When you become a tenant of The Highland Council, you take on certain rights and responsibilities. One of these major responsibilities is to pay the rent due. The rent is used to pay for repairs, provide other Council housing services and to repay the money borrowed by the Council to build and modernise Council houses in the Highlands. If you do not pay your rent, you have broken an important part of your tenancy agreement, and we can take steps to end your tenancy.
This page describes the steps we will go through to collect rent that is not paid when it is due.
Our Arrears Policy commits us to contacting tenants as soon as a payment is missed. This means that if at the end of the week your account is in arrears, we will send you a reminder letter. We do this because we think that it will be far easier to sort out any problems when the amount involved is a small one. If the arrears are paid, or if you contact us and make an arrangement to repay the arrears, we will take no further action.
If you have difficulty in reading the letters we send you, please let us know. We can make sure that we change the letters we send you, or contact you in person or send the letters to someone else who can act on your behalf.
When you contact us, we will try to help you. Our aim is to help you pay your rent and to pay off any arrears which have built up. We might advise changing where and when you make your payments, help you to claim Housing Benefit or find out if there are other ways in which you could increase your income. We might also advise you to get some expert help from The Highland Council’s Money Advice Service or your local Citizens Advice Bureau or your local Advice Agency. This advice is free and confidential.
If you have made an arrangement to repay your arrears and you cannot keep up the instalments, contact us straight away. We will see what we can do and we may be able to renegotiate the instalment amount. If you just stop paying or pay less than the agreed amount, we will continue to take action against you.
If the arrears are not cleared or you do not contact us or if you fail to keep an arrangement made, we will send you another reminder letter. If after both these reminders there are still arrears of rent or you still have not kept to an agreement to repay, we then start a legal process. This could end in you being evicted from your home. We will make every effort to speak to you in person before starting the legal process.
The legal process starts when we send you a “Notice of Proceedings for Recovery of Possession”. In this notice, we are warning you that after 28 days we can decide to take you to Court to get the Court’s permission to evict you.
Before we decide if we are going to take you to court, you will be invited to come in to the office to discuss the situation. If we cannot contact you or you do not attend the meeting, we will go ahead and take you to court.
Even after Court action has started, it is still possible for you to pay your arrears in full or come to an arrangement with us. After a Court summons has been issued, you will also have to pay Court expenses as well as the arrears of rent due. This could add over £100 to the amount of money you owe to us. Don’t ignore the summons. If you are not sure of what to do, you can ask for advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, local Advice Agency or a solicitor. You can let the Sheriff know that you want to pay the arrears by instalments by filling in part of the summons and sending it back to the Court.
In Court, we have to prove to the Sheriff that there are arrears of rent due and that we have acted reasonably when we made the decision to take you to Court. If you attend the Court or have someone else to talk for you, you will have an opportunity to argue your case to the Sheriff. The Sheriff can order you to pay the arrears or give us permission to evict you by granting a Decree
Fast Track Process
If you have arrears of rent and we have taken you to Court in the last 12 months, you will be treated differently. We will make the decision to take Court action against you much more quickly. Instead of sending you reminders, we will issue a “Notice of Proceedings for Recovery of Possession” as soon as you are in arrears of rent. However, we will always consider all the facts before we make the decision to proceed with Court action.
If you do not offer to repay the arrears, the Sheriff is likely to grant our request to evict you. If you agree in Court to repay the arrears but then fail to keep to the instalment agreement, we will have to make the decision about whether or not to evict you. We will not usually evict you without speaking to you first. If we cannot contact you and you do not come to our offices for an interview, we will go ahead with the eviction.
If you are evicted for rent arrears, you may be considered to have made yourself intentionally homeless. This means that the Council will not have a duty to re-house you and you will have to find your own accommodation. If your new landlord requires a reference and you have given them permission to contact us, we will have to tell them about your rent arrears.
Remember – the earlier you contact us, the smaller the debt will be and the easier it will be to work out a way to clear the arrears. If you do get into debt seek advice from us or an independent advice agency straight away.
For more information, please use our contact form.