Paying your Rent

 

  • How To Pay Your Rent -The Council offer a wide variety of ways to pay your rent.

    Direct debit – The easiest way to pay rent is by Direct Debit. We currently offer two collection dates: 1st and 10th of each month and the 1st for garage accounts. Please download one here (pdf) or email rents@winchester.gov.uk to request a form be sent to you.

    Automated Telephone Service – A quick way to make a payment with no queues or waiting! Call 01962 848 512. You will need your 7 digit tenancy reference number and your debit card

    Website – You can pay online at www.winchester.gov.uk/pay - You need your 7 digit tenancy reference number and know how much you need to pay.

    Standing Order: – If you want to remain in control of when and how often you pay then pay by standing order using the following bank account details:

    SORT CODE 62.23.59

    COLLECTION ACCOUNT NO: 00000000 (yes 8 zeros)

    Tenancy 7 digit reference number as the reference.

    Using your mobile banking app or telephoning your bank please provide the councils bank account details, the 7 digit tenancy reference number, how much and when you want to pay. You can set up daily, weekly, fortnightly, four weekly and monthly payments or even a one off payment!  

    Do you have a Post Office account or cant set up standing orders or direct debits? Cant get a debt card?

    Many Post Office accounts won’t allow Direct Debits, Standing Orders or won’t even issue a debit card. Even if you have a poor credit rating or have been refused a bank account in the past you can open a fee free Basic Bank Account with a high street bank and you might even save money as paying some bills such a phones, internet etc. you will be charged a premium paying at a post office or shop. Banks don’t widely advertise these types of account so you have to ask specifically for a Basic Bank Account.

    Please visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/basic-bank-accounts for more information if you have difficulty in opening a bank account. The Rent Accounts Team and the Tenancy Sustainment Team can both help tenants to open a bank account. Please contact us as we are here to help.

  • Problems With Paying Your Rent? - We are here to help.

    We are here to help and support you. We know that everyone can face a crisis or have money problems at times so please do contact us.

    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. This can include making repayment agreements, budgeting advice, benefits advice and help to apply for benefits and budgeting.

    You can contact the Housing Rent Accounts Team via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

    If you’d like free, impartial advice related to a housing issue, you can also contact local advice charity Citizens Advice Winchester District. The best way to contact them currently is on their Local Call Back Service 01962 848 003 or 01489 890 940 or by email advice@winchesterdistrictcab.org.uk

    Visit their website for more information www.citizensadvicewinchester.org.uk

    You can also contact the Winchester City Council Homeless Advice Team on 01962 848 163 to seek help with preventing homelessness.

  • Money Advice

    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

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • What happens if you don't pay your rent?

    We want to help any tenant that cannot pay their rent. We are ready to provide advice and support.

    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 by keeping to an arrangement agreement.

    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 Citizens Advice Winchester.
    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.

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancyapp, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • Pre-court action protocol

    The pre-action protocol prescribes the specific procedures that social landlords should follow before issuing possession claims.

    Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords

    Table of contents

    Paragraph

    Aims and scope of the protocol

    1

    Possession claims based upon rent arrears

    2

    Initial contact

    2.1

    After service of statutory notices

    2.8

    Alternative dispute resolution

    2.10

    Court proceedings

    2.11

    Mandatory grounds for possession

    3

    PART I AIMS AND SCOPE OF THE PROTOCOL

    1.1 This Protocol applies to residential possession claims in England and Wales brought by social landlords (such as local authorities and housing associations). This Part sets out the aims and scope of the protocol. Part 2 relates to claims which are based solely on rent arrears. Part 3 applies to claims brought by social landlords where the court must, in principle, grant possession and where s89(1) Housing Act 1980 applies. The protocol does not apply to claims in respect of long leases .

    1.2 Part 2 reflects the guidance on good practice given to social landlords in the collection of rent arrears. It recognises that it is in the interests of both social landlords and tenants to ensure that rent is paid promptly and that difficulties are resolved, wherever possible, without court proceedings.

    1.3 Part 3 seeks to ensure that, in cases where human rights, public law or equality law matters are or may be raised, the necessary information is before the Court at the first hearing so that issues of proportionality may be dealt with summarily, if appropriate, or that appropriate directions for trial may be given.

    1.4 The aims of the protocol are:

    (a) to encourage more pre-action contact and exchange of information between landlords and tenants;

    (b) to enable the parties to avoid litigation by settling the matter, if possible; and

    (c) to enable court time to be used more effectively if proceedings are necessary.

    1.5 Courts should take into account whether this protocol has been followed when considering what orders to make. Social landlords should also comply with guidance issued from time to time by the Regulator of Social Housing, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and, in Wales, the Welsh Ministers.

    (a) If the landlord is aware that the tenant has difficulty in reading or understanding information given, the landlord should take reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant understands any information given. The landlord should be able to demonstrate that reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that the information has been appropriately communicated in ways that the tenant can understand.

    (b) If the landlord is aware that the tenant is particularly vulnerable, the landlord should consider at an early stage–

    i. whether or not the tenant has the mental capacity to defend possession proceedings and the extent to which CPR 21 applies;

    ii. whether or not any issues arise under the Equality Act 2010; and

    iii. in the case of a local authority landlord, whether or not there is a need for a community care assessment in accordance with the Care Act 2014.

    PART 2 POSSESSION CLAIMS BASED UPON RENT ARREARS

    Initial contact

    2.1 If the tenant falls into arrears, the landlord should contact the tenant, as soon as reasonably possible, to discuss: the cause of the arrears; the tenant's financial circumstances; the tenant’s entitlement to benefits; and repayment of the arrears. Where contact is by letter, the landlord should write separately to each named tenant.

    2.2 The landlord and tenant should try to agree affordable sums for the tenant to pay towards the arrears, based upon the tenant's income and expenditure (where such information has been supplied in response to the landlord's enquiries). The landlord should clearly set out, in pre-action correspondence, any time limits with which the tenant should comply.

    2.3 The landlord should provide, on a quarterly basis, rent statements in a comprehensible format showing rent due and sums received for the past 13 weeks. The landlord should, upon request, provide the tenant with copies of rent statements in a comprehensible format, from the date when arrears first arose, showing all amounts of rent due, the dates and amounts of all payments made (whether through housing benefit, discretionary housing payments or directly by the tenant) and a running total of the arrears.

    2.4 If the tenant meets the appropriate criteria, the landlord should apply for arrears to be paid by the Department for Work and Pensions [‘DWP’] by deductions from the tenant’s benefit.

    2.5 The landlord should offer to assist the tenant in any claim that the tenant may have for housing benefit, discretionary housing payments or universal credit (housing element).

    2.6 Possession proceedings for rent arrears should not be started against a tenant who can demonstrate that –

    (a) the local authority or DWP have been provided with all the evidence required to process a housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) claim;

    (b) there is a reasonable expectation of eligibility for housing benefit or universal credit (housing element); and

    (c) they have paid other sums due that are not covered by housing benefit or universal credit (housing element).

    The landlord should make every effort to establish effective ongoing liaison with housing benefit departments and the DWP and, with the tenant’s consent, make direct contact with the relevant housing benefit department or DWP office before taking enforcement action.

    The landlord and tenant should work together to resolve any housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) problems.

    2.7 Bearing in mind that rent arrears may be part of a general debt problem, the landlord should advise the tenant to seek assistance from citizens advice bureaux, debt advice agencies or other appropriate agencies as soon as possible. Information on debt advice is available on the Money Advice Service website https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

    After service of statutory notices

    2.8 After service of a statutory notice, but before the issue of proceedings, the landlord should make reasonable attempts to contact the tenant to discuss: the amount of the arrears; the cause of the arrears; repayment of the arrears; and the housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) position. The landlord should  send the tenant a copy of this protocol.

    2.9 If the tenant complies with an agreement to pay the current rent and a reasonable amount towards arrears, the landlord should agree to postpone issuing court proceedings for so long as the tenant keeps to such agreement. If the tenant ceases to comply with such an agreement, the landlord should warn the tenant of the intention to bring proceedings and give the tenant clear time limits within which to comply again and avoid proceedings.

    Alternative dispute resolution

    2.10 The parties should consider whether it is possible to resolve the issues between them by discussion and negotiation without recourse to litigation. The parties may be required by the court to provide evidence that alternative means of resolving the dispute were considered. Courts take the view that litigation should be a last resort, and that claims should not be issued prematurely when a settlement is still actively being explored.

    2.11 The Civil Justice Council and the Judicial College have endorsed The Jackson ADR Handbook by Susan Blake, Julie Browne and Stuart Sime (2013, Oxford University Press). The Citizens Advice Bureaux website also provides information about ADR:

    http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/law_e/law_legal_system_e/law_taking_legal action_e/alternatives_to_court.htm.

    Information is also available at: http://www.civilmediation.justice.gov.uk/

    Court proceedings

    2.12 Not later than ten days before the date set for the hearing of the possession claim, the landlord should–

    (a) provide the tenant with up-to-date rent statements; and

    (b) disclose what knowledge it possesses of the tenant's housing benefit or universal credit (housing element) position to the tenant.

    2.13 (a) The landlord should inform the tenant of the date and time of any court hearing and provide an up-to-date rent statement and the terms of the order that will be applied for. The landlord should advise the tenant to attend the hearing as the tenant's home is at risk. Records of such advice should be kept.

    (b) If the tenant complies with an agreement made, after the issue of proceedings, to pay the current rent and a reasonable amount towards arrears, the landlord should agree to adjourn the court proceedings for so long as the tenant keeps to such agreement.

    (c) If the tenant ceases to comply with such agreement, the landlord should warn the tenant of the intention to restore the proceedings and give the tenant clear time limits within which to comply again and avoid restoration of the proceedings.

    2.14 If the landlord unreasonably fails to comply with the terms of this protocol, the court may make one or more of the following orders–

    (a) an order for costs;

    (b) an order adjourning the claim; or

    (c) an order striking out or dismissing the claim (other than a claim based on a mandatory ground).

    2.15 If the tenant unreasonably fails to comply with the terms of this protocol, the court may take such failure into account when considering whether it is reasonable to make a possession order.

    PART 3 MANDATORY GROUNDS FOR POSSESSION

    3.1 This Part applies in cases where, if a social landlord proves its case, the court must, in principle, grant possession and where s.89(1) Housing Act 1980 applies

    3.2 Before issuing any such possession claim a social landlord—

    (a) should write to the occupants explaining why it currently intends to seek possession and requiring the occupants, within a specified time, to notify the landlord in writing of any personal circumstances or other matters which they wish to have taken into account. In appropriate cases, such a letter could accompany any notice to quit or notice seeking possession and so would not necessarily delay the issue of proceedings; and

    (b) should consider any representations received and, if they decide to proceed with a claim for possession, give brief written reasons for doing so.

    3.3 The social landlord should include with its claim form, or in any witness statement filed under CPR 55.8(3), a schedule stating—

    (a) whether it has (by a statutory review procedure or otherwise) invited the defendant to make representations of any personal circumstances or other matters which they wished to be taken into account before the social landlord issued the proceedings;

    (b) if representations were made, whether and how they were considered and with what outcome; and

    (c) brief reasons for bringing proceedings.

    Copies of any relevant documents which the social landlord wishes the court to consider in relation to the proportionality of the landlord’s decision to bring the proceedings should be attached to the schedule.

    Updated: Monday, 13 January 2020

     

  • 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 Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • Evictions

    Despite lots of work to provide tenants with the help and support they need, there are around 5 evictions for non-payment each year.

    When eviciton is the only option, 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 and you will still owe the debt.

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • 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.

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancyapp, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • Calculating your Rent

    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 are charged rent every week of the year.

    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).

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Rents@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 521.

  • Service Charges

    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
    • heating

    Please let us know if you still have questions so that we can update this information for the benefit of others.

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Rents@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • Rent Statements

    Rent Statements are no longer routinley sent out by post unless specially requested. Details of rent account transactions are available by clicking this link: My Winchester Tenancy

    The Housing Rent Accounts Team are here to help and can be contacted via the My Winchester Tenancy app, email Housingincome@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.

  • Housing Benefit and Universal Credit 

    Anyone with a low income or someone that has had a reduction in income may be able to claim help for their rent payments.

    For all new claims, working age tenants will need to apply for Universal Credit. Please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit for more information and to make a claim. Please do not delay - claims will not be backdated.

    Some tenants may be able to apply for Housing Benefit to cover some of their rent although not all charges are eligible for benefit. For more infoirmation or to see if you are eligble please visit www.winchester.gov.uk/benefits 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.

    The Housing Benefit Team are here to help and can be contacted via email Benefits@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 205.