Housing association rent arrears question

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
Looking for some advice please.

My elderly Aunt has rented a flat from a housing association since 1974, she initially paid rent weekly in advance and sometime in the 80’s she switched to paying monthly.

So far, all good.

In January this year she received by letter the rent would increase in April like is has done every year so the HA advise to change the standing order to reflect the increase and it can be paid weekly or monthly. This years rate is £663, an increase of £20 odd a month

My Aunt decides to change to paying weekly so sets up a new standing order to commence from the date from when the last month was paid so on 13 March she paid £643 and on April 13 she paid £165.

On Friday she receives a terse letter from the HA saying the rent is in arrears by over £700 which almost gave my aunt a heart attack.

I looked at the statement the HA sent with the letter. Because they had not received the usual £643 they claim she was a month behind and also added that she had always been paying monthly rent in arrears.

I checked her original tenancy agreement from 1974 of which she had a paper copy, it was clear that to move in rent was always paid in advance and she was always under the impression she had paid in advance.


What I want to know is who’s responsible for confirming the accuracy of what the HA say is owed? My understanding would be the HA would have to prove via factual documents of charges and payment received that what they claim in that rent has been paid in arrears is correct and she is behind.

I have not heard of a landlord who allows a renter to live a month and then pay, I always thought you pay in advance.

I asked her neighbour yesterday who also moved in the same day 1974 and she advised she has always paid in advance and several years ago they tried the same with her, claiming she was in arrears when she switched from monthly to weekly payments.

I have spoken with the HA before on her behalf about separate incidents and due to high staff turnover and lack of care they have proven to have mediocre processes so this rent issue has annoyed me but I’m not surprised and I know for a fact they do not have the original tenancy agreement, they lost decades of paperwork during a office move several years ago due to incompetence.

I am going to call them Monday to discuss this, is there any advice someone can give me on how to help handle this in regards to where the onus lies on exactly who needs to provide what in regards to what they say is owed is accurate?

Thanks
 

Maxatoria

Active Member
You need to find out exactly when the rent is due, ours is due at midday on a Monday as she could be a victim of bad timing.

Not having a copy of a contract would put them also in difficult waters as how do they prove that they are right without anything in black and white.
 

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
You need to find out exactly when the rent is due, ours is due at midday on a Monday as she could be a victim of bad timing.

Not having a copy of a contract would put them also in difficult waters as how do they prove that they are right without anything in black and white.
Looking at the statements, it seems to be a rolling week process eg week 49 ,50 which falls on 3rd, 10th and so on.

It's only been a couple of years they have been sending statements with the breakdown so will go through those but from that I saw they billed every week which was cleared by the monthly payment.

Somewhere in the last 47 years there has been an anomaly where they say she went from paying in advance to now being a paying month in arrears. I don't know how this could happen without them flagging it when it happened. For someone to miss a months rent would surely be noticed? My Aunt does not have bank records going back to 74, I doubt anyone has so I don't know how either side can be proven as to what's been paid against charged.
 

Maxatoria

Active Member
There's probably the problem of that billing dates and payment dates now don't match and the computer just throws a wobbly.
 

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
There's probably the problem of that billing dates and payment dates now don't match and the computer just throws a wobbly.
This is what I think, There are statements from 97 showing rent and payments and the account was in credit so it proves rent was paid in advance. Then they stopped sending them and recommenced a year or so ago showing its in arrears.

When I speak to them Monday I am going to say they need to provide statements since 97 when the account was in credit to show which month and year it fell behind. I spoke to their finance manager a few months ago about a simple separate service charge and to say he was dense was an insult to dense people. Get the feeling this is going to get messy.
 

ssbib

Distinguished Member
The HA should have a rents or income management team. Just give them a call and they’ll work it out. No system is perfect and it’s likely just a mistake. If she hasn’t informed them about the change of payment then they’re probably still working on the old agreement and they’ll need to just make some changes to her rent account. Good luck to you though but I’m sure it will be fine.
 

nvingo

Distinguished Member
Jeez aftet 47 years you'd think they'd sign it over to her.
(Sorry, not helpful)
 

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
Jeez aftet 47 years you'd think they'd sign it over to her.
(Sorry, not helpful)
Sadly they would never do that, or offer the option to buy. They are a very greedy money centric organisation. Going through the statements since 97 I saw among other things they have been charging a monthly service charge (currently £22 a month) for window cleaning and communal garden maintenance despite the fact the last time anyone apart from herself cleaned the windows was in 1986 and they have never since 1974 done a single days work on anything related to the garden. Resident welfare is not their first priority.
 

nvingo

Distinguished Member
So, approximately £6000 at today's value just from her, presumably similar from each household; they must have big renovation plans afoot. Maybe every time they notice the windows are dirty, they replace them with newer energy-friendly glazing :confused:

I guess as part of your investigation into rent payments you'll request a breakdown of how the service charge funds have benefited the tenants?
 

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
So, approximately £6000 at today's value just from her, presumably similar from each household; they must have big renovation plans afoot. Maybe every time they notice the windows are dirty, they replace them with newer energy-friendly glazing :confused:

I guess as part of your investigation into rent payments you'll request a breakdown of how the service charge funds have benefited the tenants?
They have approx 300 properties across three sites and are always trying to invest in more, the service charge applies to everyone, I can't speak for the any work on other sites but know for a fact the window cleaning and garden maintenance does not happen at the site my Aunt resides and hasn't since the 80s and that was only window cleaning. I asked them about this and the CEO could not give an answer so I wrote to the Office of fair rent a month ago as part of their yearly review why tenants are being charged these amounts. Still awaiting a reply.

They also charge monthly for the intercom, TV Ariel (everyones using Virgin media) and ground staff support (one caretaker who you may use once a year for a backed up toilet or such if needed).

Renovations are sporadic, the windows have been replaced once in 47 years. They have made token upgrades to bathrooms and kitchens I think every 5 years but the work done was cosmetic, it's the residents who usually pay out of their own pockets for any meaningful upgrades with the exception of residents with disabilities, the HA have been good with updating accessible bathrooms etc.
 

nvingo

Distinguished Member
Sounds like a licence to print money. CEO wants a swimming pool in his backyard? Lets charge the 300 tenants £x per month for...well nothing.
 

Mosconebailbond

Well-known Member
Sounds like a licence to print money. CEO wants a swimming pool in his backyard? Lets charge the 300 tenants £x per month for...well nothing.
Looking at her paperwork was certainly an eye opener. Charging for monthly work that is not done is wrong and has to be challenged.
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
They also charge monthly for the intercom, TV Ariel (everyones using Virgin media) and ground staff support (one caretaker who you may use once a year for a backed up toilet or such if needed).

These things vary on the exact overall arrangement. So our block has 12 maisonettes that have front doors to the street and not on the intercom. 12 split level flats on the top two floors. All of these were sold privately on a leasehold basis. Between these was one floor of 15 flats that were to be sold to a HA.

All 39 units pay an equal share to the lift, intercom, cleaning of the common areas etc none of which we have use of. Similarly for the 9 months that it free for distribution equipment to be upgraded to SkyQ they kept saying they'd look into it... two months after it finished then suddenly they state they'll be doing it for some silly price.

In part this is just the joys of dealing with leasehold, some have suggested that ours are split evenly to reduce the cost for the HA residents... the block opposite did the pay the council a bung rather than have affordable properties. For them the services you get drives your service charge so those on above floor 2 have use of the lifts but pay an extra £1,500 a year in service as a consequence.

Always should challenge of services being paid for that you don't receive but moderately inflated prices etc are just deemed as par for the course.
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
I didn't know that, but you could get a solicitor interested if there was a hint of a big payout.
We have Group Litigation Orders instead which have some similarities but no ability to include unnamed class members etc.

Normally solicitor fees cannot be included in any claim under £10k (exc injuries), limited fees are available in Fast track claims (up to £25k) and fees become fully considerable only over £25k. Fast track you'll get factory solicitors interested because most the works done by paralegals so the numbers stack up.

Have to admit I don't know enough on how GLO work with allowable fees as it comes under special rules and my court days were based on motor accidents so no GLO type claims
 

dmpzsn

Distinguished Member
I'll bow to your better knowledge as I have no knowledge of civilian law, a bit more about criminal and traffic law but very out of date.

I wonder how the ones suing car makers work as there's on against VW at the moment re their electric car.

If this could be found out then @Mosconebailbond could try that. It may wake the HS up if nothing else.
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
I'll bow to your better knowledge as I have no knowledge of civilian law, a bit more about criminal and traffic law but very out of date.

I wonder how the ones suing car makers work as there's on against VW at the moment re their electric car.
Have a look at Do class actions exist in the United Kingdom? Not really! Should they? - Edmonds Marshall McMahon

The emissions lawsuit against VW is an example of GLO but where as in the USA every person who owns a VW Group vehicle from the offending years is basically included automatically as unnamed class members in the UK its only those that actively chose to be included.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Asking for proof of how the account fell into arrears seems entirely reasonable as a first step. As others have said, it may be simply that they changed the due date without telling anyone. So it could be that she's been in arrears for a day or two waiting for her payment to hit the account. But as they are the ones making the claim, the burden of proof is on them.

It wouldn't do any harm to have a word with Shelter in the meantime, both about the alleged arrears & the service charge.

 

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