About your rent
Rent payments form part of the conditions between the Council and its tenants.
How do you work out my rent?
The rent you pay is based on a valuation of your property and average local earnings. We work it out using a formula provided by the Government.
The amount that you pay usually includes an amount for water rates and sewerage charges, but it does not include Council Tax.
We may change your rent at any time by giving you at least 28 days' notice in writing.
If you are on a low income the amount that you have to pay could be reduced by claiming Housing Benefit.
Try the benefits advisor service on www.gov.uk website to find out if you could be entitled to Housing Benefit.
Why you should pay rent
Most of the cost of running the Housing Service is met from rent income. If some of our tenants fail to pay their rent, the burden falls on others to pay more. For this reason, we do not tolerate persistent non payment and if necessary, we will take legal steps to end tenancies where the rent account is continually in arrears.
When to pay your rent
Your rent is due weekly in advance every Monday.
Each year, there are four (and sometimes five) non-collection weeks when it is not necessary for you to make a payment. We will notify you when these weeks occur.
If you are in arrears (i.e. you have fallen behind with your payments) you should continue to pay your rent during these weeks as it is an opportunity to reduce the debt.
If you would prefer, you can pay your rent fortnightly or monthly in which case your payments should be made in advance.
Find out more about paying your rent.
What happens if I am having financial difficulties?
If you ever have financial difficulties, speak to your Housing Officer (Income) as soon as possible. They can give you advice and also help you to get in touch with other services that may help your financial situation. Call 01442 228000 to speak to your Housing Officer. If you fail to keep up with your rent payments you may end up losing your home.
What happens if I fall behind with my rent?
If you get into financial difficulties, please give your rent payments the highest priority. If you cannot pay your rent, contact your Income Officer immediately.
You may be able to claim housing benefit to help with your claim.
If you do fall behind with your rent and have not contacted us, we may have to start legal action to end your tenancy and evict you.
If you are having difficulty paying your rent, we offer as much advice and help as possible to help you with your financial problems.
If you cannot make a payment, or cannot pay the full amount due (or the full amount that you have agreed to pay), it is always better to let us know why and what you intend to do to make up the payment.
If you persistently fail to pay your rent, particularly if you do not discuss the problem with us, we cannot overlook your rent arrears and allow you to get further and further into debt.
If we need to start proceedings to collect rent arrears, we may serve you with a 'Notice of Seeking Possession' or a 'Notice of Proceedings for Possession' if you are an introductory or demoted tenant. This is the first step in legal action that could lead to you losing your home. You would also have to pay our costs of taking this action.
If you do not bring your payments up to date, we will go to court to ask for a 'Possession Order'. If you do not keep to the terms of your Possession Order and pay off the arrears, we will ask the court to arrange the eviction.
Unfortunately we do end up evicting some tenants each year. In 2011-2012 we evicted 19 tenants and their families. If you are evicted you will still owe the Council all the arrears and you will have to find your own accommodation. It is very unlikely that the Council will be able to offer you another council property even if you have children. We always try to avoid eviction, but it is very important that you talk to us as soon as you find any difficulty in paying your rent. We are here to help.
We will happily visit you at home to discuss the situation if you would like us to. Please contact your Income Officer in order to arrange this.
You can also get advice at any time from our Housing Solutions Team or Homelessness Prevention Team.
Please do not ignore the problem.
Even if your financial difficulties are only temporary, please contact us.
What if I have rent arrears from a previous tenancy?
If you have left a council property owing rent or other charges on it, we set up a 'former tenant arrears' account and chase up payment of the debt.
If you do not pay the debt, we take legal action against you.
What will happen if I fail to pay the the arrears left on my account?
We will contact you and give you the opportunity to make an arrangement to pay off the debt. If you do not agree or keep to an arrangement with us, we may employ a debt recovery company to collect the debt, and we may apply for a court order. You would need to pay all the costs of this.
Rent arrears from a previous tenancy can affect your credit rating if you do not pay them.
If you apply for housing in the future and still owe rent from a previous tenancy, your application may be put on hold until the debt is paid.
If you are experiencing trouble in paying your rent you should contact your Housing Officer (Income) immediately. Your Housing Officer can give you basic financial advice and can help you sort out your rent account.
There are also a number of places where you can obtain independent advice and assistance. Some of these are listed below.
You may also be able to obtain advice from your bank or building society, or from your employer's personnel department if you have one.
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU Dacre House, 19 Hillfield Road
0844 873 1303
Civic Centre, 161 High Street
Interviews by appointment only.
0844 873 1303
General and financial advice, benefits advice, debt counselling.
BENEFITS AGENCY 01923 208210
Benefit Enquiry Line 0800 243355
(for people with disabilities) 0800 882200 (Textphone)
HERTS MONEY ADVICE UNIT http://www.hertsdirect.org/benefits
Help and advice on claiming benefits
HOUSING LINK 01923 805604
Support and advice for vulnerable people
SHELTER Queensway House, Hatfield
NATIONAL DEBTLINE 0808 808 4000
Debt Counselling and advice
When you experience trouble paying your rent it is important that you take action as soon as possible. We can help you prevent the problems from getting out of hand.