New resident Michael* had got off to a poor start with his tenancy fulfilling only one full rent payment in an 18-week period.
Identified for his increasing rent arrears, several attempts were made to contact Michael which amounted to 10 home visits, 3 emails, 8 texts and 15 telephone calls - each unsuccessful.
During this period a referral was made for a Tenancy Sustainability Officer to investigate Michael’s case but they couldn’t establish contact. He also failed to attend an appointed pre-court meeting (which Accent puts in place as a final opportunity to avoid court proceedings) and didn’t respond to a Court Intention letter.
Michael’s rising debt and lack of contact left the team with no alternative but to initiate court action. A few days before the court hearing a Universal Credit payment was credited to Michael’s account. Our Income Recovery Officer contacted Universal Credit to determine if this was a one-off payment or part of an ongoing claim. This conversation took place on the day the case was due to be heard in court and the implication was that he was receiving monthly payments. However, with Michael still unobtainable and believed by neighbours to have abandoned his property, the course of action was to pursue immediate possession at court.
Unexpectedly, Michael attended his court hearing. The Income Recovery Officer explained to him that his lack of contact regarding his rent arrears would almost certainly have resulted in the loss of his home. Michael explained that he had faced difficulties since signing his tenancy agreement that had affected his ability to pay.
He had migrated onto Universal Credit and due to a change in circumstances, his move from Halifax (a full Universal Credit service area) to Bradford (not yet a full Universal Credit service area) had meant he had been placed in a transition from one benefit claim to another. The time it had taken for Housing Benefit to decline his original claim and for him to be awarded Universal Credit had left him without income for 2 months. Michael felt he had no option but to rely wholly on his mother, who he moved in with temporarily. He was upset at the thought of losing his home and realised he should have made contact sooner.
Payment terms were agreed in court and Michael was instructed to remain in contact whilst his arrears are being managed. He was also surprised to learn that our Tenancy Sustainability Officer could help him to secure a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to maximise his income for the future.
Support came just in time for Michael but could easily have had a devastating outcome if he hadn’t appeared in court.
Please Contact Us should anything affect your ability to pay rent. We have an incredible support team that can help to prevent eviction and homelessness.