sent me a Notice Seeking Possession and my rent officer is saying they are going to issue court proceedings to evict me. I have nowhere else to go. What can I do?

You have been served with a “Notice Seeking Possession”, which is the first step any landlord needs to take in order to recover possession of a property. It sounds like you have a registered social landlord and it is therefore likely that you have an assured tenancy, which is fairly secure.

 The Notice Seeking Possession will state the grounds relied on in seeking possession, ie that you have not paid rent. However, in order to obtain possession of your home it is not enough for the landlord simply to state that they have grounds. They also have to follow the correct procedure for obtaining a court order for possession. The first part of this procedure is to serve a valid notice, and so the validity of the Notice should be checked. If it is valid the notice is valid for a period of 12 months, ending with the last day of the month after which it was served. Your landlord can take court proceedings at any point within that time.

 Service of the notice does not mean that your landlord will take you to court, and these notices can to be used as a warning that you must pay your rent from now on.

 You should ensure that an agreement is reached with your landlord so that payments are made toward the arrears. Legal Aid is available to assist you with that. As there are benefit problems you should also seek advice as to whether those can be sorted out, to reduce the arrears.

 As you are an assured tenant, if court proceedings do commence, the court will have discretion as to whether or not a possession order should be granted and in these there are arguments to put forward that it should not be.

 If proceedings are issued and you receive notice from the court then seek immediate advice from a specialist housing lawyer. You may be eligible for free legal help.