Speak to us now if you have worries over paying your rent
With the Government’s moratorium on evictions for rent arrears due to be lifted next month, Gravesham Borough Council is urging those struggling to pay their bills to seek help and advice now rather than leave it too late and possibly find themselves without a roof over their head.
As part of measures to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the Government put a temporary stop on private and social housing landlords evicting tenants who had fallen behind with rent payments.
That ends on 23 August, from which date courts will begin to reissue dates for when evictions booked pre-COVID lockdown can take place.
From 30 October courts will start to hear and make decisions on new eviction cases.
Cllr Jenny Wallace, Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing Services, said that with the economic impact of the Coronavirus crisis increasingly felt, it was important those struggling financially sought advice as soon as possible.
Cllr Wallace said: “As the Government’s furlough scheme begins to wind down, we have heard worrying announcements about job losses in recent weeks. What is clear is that a lot of people, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves in a financial position they have not been in before.
“I would say to everyone, if you are struggling to pay your bills, if your rent is overdue and you’re not sure where you are going to find the money to pay it, please do not ignore it in the hope the problem will go away – it won’t.
“There is no shame and nothing to be embarrassed about in asking for help and advice, and the sooner you do that the better.”
Cllr Wallace added that her message was not only for council tenants, but those in private rented accommodation too.
“Where council tenants have a genuine reason that they cannot pay we will listen to them and do our best to help them and get them the support they need, as will the vast majority of private landlords,” she said.
“The council owns a finite number of properties, so we are not saying, ‘Come to us and we will find you a home’, but we can help in a number of ways, for example, with repayment plans to bring your arrears down gradually if you are one of our tenants.
“But unless we know you have a problem we cannot support you. If you are worried about your ability to pay your rent, contact us today.”
However, Cllr Wallace had a warning for those who chose not to pay rents owed to the council.
She said: “We make a very real distinction between those who cannot pay, and those who will not pay.
“While we will do everything we can to advise and support those who can’t pay, those who won’t pay and ignore our attempts to contact them should be warned we will use all the powers available to us to reclaim the monies they owe, even if that has to happen after an eviction has taken place.
“There are many people working hard and making sacrifices to ensure they pay their rent every month. We would be failing in our duty to them if we did not take all necessary action to recover outstanding debts from those who have no wish to engage with us.”
Council tenants needing help and advice should call 01474 337358.
Private tenants should call 01474 337000 or visit www.gravesham.gov.uk/housing.