I am in arrears with my rent. What are my rights?
If you are in arrears with your rent, you should first try talking to your landlord about the arrears and see if you can come to an agreement about repayment.
If the situation is caused by a delay to your housing benefit, you should write to your local Housing Benefit Office and request a payment within 14 days. If your Housing Benefit Office cannot process your claim quickly, you should ask for an interim payment. You should try and give the Benefit Office any information it requests.
If your rent arrears are caused by a difference between your housing benefit and the amount of rent you have to pay, you should apply to your Housing Benefit Office for a discretionary hardship payment. If your council rejects your claim or you disagree about the amount, you should write to the Housing Benefit Office within one month of the date of receiving your decision letter. Your claim will then be reconsidered.
Losing your tenancy
The normal way for a landlord to end an assured tenancy is to send you a document called a ‘Section 8 Notice’.
However, if you are in rent arrears and:
- you live in an Assured Tenancy;
- your tenancy is still in the fixed term; and
- your tenancy agreement doesn’t contain a clause to the contrary
then your landlord cannot end your tenancy even if they send you a Section 8 notice.
If you are in rent arrears and you live in a secure tenancy your landlord must send you a Section 83 notice warning you of their intention to end your tenancy.
If you need help dealing with your rent arrears, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
I'm being evicted because of my rent arrears. What can I do?
If you are getting behind with your rent, it’s important to act quickly to avoid the risk of being evicted.
However, you cannot be evicted from your home until:
firstly, your landlord has obtained a court order to repossess the property; and
secondly, the court has issued a court bailiff with a warrant to evict you.
Your first step should be to check your rent book, payment statement and receipts to make sure that your landlord is asking for the correct amount in arrears.
You should then discuss the rent arrears with your landlord, and try to come to an agreement about repayment with them. If you cannot pay the full amount you should try to pay some of the rent arrears back regularly.
If you get housing benefit, the rent arrears may have arisen through a delay in the processing of payments. You should check any correspondence from your local council carefully, and speak to their Benefits Department to check your entitlement to housing benefit.
If you are still unable to pay your rent arrears and think you will be evicted, you have the right to make a homeless application to your local council.
If you need help dealing with your rent arrears, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
I'm being evicted because of mortgage arrears. What can I do?
If you are having trouble paying your mortgage, it’s important to act quickly to avoid the risk of your home being repossessed.
However, your home cannot be repossessed until:
firstly, your mortgage lender has obtained a Court Order to repossess the property; and
secondly, the Court has issued a Court Bailiff with a warrant to evict you.
Your first step should be to discuss the mortgage arrears with your bank, building society or other lender. Most lenders will be very happy to discuss any arrears with you, so that they can try to resolve the problem quickly. You should look at your income and your outgoings, and try to come to an agreement with your lender on the arrears. It may be possible for you to agree more realistic payments on your mortgage, to avoid losing your home.
If you need help dealing with your mortgage arrears, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
I am homeless. What can I do?
If you have nowhere to live, then you are homeless and you have the legal right to seek help from your local council. They must look into your claim of homelessness and provide help if they think you are eligible.
As soon as you think you may become homeless, you should contact your local council immediately. You will need to fill in a homelessness application form, and may be interviewed at the council’s offices. It is important to tell the council the truth in your application otherwise you may be committing a criminal offence. At this point you may also apply to join the council’s waiting list for housing.
If you are homeless and in ‘priority need’, the council should try and provide you with emergency accommodation until they have made a decision on your homelessness application. You are considered to be in ‘priority need’ if:
- you are pregnant;
- you have children;
- you are elderly; or
- you are otherwise vulnerable.
The council should investigate why you became homeless. They may do this straight away, or ask you to return to their office at a later date. The council normally has 33 working days to make a decision.
The council must tell you their decision in writing. If you think that the council have got it wrong you have the right to ask for this decision to be reviewed. Even if the council decides you are not eligible for assistance, they have a legal duty to give you advice to try to help you to resolve your homelessness.
If you need help dealing with homelessness, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
My landlord won't return my damage deposit. What are my rights?
Your landlord should return your damage deposit if they have checked your property and agreed that no damage had been caused. If your landlord claims that you are responsible for damage, you should make sure that they prepared an initial inventory.
If your landlord decides that there is some slight wear and tear, you should argue that your landlord should expect a reasonable level of wear and tear (unless the tenancy agreement states that any wear and tear could endanger the return of your deposit).
If your landlord continues to keep your deposit, you should write to them asking for the return of your deposit within 14 days. You should also say that if your landlord does not return your deposit, you will recover it in the Small Claims Court.
If you don’t agree with the landlord’s description of the condition of your property, you should look over your tenancy agreement and check that:
firstly, there is a clause that allows your landlord to keep your damage deposit; and
secondly, the items that your landlord is keeping the deposit for are specifically mentioned.
Unless the agreement includes one or other of these your landlord does not have the right to keep your deposit. However, you must not withhold a month’s rent in place of the damage deposit – this would be illegal. You should seek legal advice if you are planning to do this.
If you need help dealing with a retained deposit, or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
My house is part of a Council Stock Transfer. How does this affect me?
A ‘council stock transfer’ means that you change from being a secure tenant of the council to an assured tenant of a registered social landlord. Before a transfer can take place your new landlord must agree to offer a new assured tenancy agreement.
Your new tenancy agreement specifies your rights and sets out details of the rent and any other charges, how often they will increase, and how much notice you must get of any change. It should make clear the obligations of the landlord and explain your obligations on the use of the property and its state of decoration and repair.
If you have the ‘Right to Buy’ with the council you will still have the right to buy your home after the transfer. This is called ‘Preserved Right to Buy’. Even if you do not have the ‘Preserved Right to Buy’, you may be eligible for the ‘Right to Acquire’. The ‘Right to Acquire’ gives registered social landlords’ tenants a statutory right to purchase their home with the benefit of a discount, generally between £9,000 and £16,000, depending on the local authority area.
The scheme applies to properties transferred from local authorities to registered social landlords after 1 April 1997, with certain exceptions such as homes in small rural settlements. You must have spent at least two years as a public sector tenant to qualify for the scheme.
If you are worried about council stock transfer or any other aspect of housing, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our housing adviser on 020 7373 6262.
I do not agree with the decision on my benefit claim. What do I do next?
If you have been turned down for a benefit claim, or you have been awarded less than you think you are entitled to, you have the legal right to challenge the decision. You can challenge a benefits decision by asking the office which sent you the decision to reconsider it, or by appealing to an independent tribunal. You should challenge the decision within one month, but you may be able to ask for more information about the decision first.
If you ask the benefit office to look at your benefit claim again, it will be reconsidered by a different person from the one who looked at your original claim. At this stage, if the office asks you for any further information, it is important that you provide it within one month. If you appeal instead, the benefit office may decide to look at your benefit claim again anyway. They will let you know if they change the decision, and how this affects your appeal.
If you are still not happy with the decision on your benefit claim after it has been reconsidered, you can appeal at this point instead. Appeals are heard by an independent tribunal which is completely separate from the benefit office. You must appeal within one month of the date of the letter telling you the decision or the outcome of the reconsideration.
If you are appealing a decision, it is best to use the standard appeal form to lodge your appeal, to make sure you include all the necessary information. There are different appeal forms for different benefits. You can get the right form from the office which made the benefit decision, or from some advice agencies.
There may be a delay of several weeks before the decision of the independent tribunal is made. You will be asked whether you want a hearing that you can attend, or a hearing which is just based on written evidence. If you don’t respond to this question within the time limit, usually 14 days, your appeal may not be heard at all. It is a good idea to ask for a hearing which you can attend, and if possible to find someone to represent you as well. Even if you don’t ask for a hearing that you can attend, the benefit office may ask for one, or the tribunal may decide there should be one.
The rules regarding tax credits are different. You can get information about tax credits from the Tax Credits Help line on 0845 300 3900.
If you have had a benefit claim turned down and need help dealing with it or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
My benefit has been overpaid. What do I do?
If your benefit has been overpaid you may have to pay the balance back. There are different rules on whether you have to repay an overpayment, depending which benefit has been overpaid:
- For social security benefits you normally only have to repay an overpayment if it was your fault; for example, because you failed to tell the benefit office some important fact, or you told them something that was incorrect.
- For Housing and Council Tax Benefit, you usually have to repay all overpayments, unless they were entirely the council’s or benefit office’s fault, and you could not be expected to realize you were being overpaid.
- For tax credits, HM Revenue and Customs are legally allowed to recover all overpayments, although they have discretion not to in cases of hardship or official error.
If you have to pay the overpayment back, the benefit office may recover it either by making deductions from your ongoing benefits or by billing you for the overpayment.
Check the amount
You should always check how much of the overpayment is repayable. Any amount of benefit you were genuinely entitled to over the period of the overpayment should be taken into account. In some cases it may be possible to reduce the overpayment to take account of other benefits that you did not claim for the same period.
Challenging the overpayment
You can challenge an overpayment for two reasons. You may think you are entitled to some or all of the extra benefit you have received; or you may think the overpayment is due to an official error and the benefit office cannot recover it. In both cases, you can ask the benefit office to reconsider the overpayment.
For social security and Housing or Council Tax benefit overpayments you can appeal to an independent tribunal.
For tax credit overpayments you can only appeal if you do not agree the amount of the overpayment. There is no appeal about whether you have to repay a tax credit overpayment, but you can still ask the Inland Revenue to reconsider, and you could make a complaint if the overpayment was due to HM Revenue and Customs error or delay
You should take action within one month. If you ask the benefit office to reconsider, a different person from the one who originally calculated the overpayment will be in charge. If you are still not happy with the result after the overpayment has been reconsidered, you can appeal at this stage. If you appeal, your case will be considered by a tribunal which is completely separate from the benefit office.
Even if there has definitely been an overpayment of benefit, and the benefit office has the power to make you pay it back, they do not have to do so. You can ask them to exercise their discretion not to recover it from you. For example, you might ask them to do this because of health reasons or financial hardship. You should contact the overpayment section of the benefit office and supply evidence about how paying back the overpayment would affect you.
If you are paying back an overpayment and you cannot afford the instalments, or the deductions from your benefit are too high, you may be able to negotiate with the benefit office about paying it back at a lower rate.
If you are overpaid benefit, the benefit office may also investigate you for benefit fraud. You should seek specialist advice if this happens. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you could be prosecuted, or have to pay a penalty, or you may lose benefit in the future.
All overpayment issues are complicated. If you have a problem to do with benefit overpayment, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
Who is entitled to Pension Credits?
State Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit administered by the Pension Service. You can get Pension Credit whether or not you are working.
There are two parts to Pension Credit: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit is for people over 60. It works by topping up your income to a basic level, based upon your circumstances. A portion of your income is calculated as coming from any savings you might have over £6,000, or over £10,000 if you live in a care home.
Savings Credit is for people aged 65 or over who have other income beside the state pension. For example, you may have an occupational pension or a private pension, earnings, money from savings or money from tenants. Savings Credit tops up this other income if it is between certain limits. Savings Credit is paid to you on top of any Guarantee Credit. You may also claim Savings Credit if your income is too high to receive Guarantee Credit.
If you want more information on claiming Pension Credit, call the Pension Credit application line on 0800 99 1234. Remember that you may also be entitled to other benefits depending on your circumstances.
If you need help dealing with Pension Credits or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
Who is entitled to Tax Credits?
Tax credits provide additional payments for people on low incomes. They are paid by the Tax Credits Office, which is part of the Inland Revenue.
You may be eligible for Working Tax Credit:
- if you are a lone parent or a couple with a child and you work at least 16 hours per week;
- if you do not have a child, you are 25 or over and you work at least 30 hours per week;
- if you are disabled and you work at least 16 hours a week; or
- if you are 50 or over and are returning to work for at least 16 hours a week after a period on benefit.
Working Tax Credit can include help with childcare costs, and extra help if you are disabled. It is usually paid to you with your wages, but the part for childcare costs will be paid direct to you. If you are self-employed it will all be paid direct.
You may be eligible for Child Tax Credit if you have children. It is paid on top of Child Benefit and usually to the main carer. It includes extra help for disabled children. For Child Tax Credit, it does not matter whether or not you are working.
Both tax credits are means tested. Means testing will be based upon your income in the previous tax year (running April to April). If your actual income turns out to be higher or lower then you will either have to pay back the extra or be paid more at the end of the tax year. To avoid this, you can tell the Tax Credits Office about your current income whilst you are getting tax credits, so that they can revise your award during the year. You should also tell them about other changes in circumstances.
Claims for tax credits can be made online, or you can fill in a paper claim form. You can get a form and other information from the Tax Credits Help line on 0845 300 3900. You will need to give the Tax Credits Office details of a bank account that you want the money paid into.
If you need help dealing with tax credits or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
I'm returning to work. Do all my benefits stop?
If you are returning to work, you won’t necessarily lose entitlement to all your benefits.
- Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefit and Reduced Earnings Allowance can all be claimed in full whilst you are working. If you are a carer, you may be able to continue claiming Carer’s Allowance in full if you still meet the conditions and you are not earning more than a certain amount per week.
- Incapacity Benefit usually stops if you are working, but you can still claim it if your hours and earnings are below certain limits, providing you tell the benefit office in advance.
- You may also claim part or all of Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and help with NHS costs, for example prescription costs and dental treatment. Your eligibility will be worked out by a means test that looks at your income.
- If you are returning to work part-time and you will be working under 16 hours a week, you may be able to claim Income Support or Job seeker’s Allowance, depending on your income.
- You can still get Child Tax Credit if you are working, but the amount you get may change because of your earnings.
Several schemes are available to help you financially whilst moving off long-term benefits and back into work. They include training program and allowances, help with child care costs, the New Deal, and many more. You can find out more about these through your local Job Centre
You may be entitled to working tax credit once you start work, depending on your income and the number of hours you are working. You must be working at least 16 hours a week to claim working tax credit. Some single people or childless couples have to be working at least 30 hours a week. You can find out more about it from your local Job Centre or the Inland Revenue.
You should tell the agency that pays your benefit that you are returning to work, even if you do not think it will affect your benefit. If you do not do this you could be overpaid, or even investigated for fraud. You should state the exact date you intend to start work, the number of hours you will be working and your rate of pay. If you are no longer entitled to benefit, the agency will write to you. They will then send you any money owed to you or tell you whether you need to repay any benefit, and state in writing that your claim is now closed.
If you need help with leaving the benefit system or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 6262.
I'm having problems with housing benefit.
Housing benefit is a means-tested benefit administered by your local council. Although your council runs the system, they have to apply rules that are set by the Government.
People experience many different problems with housing benefit. The most common problems you may experience include:
- delays in processing claims;
- overpayments or underpayments;
- difficulty in backdating a claim; and
- your benefit not covering your rent.
How to challenge a decision
- If you think a decision about your housing benefit is wrong, you can challenge it. For example, you may think you are entitled but have been turned down, or you may think you have been paid the wrong amount. You have the legal right to ask the local council to reconsider their decision, or you can appeal to an independent tribunal. You should take action within one month.
- If you are unhappy with a decision about your rent (for example, if the rent your housing benefit can cover has been restricted), you can ask the council to look at this decision again, but you cannot appeal. You should take action within six weeks.
- After the council has looked at your case again, it will write to tell you the result and whether you have a legal right to appeal against the decision if you are unhappy with it. You should do this within one month. The council may provide a form for you to submit your appeal, or they may accept a letter if it contains all the information they need.
Overpayment and underpayment
- If you are paid more housing benefit than you are entitled to, you usually have to pay it back. However, you do not have to pay it back if the overpayment was caused only by an official error and you could not have been expected to realize you were being overpaid. If you have been told that the council can recover an overpayment but you think it was caused by an official error which you could not have noticed, you can challenge the decision by getting it reconsidered or appealing.
- Even if an overpayment was not caused by an official error, the council do not always have to get the money back and you can ask them if they will consider not recovering it, for example if recovery would cause you hardship.
- If there has been an overpayment, the council may also investigate you for housing benefit fraud. You should get specialist advice if this happens. Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and you could be prosecuted, or asked to pay a penalty, or your benefit may be reduced in the future.
- If your housing benefit is not enough to cover your rent, you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment from the council. This is not a payment of housing benefit, but it is extra money that can be paid to people to help with their housing costs.
Complaining about your housing benefit claim
If you are not happy with the service provided by the council, for example if there are long delays on your housing benefit claim, or mistakes are made, then you can complain. The council will have its own complaints procedure. If you are still not happy after you have been through the complaints procedure, you can go to the Local Government Ombudsman with your complaint. You can complain whether or not you also want to challenge a housing benefit decision.
If you need help dealing with your housing benefit or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
What benefits are available for people with disabilities?
The main disability benefits are Disability Living Allowance for people under 65 years of age and Attendance Allowance for people over 65 years of age.
If you are under 65, you can claim Disability Living Allowance for help with:
- mobility, if you have severe difficulties walking outdoors; and/or
- personal care, if you need help from another person in connection with bodily functions.
Bodily functions are things like bathing, eating, cooking, going to the toilet and getting out of bed. Things like shopping and housework do not count as bodily functions.
Attendance Allowance is for people over 65 and is the same as Disability Living Allowance except that you can’t claim help for mobility problems or cooking.
If your claim for Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance is successful, then you may be eligible to claim more on your other existing benefits, or even claim new benefits.
Illness and disability are taken into account when working our how much Income Support, Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit you are entitled to.
You may also be able to claim Industrial Injuries Benefit if you became ill or disabled through a work-related accident or disease.
If you became ill or disabled through service in the armed forces, you may be able to get help from the War Pensions Scheme or the Armed Forces’ Compensation Scheme.
You can get Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Industrial Injuries Benefit and War Pensions/Armed Forces’ Compensation whether or not you are working, as long as you meet the conditions of entitlement.
If you cannot work, you may be able to get Incapacity Benefit. You usually have to have paid National Insurance contributions to get this, unless you have not been able to work from a young age. If you cannot get Incapacity Benefit, you may be able to get Income Support as someone who cannot work, depending on your income.
If you need help dealing with your disability-related benefits or any other aspect of welfare benefits, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with our welfare benefit adviser on 020 7373 4005.
What are the powers of bailiffs and debt collectors?
Bailiffs are employed by creditors to collect debts owed to them and may seize your goods as a form of payment.
Creditors may at some stage use bailiffs to attempt to seize property to be sold to repay debts owed. Generally they can not do this without permission from the Court. The Magistrates court will grant permission for the use of bailiffs for debts such as Council Tax or Fines whereas the County or Civil Court will issue warrants in relation to unsecured, consumer debts.
There are several types of Bailiff that may be instructed depending on the type of debt and who it is owed to. In most cases a bailiff would either be a Certificated Court Officer or be employed by a Private Firm that have been asked to collect the debt.
Bailiffs cannot enter your property by force unless they have been let in on a previous visit to collect the same debt. You should, therefore, consider refusing to let the bailiff into your home. This will ensure that they cannot force entry if they visit again.
If you let a bailiff into your home, they will usually ask you to sign a walking possession agreement and leave goods on your premises as long as you make payments as they demand.
Bailiffs cannot seize your basic household goods, clothing, bedding and tools of the trade. They are not allowed to seize goods belonging to a person other than the debtor but can normally seize jointly owned goods. The proceeds of any sale of jointly owned goods would have to be divided between the owners.
Debt collectors are not bailiffs and do not have the same range of powers. They must not harass people who owe money, but they are allowed to pursue debts by letter, phone, and in extreme cases legal action. They are also allowed to petition for bankruptcy.
If you need help dealing with bailiffs, debt collectors, bankruptcy or any other aspect of debt, we recommend that to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
My creditors keep calling me. What can I do?
People you owe money to are called creditors. Both creditors and collection agents use letters and telephone calls to recover debts as an alternative to court action. Most creditors have limited powers to recover a debt unless court action has been taken against you and you have not paid as ordered by the court. Some creditors may mention that they can make you bankrupt for debts of £750 or over. It is very rare for a creditor to take this action.
If you receive telephone calls from your creditors, it is important to explain that you are having financial difficulties and how you hope to resolve the situation. If you have done this and you are still receiving persistent calls from your creditors or their collectors, this may count as harassment.
Creditors should not put undue pressure on you to pay more than you can afford. Office of Fair Trading guidelines state that, for example, creditors should not:
- contact you by telephone too frequently;
- pressure you into selling any of your property or assets; or
- pressure you into taking on further debt to repay existing debts.
If your creditor is not following these guidelines then you should keep a note of calls from your creditor including the date and time as well as the name of the person you are speaking to. You should also keep a copy of all letters. This information can then be used to complain to the Office of Fair Trading or your local Trading Standards Office.
If you need help dealing with your creditors, or any other aspect of debt, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
What is involved in going bankrupt?
Bankruptcy is an option you can take when you have debts that you cannot afford to pay.
In bankruptcy the Court appoints someone to take over the management of your financial affairs. The person is usually called the Trustee.
You can be made bankrupt by your creditors. Alternatively you can petition for your own bankruptcy, but in both cases you must owe more than £750. If you owe less than £5,000 other options are likely to be more appropriate.
Advantages of bankruptcy include:
- most creditors have to stop chasing you for the debt and make their claim to the trustee instead;
- it’s a chance to make a fresh start.
There are some disadvantages to bankruptcy:
You may lose certain assets – but your basic household goods, clothing and tools of the trade should not be taken.
Any bank accounts you have will be frozen, although it is normally possible to open a new basic bank account after the bankruptcy order.
Some of your debts may still be payable at the end of bankruptcy; such as Court fines, maintenance, child support payments and secured loans.
Bankruptcy may affect your job, your home or your tenancy.
You may have to make monthly payments to the Trustee. If this happens, you would normally be expected to make payments over three years.
Bankruptcy is usually worth considering if you have large debts that could not be repaid over a reasonable period of time.
If you need help dealing with bankruptcy or any other aspect of debt, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
I have received a County Court Claim form. What do I do now?
Receiving a County Court claim form can seem very worrying, but you can usually deal with the process through the post, without the need for a court hearing.
If the claim you receive is for money you owe, the forms you use to reply will normally be enclosed with the claim form. It is important to reply within 14 days of receiving the forms.
If you wish to seek further advice over a possible defence, you should complete the ‘acknowledgement’ form within 14 days, which will extend your time to send back a defence form to 28 days.
How to reply
You can reply to the claim in several ways:
If you feel that the amount owed is correct but you cannot afford to repay the debt in full, you can use the ‘Admission’ form; complete this with your financial details and offer of payment and return it to the ‘claimant’ within 14 days. Don’t offer to pay more than you can really afford.
If you feel you don’t owe the debt, you can use the ‘Defence and Counterclaim’ form. If you wish to defend the claim, you must send the defence form back to the court.
If you feel that some of the debt owed is correct but that the rest is incorrect, then you can use both the forms.
Asking for a review
If you have made an offer to pay, but the court has ordered you to pay more than you have offered, you can ask the court to reconsider your offer at a hearing. Any hearing would be at your local county court.
If you don’t pay
If you fail to make payments as ordered by court, the claimant can apply for enforcement. This could be by, for example, asking the court bailiffs to visit you; applying for an attachment of earnings order; or asking the court to put a legal charge on any property you own (such as your home).
Court costs and fees will usually be added to your debt if a judgment is entered against you.
If a county court judgment is entered against you, this will be registered unless the debt is paid within 28 days of the judgment being made. It will remain on your credit record for six years after the judgment.
If you need help dealing with a County Court Claim form or you are concerned about any other aspect of debt, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
How can I deal with my Council Tax arrears?
Council tax arrears should be dealt with promptly. If you don’t come to an arrangement to pay, your council can take enforcement action against you. This could include, for example:
- getting an amount deducted from wages or certain benefits;
- sending bailiffs;
- applying for a legal charge on any property that you own; or
- making you bankrupt.
If all else fails, your council can ask the magistrates’ court to consider sending you to prison for non-payment.
Checking the bill
You could take the following actions to check the amount you owe is correct and possibly reduce the arrears:
- Claim any council tax benefit which you are entitled to. You may be able to get this backdated.
- Claim any exemptions, reductions or discounts which you are entitled to. For example, if you are the only adult in your property, you are normally entitled to a 25% reduction on your bill.
Dealing with bailiffs
If your council has passed the debt on to bailiffs then you may still be able to negotiate with the council. They may agree to stop the bailiffs’ action and accept a repayment plan. If they do, you will avoid having to pay bailiffs’ fees.
You may also be able to negotiate a repayment plan with the bailiffs themselves. However, bailiffs will normally want repayment over quite a short period. Private bailiffs can be very difficult to deal with and it is usually best not to let them into your home. They are not allowed to force entry unless you have let them in on a previous visit.
If you are having problems negotiating an affordable payment arrangement with your council or bailiffs, you could ask to see any Code of Practice or Recovery Policy with which they should comply.
Going to court
As a last resort, your council can ask the magistrates’ court to consider sending you to prison for non-payment. The court may decide instead to either
- set a rate of repayment;
- write off part or all of the debt, depending on your circumstances;
- adjourn; or
- make no order.
If you are required to attend a committal hearing we recommend you seek specialist advice.
If you need help dealing with council tax arrears or any other aspect of debt, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
What are my rights in a Hire Purchase or Conditional Sale Agreement?
A hire purchase or conditional sale agreement means that goods will be hired to you for an agreed period during which you pay instalments. You do not legally own the goods until you’ve paid the last instalment. During the hire purchase agreement the goods belong to the hirer so you must not sell the goods without getting their permission.
You do have a right to end the agreement early. You can do this by writing to the finance company stating clearly that you want to terminate the agreement. Send your letter by recorded delivery. If you end the agreement early, you must return the goods and you will then normally be liable to pay half the amount due under the agreement, less the payments you have already made.
If you do not keep up the payments , the hirer is only allowed to repossess the goods if:
- you have given your permission for this to happen;
- the hirer has obtained a court order; or
- you have paid less than a third of the total purchase price and the goods are stored on public land.
If you need help dealing with a hire purchase agreement or any other aspect of debt, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.
Problems getting credit?
There is actually no such thing as a “blacklist” of people that lenders will automatically refuse to lend to.
Most lenders use a combination of information held by the credit reference agencies and their own credit scoring system to decide whether credit should be offered.
Credit reference agencies hold a record of most credit agreements applied for or taken out. You can obtain a copy of your own credit reference file by applying to one of the three major agencies, which are Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. You will need to supply your name, address, date of birth and all previous addresses for the last six years. The credit reference agencies charge a small fee for this service.
If you have a credit default or county court judgment registered on your credit file, it will usually remain there for six years, after which it should be removed from your credit file automatically.
Credit scoring works by allotting points for certain criteria. For example you may get some points for being registered on the electoral roll. The more points you have been allotted, the more likely it is that the credit provider will lend to you. Different creditors have different scoring criteria, so you may be refused by some but accepted by others.
If you need help dealing with debt problems, we recommend to call NUCLEUS to arrange an appointment with one of our debt advisers on 020 7373 4005.