Paying your Rent
Problems With Paying Your Rent
If you have a problem paying your rent it is best not to wait until you receive a reminder. Please contact us right away so that we can help you. Your tenancy could be at risk if you do not keep up your rent payments, but help and advice on how to avoid or reduce rent debt is available, just contact the Income Services Team. This can include making repayment agreements, budgeting advice, benefits advice and help to apply for benefits and budgeting.
If your home is at risk you may want independent advice. You can contact the Winchester District Citizens Advice who provides free, independent, confidential and unbiased help. Their contact telephone details are 03444 111 306 and their offices can be found at City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester SO23 9LJ or, Well House, 2 Brook Street, Bishops Waltham, SO32 1AX.
You can also contact the Winchester City Council Homeless Advice Team on 01962 848 163 to seek help with preventing homelessness.
We are here to help you.
Struggling to make ends meet? We can help you by checking that you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to and working out the best way of paying your rent and repaying any debt.
We can also help by putting you in touch with an organisation that specialises in giving debt advice or ask our own Money and Benefits Advisor to help you.
If you wish to look to see if you are entitled to any benefits, including Housing benefit, Universal Credit or Tax Credits please visit the following website www.entitledto.co.uk You will need your income information such as wage slips and other income streams to receive an accurate view of anything that you might be entitled to.
If you would like to review your own budget or even make one please use the following tool: www.entitledto.co.uk/budgeting
What happens if you don't pay your rent?
Tenant rent debt affects the City Councils ability to carry out repairs and improvements to properties. Please help us to improve your home by paying your rent on time or reducing the debt that you owe us.
If you fail to contact us or keep a payment arrangement you will be served with a Notice of Seeking Possession. This notice is the first stage of the formal legal action and could be the beginning of possession proceedings to repossess your home.
The notice gives you 28 days to either clear your arrears (debt) in full, or if you are unable to do this, we can make an arrangement with you to clear the arrears as quickly as possible by paying in instalments.
If you are struggling to pay your bills we can arrange for you to speak with our Money and Benefits Advisor or for independent advice you may wish to speak with the Winchester District Citizens Advice.
After 28 days we can consider possession proceedings to repossess your home if the agreed payment arrangements are not being made to reduce your arrears. The notice remains active for 12 months.
If your rent account is in arrears because you’re waiting for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to be paid, it remains your responsibility to resolve this as quickly as possible to prevent further action being taken.
Possession hearings are held in the County Court and a District Judge will listen to you and our Legal Representative or Housing Officer to decide whether it’s reasonable to give you more time to pay off your rent arrears.
You will be responsible for all court costs and legal fees. Our options are:
We can ask the court to set an arrangement to cover the full rent and clear your arrears by agreed instalments so you can keep your home. This is called a Suspended Possession Order.
We can ask the court for an Immediate Possession Order if you have failed to make any contact with us and have not made any attempt to reduce your debt.
If you clear your arrears before the court hearing we will ask for a money judgement for the costs.
If you clear your arrears in full and pay the court costs we can withdraw our application.
Paying Your Rent
Your rent is charged on Mondays every week of the year. It is your responsibility to ensure that your payment reaches your account on time.
If you wish to pay monthly then you must pay this in advance. To work out how much your rent equates to when paying monthly you need to carry out the following formula:
Weekly rent charge times by 52 weeks divided by 12 months
For example £120.00 * 52 / 12 = £520.00 per month.
If you pay your rent at the end of the month then your account may be in rent arrears which is a breach of your tenancy. If you pay in arrears please contact us to discuss ways to increase your payments.
We accept payments by a number of different ways:
- Direct Debit. Direct Debits are collected monthly by the Council, and there are currently two collection dates in any one month. Each payment covers the rent for that month, in advance. The Council can adjust the amount collected to take into account any change in the amount due, in these circumstances two weeks’ written notification will be given before the adjusted amount is collected.
- Call our automated payment service number (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week) on 01962 848 512.
- Cash payments at the City Offices
- Standing Order and internet banking (can take up to three working days to reach your account)
- Payments via the My Council House self service portal and the City Councils website (can take up to three working days to reach your account)
- Post Office. You can pay your rent at any Post Office throughout the country, providing you have your plastic payment card with you (can take up to three working days to reach your account)
- By Electronic Payment
- Via the internet, using our E-Payments System
- Via a touch-tone telephone system. Phone Payments 01962 848 512. This is a 24 hour automated service, please have your reference number and debit card ready (we do not accept credit cards).
The Direct Debit form can be downloaded from this page, printed off and signing by you. Please return to us.
The Standing Order form is also available below. Please add your tenancy reference number and either telephone your bank to set up or hand the completed form to your bank.
Breaching Court Orders
If you have been ordered to reduce your arrears by a court order, and have fallen into difficulty, you should contact us immediately to work out how you can catch up. If you cannot pay this in one lump sum, we may be able to give you a little extra time to complete the payment.
Remember, you always remain responsible for the full rent. If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit stops you’ll need to take all possible steps to get this resolved and keep us updated.
If you ignore our attempts to contact you about this, and your rent account is not brought up to date, we will apply for an eviction warrant which the Court Bailiff will serve on you.
When you receive the warrant date you should contact us immediately. Even at this late stage it might not be too late to stop the eviction.
We will only agree to stop the eviction if we are satisfied that you will keep to the terms of your tenancy and that you have cleared your arrears or negotiated with us an acceptable payment arrangement. This normally requires you making a lump sum payment that substantially reduces your arrears.
You have the right to ask the Court to review its decision to issue the warrant. You will need to contact the Court to complete an application form to suspend the eviction. The Courts make a charge for this application and is payable to them direct.
The warrant served by the Court Bailiff will show the date for your eviction.
On the date of the eviction the Bailiff will arrive at your home with officers from Winchester City Council. You will have to leave the property and the locks will be changed.
You will have to make arrangements to clear any remaining belongings from the property.
We will not offer you another property to move into.
You will still owe the debt.
Former Tenant Debt
When you wish to end your tenancy you must provide four weeks notice, even if you move out and provide the keys to us, and rent will continue to be charged until the tenancy is formally ended.
If you owe us any rent when your tenancy ends, we will contact you by letter, phone, e-mail or may visit your home. We will ask you to clear your account or agree to a suitable repayment arrangement.
If you do not leave a forwarding address and we have the details we may contact family members, your employer or use a credit reference agency.
If you do not pay the debt in a reasonable time there are a number of actions we can take:
- If you have moved to another council tenancy we can transfer the debt.
- We may ask a debt recovery agency to collect the debt.
- We may seek a court order against you. The options include a money judgement order, an attachment of earnings or a charge against a property you own.
Any legal action that the we have to take will cost you and effect your credit rating with catalogue / hire purchase companies.
When a tenant passes on, we still require that 4 weeks notice is served on the tenancy. Notice can be served by next of kin, the executors of the estate or individuals with a power of attorney.
Rent continues to be charged on the account up to the termination date and City Council can request the balance be settled from the estate of the deceased.
However, should there be insufficient funds available from the estate following funeral and legal expenses, Winchester City Council can arrange for the debt to be written off. Written confirmation of the lack of funds is required.
Where we have reason to believe false information has been provided, we may decide to investigate and where appropriate, resume legal action to recover any debts.
Calculating your Rent
Rents managed by the Housing Department fall into a number of categories:
For properties built by the Council before 2013, or converted into dwelling accommodation from common rooms in sheltered accommodation:
Council tenants who have been tenants of Winchester City Council since 2007 have rents set according to a national formula.
Council tenants who lived in their current properties before 2007 may have a slightly lower rent based partly on a formula used by the Council before 2002. The rent for that property will change when the property is re-let. This includes tenants moving to a new property as a result of a mutual exchange.
For properties built since 2013:
As per national policy, rents are based on 70% of an estimate of the rent for a similar property locally in the private sector.
Council Tenants on higher incomes – National “Pay to Stay” Policy:
A supplement to the above rents may apply, with effect from April 2017, where the household income (as defined by legislation) exceeds £30,000 per year.
Please note: for Council tenants, rents are charged weekly. Since April 2015 there have been NO rent free weeks.
Ex-tenants who have bought flats under the Right to Buy (and anyone who later buys the lease of the flat):
An annual Ground Rent applies.
- For flats sold before 1985, Ground Rent may be £25.
- For flats sold since 1985, national legislation fixes the Ground Rent at £10
- Where the lease has been extended by 90 years through the process set out in the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, the Ground Rent is one peppercorn (ie nil).
You receive information each year about your annual service charge. It is difficult to include full details in the letter to show how these charges are calculated. The document below `Your service charges explained’ presents further information to explain the charges and show how they are calculated.
These are charges included in your total rent, which are payable to us and can include charges for:
- flat block caretaking/cleaning
- communal lighting to your flat block
- sewerage charges in some locations
- grounds maintenance
If you live in sheltered housing your service charges could also include:
- providing alarm linked services
- maintaining the common room and laundry facilities
Please let us know if you still have questions so that we can update this information for the benefit of others.
Rent Statements are no longer normally sent out by post unless specially requested, because of postage and printing costs.
Details of rent account transactions are available by clicking this link: My Council House
Some tenants may be able to apply for Housing Benefit to cover some of their rent. although not all charges are eligible for benefit. Tenants awarded any Housing benefit will be advised of any remaining payments due by the Rent Accounts section.
While rent charges are set in advance for the entire financial year, Housing Benefit depends on tenants current financial circumstances and can be subject to change. The remainder of rent payable by the tenants can therefore alter. Any enquiries regarding a change in the amount of benefit credited to an account should be addressed to the Benefits Section.