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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am a social housing tennant and owed approximately one months

Customer Question

I am a social housing tennant and owed approximately one month's rent in arrears. My landlord wrote to me and served a 'notice of seeking possession'. I payed the arrears off in full the week later. Now I owe 2 week's rent and have just received a letter stating that my landlord has already served a 'seeking possession' notice and without further notice will apply for a court hearing in 7 days. As this is a new debt do they have to serve a. 'Seeking possession' notice first or can they just go ahead and take me to court? It is not a huge issue as I am in a position to pay my 2 weeks rent but just want to know my rights.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

When did you owe one month's rent?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C. The arrears were for August, which I paid in full on 16th September this year.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.

Is this an AST?

Did he serve a S21 notice and a S8 notice?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C. I have no idea what S21 or S8 is.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
An assured shorthold tenancy agreement?

What type of contract is this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C. It is an assured tenancy, I have been a tenant for 13 years now.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.

When did you sign the last one? What are the dates please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C. I last signed 2nd August 2002.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
And how long was that for?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There is no end date. I also have the right to buy this property.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

For Jo C. There is no end date. I also have the right to buy this property.

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied

I have been asked to look at this for you. I specialise in landlord and tenant law.

You mention the landlord has written to you a couple of time indicating he is going to be seeking possession. Could you tell me exactly what form taht correspondence took? Did he give you a formal notice on either occasion or was it just a letter advising you he would be seeking possession as you say?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It was a letter with a heading in bold letters : Rent Arrears - Notice of impending court action. The letter went on to say that this is a formal notice of seeking possession. At the time my rent arrears were £368 and I paid the amount in full within 7 days of receiving the letter. My most recent letter (received yesterday) states: Rent Arrears - Notice of impending Court Action. I write to inform you that your rent account is currently showing arrears of £190.36 as at date above (15th October 2013). I regret to note that despite my previously contacting you regarding this matter and the serving of a Notice of Seeking Possession, you have failed to make the necessary payments to reduce your debt (This in untrue as the previous arrears were paid in full). Seven days from the date of this letter and without further notice Halton Housing Trust will apply for a court hearing. This application to the court will be for a possession order for your home. If possession is granted to Halton Housing Trust, you will be evicted from the property.

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
Thanks. From what I understand your landlord is a housing association.

Have they contacted you priort to writing to you as above to discuss the cuase of your arrears and tried to work out how you may be able to pay the rent in the future? Have they started sending you a quarterly statement of your rent to you?

May I ask if you are claiming housing benefit?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, they contacted me about the £368 rent arrears and sent the same letter as I have currently received. As far as I am concerned they threatened to commence court proceedings because I owed 4 weeks rent, I paid those arrears off straight away and now they are saying they have already given me notice of their intention to commence court proceedings and I have made no attempt to pay my arrears off. I DID pay those arrears off and as far as I am aware this is a new debt, I owe 2 weeks rent that I will pay off in full next week when I get paid. I do not want the cost of court proceedings added, which is why I need to find out if they can just go ahead and apply to the court of a debt that has accumulated in just 2 weeks, which I have not yet had chance to pay off. On 2 separate occasions I have requested they send a form for a standing order and on 2 separate occasions to different members of staff have told me they will send one in the post, I have still not received on despite requesting this in July and September. I work 12 hour days 35 miles away from where I live and struggle to get to the outlets where I am able to pay my rent. They do send quarterly statements and no, I do not claim housing benefit.

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
thank you. Finally, one point on which I'm not entirely clear from the above whether your landlord contacted you specifically to discuss the following:
  • the cause of your arrears
  • your financial circumstances
  • your entitlement to benefits, and
  • how you plan to repay the arrears.

I appreciate they contacted you to notify you that you were in arrears but this is not necessarily the same thing as contacts you to discuss all of the above and try to work out how you can afford to avoid arrears in the future. Did they carry out this procedure altered visibly contact you to tell you in arrears and they were taking legal action if you didn't pay?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Well they called round on several occasion when I was at work and delivered hand delivered notes that were not in envelopes to say they wished to discuss my arrears. All of these notes were picked up and no doubt read by my child minder, which I was not happy about as I find my financial matters should be confidential and just because they have been posted through my letter box it does not mean that I would be the person to intercept the mail.

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
thank you. The reason I ask the above is because social landlords such as housing associations are required to follow something called a pre-action protocol before the issue proceedings for arrears of rent. Specifically, they are required to demonstrate that they carried out the above steps and if they cannot do so, they run the risk of an application they make to the court being struck out for failure to comply with the protocol.

if the landlord has complied with the protocol and does make an application to the courts for possession, there are further requirements they are obligated to comply with to include giving you up-to-date rent statements at least 10 days before the hearing date and advise you of the date of any hearing.

you are entitled to attend any court hearing and make representations on your behalf. If the landlord has failed to follow the pre-action protocol as above in any way, can seek that the landlord's application is struck out. If the pre-action protocol has been followed, the matter will be determined upon whether arrears have been repaid at the time of hearing and what evidence you can produced demonstrate that further arrears will not arise in the future. A judge will not likely evict a tenant and if you can demonstrate that you will not likely run into arrears in the future based on a combination of undertakings and documentary evidence of income, a judge will usually be prepared to give you a second chance and suspend the possession proceedings accordingly on the basis that the landlord can apply to reinstate proceedings if arrears arise again.

It is very important that you attend any hearing if the landlord does bring proceedings as failure to do so can result in a higher risk of eviction as you are not there to answer any question the landlord may have for you.

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

All I want to know is if they have served notice due to arrears and they were paid off in full, are they obliged to serve notice if arrears arise on a second occasion or can they just go ahead and apply for a court hearing?

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
Yes the landlord cannot issue proceedings based on out of date notice. Before issuing proceedings they must provide you with a notice setting out the date they wish to leave, the reasons you are being asked to leave - i.e. the up to date position in respect of rent arrears and include information on where you can obtain further advice.

The landlord cannot issue proceedings based on a previous notice where the arrears have since been remedied and accordingly no action was taken.

even after providing you with a new up-to-date notice, the landlord is still obligated to try to attempt to contact you to discuss your arrears and to be reasonable in respect of agreeing to postpone court action if you can bring your arrears up-to-date or at least reasonably up-to-date

Is there anything above I can clarify or assist you with any further?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, that's good to know. I will ring them on Monday to dispute my case. Like I say, I will have my arrears cleared in 9 days time but the letter states that they will apply to the court in 4 days time. I do not want the housing association attempting to add court fees to my rent account. I just wanted to be sure that they had to go through the process again as this is not the debt they originally pursued. I will rate your answer now. Many thanks.

Expert:  Joshua replied 4 years ago.
A pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me.

Best wishes