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Social landlord adopts 'last resort' eviction policy to help tenants hit by bedroom tax

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Social landlord adopts 'last resort' eviction policy to help tenants hit by bedroom tax

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Bill Payments, Local Government

Social landlord adopts 'last resort' eviction policy to help tenants hit by bedroom tax Social landlord adopts 'last resort' eviction policy to help tenants hit by bedroom tax

A social landlord has adopted a 'last resort' eviction policy to help support tenants hit by the government's welfare reforms.

Nottingham-based ALMO Newark and Sherwood Homes says household arrears have risen 9% in the space of a year since the bedroom tax was introduced in April 2013.

In response to the additional financial pressures it has launched a new 'Tenancy Sustainment and Eviction Prevention Protocol', which explain what the 5,500-home ALMO will do to help residents and makes it clear that proceedings to evict a tenant will only be taken as a last resort "once all other options have been exhausted".

Rebecca Rance, chief executive of Newark and Sherwood Homes, said: “Our approach through this new guidance is to support tenants to maintain a good tenancy and be happy in their homes and minimise the need to take court action. This should prevent tenants having to pay associated court costs and reduce the risk of them losing their home, wherever possible.

"The guidance shows how tenants will be expected to maintain a clear rent account and stick to an agreed payment plan to clear any rent arrears. It really is a win-win for both our tenants and our company, so we can keep court costs down and deliver the best possible value for all tenants.”

The new protocol is part of Newark and Sherwood Homes’ responsible approach to welfare reform, which also includes a number of initiatives plus a programme of staff training to ensure that employees have the skills to deliver a range of additional support to tenants to help them to sustain their tenancy.

In a bid to help tenants to pay their rent on time and have better control over their money, the ALMO is working closely with East Midlands Credit Union. This arrangement gives tenants a simpler way to manage their money and pay their rent through the credit union; tenants can also save and have access to low cost loans without having to pay high interest rates charged by some door step or high street lenders.

Rebecca Rance added: “There has undoubtedly been an impact on tenants who have been subject to the under occupation charge. Along with the council, we are working closely with tenants to manage the effects of welfare reform and provide continued assistance with money management, budgeting and debt advice.

"The new protocol sends out a clear message that tenancy debt will not be tolerated and that all the support that tenants need is available to help them to pay their rent.”

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