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National Homeless Advice Service

Dealing with rent arrears and preventing eviction in social housing

Social landlords (registered providers) can consider different options when dealing with rent arrears and other challenges for young tenants which may lead to eviction.

Helping young people avoid and deal with rent arrears

Young people can be assisted to maintain their social tenancies through:

  • income maximisation - advisers can check their clients are in receipt of the correct benefits
  • applying for discretionary housing payments (DHPs)
  • accessing homelessness prevention funds.
See the page Dealing with rent arrears and preventing eviction in the section on the private rented sector and the Money matters section for more information.

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Steps before eviction

As part of a homelessness prevention strategy, and with the wider goal of helping young people sustain both their tenancies and their chance to make a success of living independently, registered housing providers can consider:

  • a holistic, problem-solving approach to young people’s anti-social behaviour
  • using good neighbour agreements to help young people understand their responsibilities
  • making use of mediation and support services to help young people deal with issues that are making it difficult to sustain tenancies
  • continuing to build on diversionary activities as a preventative measure
  • making use of acceptable behaviour contracts before considering legal action
  • other measures such as tenancy demotions and extensions of introductory tenancies before beginning eviction.
  • intervention by other agencies before taking enforcement action.

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Pre-action protocol - eviction as a last resort

Councils and housing associations should only use eviction for rent arrears as a last resort. Before a social landlord takes court action there are steps they must follow:

  • contacting you as soon as possible
  • helping you sort out benefit problems
  • agreeing an affordable repayment plan
  • not going to court as long as you stick an agreement.

These steps form a ‘pre-action protocol’. For more information, see Shelter’s Housing Advice: Council and housing association eviction rules.

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