Homes No Longer Safe As Houses
18th May 2017
Homes No Longer Safe as Houses
The bricks that make up our communities are people, the mortar that holds those bricks together are families, and the bedrock that supports those bricks are homes. If the bedrock begins to crumble, then the mortar loosens and the bricks begin to fall.
This may sound like the opening lines to a children’s nursery rhyme, but it is in fact a fairly accurate description of what is happening to many families in the UK and their homes.
The UK housing charity, Shelter, have produced new statistics that show that one in three low-wage families, renting in the private sector, are now struggling to pay their rent, and are using credit cards, overdrafts and pay day loans to avoid arrears and being evicted.
In Scotland, other figures produced by Shelter, show that in Glasgow, nearly one homeless person is dying on the streets each week; and if that is not enough, the charity has also revealed that with the rent of working families now consuming so much of their household income, over 800,000 cannot afford to save £10 per month and even across the Scottish social housing sector, evictions have increased by 24% in the last two years.
What Shelter has done with these figures is draw back a veil that has been showing that although many UK families may be struggling, they are still getting by. But what constitutes getting by? If getting by means lunging from one month to another, whilst indebting yourself to lenders who want more of your money next month, that is not getting by. If getting by is being unable to build a cushion for yourself and your family for emergencies, that is not getting by.
Instead Shelter have shown a different picture. A grisly picture. One where the home is no longer a place of security, but a source of financial pressure, insecurity, and anxiety. A picture that shows that for some people, having a home is not achievable and the lack of one can pose a mortal danger to their lives.
The charity is now calling on the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security, and Equalities to develop a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland and across the rest of the UK, they are calling for the next Government to commit to building half a million affordable homes.
However, if you are in this position, if you are struggling with your rent, what can you do? There are some basic steps that you can take that will hold you in good stead.
What to do if you are facing the loss of your home
First, make sure you are not entitled to housing benefit or local housing allowance (where you have a private sector tenancy). Many people don’t realise, but these benefits can still be paid, even if you are working, as they are means tested on the level of your income.
Secondly, if you have been prioritising paying other bills over your rent arrears, stop. Keeping a roof over your head is always your number one priority, so don’t make payments to credit cards, loans, and other debts at the expense of your rent. There are other solutions that may help with these debts, such as Debt Management Plans, Individual Voluntary Arrangements, the Debt Arrangement Scheme, and Protected Trust Deeds. Our Advisers at Creditfix can help you with this.
Thirdly, if your landlord wants you out your property, they cannot simply come to your door and ask you to leave. This would be an illegal eviction and you can call the police.
In England and Wales, they need to serve you a proper notice of eviction, (known as section 21 or section 8 notice). In Scotland, they must serve you a notice to quit and a notice of intention to raise proceedings. But even when these notices are served on you, you don’t need to leave you home, unless you have somewhere else to go. Your landlord need to obtain a court order. It is, therefore, vital to ensure you get proper advice and ensure your landlord has followed the correct procedure and the notices they serve are correctly drafted.
Fourthly, even when you have rent arrears and it appears like your landlord is taking steps to remove you, it may still be possible to negotiate with them and come to an agreement. Often the landlord will not understand the circumstances that led to the arrears and will not want to incur the costs of raising an eviction action. They will then have the cost of re-letting the property and trying to recover the arrears from you. This is more likely to be the case where you have been a good tenant in other ways. Many landlords will be prepared to accept a repayment proposal that ensures the arrears don’t increase and gradually are reduced with regular payments.
At Creditfix we understand that your home is the bedrock of your family and will always work with you to ensure it remains safe.
If you want to speak to one of our advisers call 0808 253 3620 or text “ADVICE” to 60060