THE Housing Executive has recently recovered possession of a property in Ballynahinch for rent arrears.
The total debt associated with the property amounted to over £4,700.
Danny Simpson, the Housing Executive’s South East Area Accounts Manager explained that the Housing Executive is committed to providing every opportunity for tenants to resolve their debt problems and added, “I understand that it is all too easy to slip into arrears. Members of staff in our office provide confidential help and advice to any tenant who has difficulty paying their rent, but it is important that they contact us at the earliest possible stage. The sooner we know the easier it is for all concerned to resolve the matter. We can, for example, work out and agree an affordable arrears repayment plan.”
“Reducing the level of rent owing in the Down District is one of our aims and, since January, the amount of rent owed has been reduced by over £32,000. This is largely due to the efforts of staff working with tenants who are in arrears.
“Rent can be paid using a rent payment card at the Post Office or the various PayPoint outlets within your area or by Standing Order through a bank or building society. Payments can also be made via the telephone or the internet using the NIHE website.
“We encourage tenants who are in arrears to contact the Area Accounts Office, based in Newtownards, to talk about the problem. We can arrange an affordable arrears repayment plan to enable tenants to repay their debt by instalments.
“Our Rent Arrears information leaflet informs tenants that we will offer a sympathetic debt counselling service, whilst reinforcing our aim to take legal action against those tenants who refuse to pay their rent arrears. Many tenants are eligible to receive Housing Benefit, and we encourage those tenants who think they may be eligible for this benefit to contact the Area Housing Benefit Unit in Newtownards for advice and assistance.”
Mr Simpson explained, “Regrettably, many tenants ignore warning letters and allow their debt to grow. In these circumstances the Housing Executive finds itself taking legal action to recover the debt or, as a last resort, seeking repossession of the house. During the past year in the Down District we have been awarded 15 decrees for possession by the County Court.
“I would stress that eviction is a last resort. We have always had the option of seeking the repossession of property, but have preferred to give tenants the opportunity to voluntarily clear the arrears owed.”
He reinforced the message saying, “Do not ignore your money problems. Contact the Accounts Office and discuss your rent arrears with one of our advisors or avail of the excellent service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau.”