Social housing unites in Nottingham to oppose bedroom tax-linked evictions
50,000 North East families hit by ‘bedroom tax’
Nottingham’s largest social housing providers have agreed to take an anti-eviction policy against people who fall into rent arrears due to the bedroom tax.
A group of the city’s largest housing providers are working in partnership to help people struggling to pay their rent because of changes to the benefit system.
Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Homes, Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) and asra Housing Group have signed up to an ‘Eviction Prevention Protocol’ – meaning they will offer people affected by the bedroom tax every option to prevent evictions.
This includes requesting Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for every tenant suffering financial hardship that engages with tenancy sustainment teams. This special fund is in place to help people with their rent when their housing benefit doesn’t meet the whole value. The agreement also states that an eviction will not be authorised if customers are engaging with these teams or other debt advice agencies. Credit Union accounts which help tenants to prioritise rent and other bills are also offered to tenants facing court action.
In return affected tenants will be expected to set up and keep to an agreed affordable payment plan and will have the option to move with arrears if they have been approved as a priority on the city’s housing waiting list.
Matt Cooney, chief executive of asra Housing Group, said: “This protocol sets out very clearly our position, which is that we want to do everything possible to keep people in their tenancies. We all have tenancy sustainability specialists available who are on hand to help customers maximise their benefits, move into smaller homes and get debt advice.”
NCHA assistant director Peter Cowley said: “It is right that tenants are given support and advice before court action is taken which may result in them being evicted. When this protocol has been signed by all of the social landlords in Nottingham it will ensure that all of our tenants get the same support and advice.”
One Nottingham customer who is under-occupying by one bedroom is River Bhogal. She suffers from kidney failure and says she needs her extra bedroom for the large dialysis machine. Under the housing benefit changes she is not exempt from the bedroom tax.
River said: “I need the extra bedroom for the dialysis machine because I have to keep it in a clean room to prevent infection. It’s a huge thing and I can’t move it. I am struggling to pay my rent and being in this situation, where I might have to move out of my home, is very stressful."
READ NEXT »