DEBT RECOVERY POLICY
This Policy sets out the principles and approach we will take in making sure that rent and service charge payments and all customer debts are collected, that arrears are reduced and repaid when they do arise:-
- Castle Estates will ensure the prevention and pursuit of rent arrears and other debts is given a high priority
- Payment of rent and other charges (where applicable) are a condition of the Tenancy Agreement.
We expect our tenants to treat rent arrears as a priority debt.
- We will recover rent arrears in a firm but fair and consistent way – our methods will take into account our tenant’s individual circumstances.
- Eviction action will be taken as a last resort and only where there is clear evidence of non compliance on the part of the tenant, either to engage with Castle Estates or to make any effort to pay their rent and arrears.
Although your Tenancy Agreement stipulates that rents must be paid by Standing order with prior agreement we will consider:-
- Online payments
- BACS payments
- Cash payments
- Cheque payments provided cleared funds are in our account before rent payment date.
- Direct payments from Universal Credit
- Deductions direct from salary or wages
UNIVERSAL CREDIT RECIPIENTS
Tenants who expect to receive full Housing Benefit must submit a completed Housing Benefit claim immediately to ensure the prompt payment of their claim before the tenancy commences
Tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit are liable for payment each month of the full rent as stated in the tenancy agreement which you signed. This means that when your benefit entitlement has been fully assessed if the benefit which we receive direct from Universal Credit does not cover the full rental payment, you and/or your Guarantor will be liable to pay any shortfall directly to us.
This must be paid in full by the end of each calendar month in which any shortfall has arisen.
In pursuing arrears we will use a variety of ways to contact tenants including:-
- Text messages
We will issue rent statements on request
RENT ARREARS MANAGEMENT
The recovery of rent arrears is a priority for Castle Estates and to achieve this we have a proactive and effective process for arrears escalation and recovery.
- We will make sure that early contact is made with all tenants with rent arrears
- We agree an wherever possible to agree an affordable repayment plan
- If there is evidence of support and advice not being accepted or responded to by the tenant, or where repayment agreements are breached then appropriate warnings of further action will be issued.
- If the tenant has a guarantor we will also contact them at this point to request payment.
- In the case of there being multiple or joint tenants/guarantors for a tenancy, we will follow the above procedure to pursue all the tenants and guarantors.
- Legal action will be pursued in cases where a tenant has failed to:-
- Make contact with Castle Estates
- Cooperate in reducing the debt
- Maintain a repayment agreement to clear the outstanding debt of rent and arrears prior to taking Court action.
- Enforcement action will taken through the First-Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber to:-
- Seek possession of the property
- Seek recovery of the loss of rent.
If at any point we believe that a tenant is struggling to manage their finances, we will signpost them to places they can seek advice such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau.