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National Homeless Advice Service

Consultancy & Casework

Consultancy line

The housing consultancy line is free to all NHAS members and our team of experienced housing specialists are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

Webchat

You can also chat to one of our advisers using our online webchat service. To start a chat with us click on the purple ‘Chat with us’ button at the top of the webpage. If the button says ‘Email us’ it means our advisers are currently busy, but you can send us an email and we will get back to you as soon as an agent is available.

A recent example of a typical webchat enquiry is from a member that wanted to find out how their client could get her joint assured housing association tenancy solely into her name following domestic violence from her former partner (the other joint tenant). The client had been told by her housing association that the only option would be for her to get the tenancy transferred through the courts.
Our adviser made sure that they had a full understanding of the situation before advising in detail about the options available e.g. assignment of the tenancy, check the housing associations allocations policy to see if they could grant her a new sole tenancy etc. Our adviser also made it clear to the member that the tenancy is in a precarious position currently as the clients’ former partner could serve a notice to quit to end the tenancy for all parties. This meant that our member could go through the options with her client and rule them out accordingly, plus seek family law advice if necessary.

Feedback: Very detailed and explicit advice. Truly professional in obtaining relevant information.

Whether you contact us through the consultancy line or webchat service, we’ll support you to explore all practical options open to your client, and we will send you a confirmation of the advice we provide.

Please note:

All NHAS Consultancy Line cases are kept anonymous and will only be identified by a combination of the Agency reference number and the client’s date of birth/postcode. In order to maintain the anonymity of the cases, it is important to ensure that any documents you share with the Consultancy Line have the client’s details removed.

Housing Debt Advice & Casework

We also have a specialist housing debt and welfare benefits advice service for local authorities, bureaux and member advice agencies to help clients struggling to pay their housing costs.

We can support you to work through your client’s housing debt case, or you can refer the case to us and we will work directly with the household (with their agreement).

Example of arrears & negotiation casework:

What we established about the client’s case:

Mr & Mrs T have two children and live in a jointly owned property. They have first and second charges on the property with different lenders. The monthly contractual payments on the first charge are £588. When Mr T returned to work, they started to pay their contractual monthly payments to both the first and second charge holders. Mr & Mrs T tried to reach an agreement with their first charge lender concerning repayment of the arrears but the lenders did not seem willing to negotiate.

  • Mr T works full-time, although he did have a period off work due to health issues. Mrs T is a student, who also works part-time.
  • Mr T had time off with stress and depression due to the pressures of work.
  • £2,900 arrears on the first charge and £1,500 on the second charge.


First charge lenders wrote to Mr & Mrs T to inform them that they were considering possession proceedings, unless they paid £680 per month. Mr & Mrs T could not afford this amount. First charge lenders were also charging interest and admin charges on the arrears. Second charge lender was happy with the amount being paid by Mr & Mrs T.


What we did:

  • Reviewed income (including benefit entitlement) and expenditure.
  • Worked with Mr & Mrs T to produce a financial statement. The financial statement showed that Mr & Mrs T could afford to pay a maximum of £620 towards their first charge monthly payments and arrears and their second charge contractual monthly payments plus a small amount towards the arrears.
  • Options appraisal: Following consideration of Mr & Mrs T’s financial circumstances, we advised them that they could ask their first charge lender to capitalise their arrears. We advised that this would increase their overall outstanding mortgage and would result in higher monthly mortgage payments of £611. We also advised that it would remove the threat of possession proceedings.
  • We also advised Mr & Mrs T that their first charge lender could be asked to freeze all interest and charges on the arrears, while the request for capitalisation of the arrears was being considered.
  • We contacted the first charge lender and provided them with a copy of Mr & Mrs T’s financial statement and proposed that they capitalise the arrears and freeze interest and admin charges on the arrears.

Following a number of phone calls and follow up emails and discussions with a senior member of staff, the first charge lender agreed to capitalise Mr & Mrs T’s £2,900 arrears and freeze interest and admin charges on the arrears, while the request was being processed. They also confirmed that they would not be seeking possession, as long as Mr & Mrs T maintained their payments of £611 per month.

Our Services

We deal with any housing related query, but detailed below are the most frequent:

  • Homelessness applications and prevention
  • Possession proceedings
  • Housing in relation to persons from abroad
  • Landlord and tenant issues
  • Rent and mortgage arrears
  • Security of tenure
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Disrepair