Rent Collection. This guide explains our approach to rent collection, our promises to you and how you can pay online with my Bernicia

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Rent Collection

This guide explains our approach to rent collection, our promises to you and how you can pay online with my Bernicia

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This guide explains our approach to rent collection.

It is important that we are successful in collecting rents to meet our current and future business and financial commitments.

To do this, we will seek to maximise the collection of rent and service charges by ensuring that you receive the appropriate support and advice to enable you to deal with your financial affairs.

The leaflet will help you to get the help you need.

Our Promises To You

We will:

• Adopt a sympathetic but firm approach when dealing with you if you are experiencing difficulty in paying your rent, and display flexibility in dealing with you as an individual, whilst having regard to the overall rent collection procedure.

• Visit you if you are experiencing difficulty in paying rent at an early stage as we believe personal contact with you is an important part of the rent collection process

• Work with other agencies, including relevant local authorities to ensure that necessary support is given to you where available.

• Take action to repossess the property as the ultimate sanction against those in arrears. However, we will only consider this action when we are satisfied that all possible steps to avoid this have been taken.

• Continually publicise all the payment methods available and seek to implement new rent payment methods as they are developed.

• Send you a statement of your account on a regular basis or upon request.

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Paying your rent

online is so easy

at my Bernicia

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Relevant Service Information

Our rents are set following government guidelines for our

area of the country.

Rent and other charges are due weekly on a Monday and must be paid weekly. If you wish to pay every two weeks or once a month this must be agreed with us first and payments made in advance not in arrears.

We will record your payments on our computer system each time you pay but you should also keep a check on payments yourself, keep any receipts you are given, and check your bank or credit card statements etc.

You can check your rent account at anytime by visiting www.bernicia.com/ mybernicia

How To Pay Your Rent

We offer a variety of different ways to pay your rent:

• Payment by post

• Direct Debit

• Standing Order

• Payment online at www.bernicia.com/mybernicia • Payment online at www.allpay.net

• Payment at any pay zone or pay point outlet

• Payment by telephone using Allpay’s automated facility 0844 5578321

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What Your Rent Covers

Your tenancy agreement and rent statement identify

the amounts payable to us, which may be made up

of a number of different elements.

Rent

This is a charge made by us for the use and occupation of your home. When setting rents we take into account management and maintenance costs, loan charges and money put aside for future major repairs.

Service charges

If services, such as ground maintenance, servicing of lifts, lighting and cleaning of common areas are provided by us then a service charge will be payable in addition to the basic rent. The services provided will be identified in your tenancy agreement,

or we can provide you with a list of these if you ask.

We may increase or decrease the rent or service charge by giving at least one calendar month’s notice in writing of the change. The rent will not be increased more than once in a year.

Heating charge

In certain schemes, mainly retirement housing, we provide heating and hot water. If this is provided it will be identified in your tenancy agreement and rent statement.

Water charges

In some cases we collect these on behalf of the water authority. Many new properties have a water meter, in this situation the payment is made direct to the water authority. The amount paid for water and sewage is the actual amount we are charged by the water authority.

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What We Will Do If You Don’t Pay

You are breaking the conditions of your Tenancy Agreement

if you pay your rent late.

If we do not receive rent payments we will take a sympathetic but firm approach.

We will try to be flexible when making agreements for payment and treat you individually.

We believe that personal contact is an important part of the process and will visit you if you appear to be experiencing difficulty in paying rent at an early stage to make an agreement for rent and arrears payments. If we feel advice from other agencies would be helpful we will suggest this and help you get this advice. We have a computerised system of rent accounting and accounts are updated on a weekly basis. Rent accounts are checked regularly to promptly identify signs of a potential problem. This is because we believe the earlier the problem is identified the easier it is to manage and reduce the risk of increasing debts. We will only make agreements for the repayment of rent arrears which are reasonable and manageable.

If you fail to keep to the agreement we will try to contact you to improve the situation and avoid the need for more serious action. We may send you letters, visit you, phone you or text you when we try to contact you.

If you persistently fail to contact our staff or keep to an agreement and your rent arrears are not reducing, then a Notice of Seeking Possession may be served.

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Who You Should Talk To If You Need Help

If you are experiencing any difficulties in paying your rent please call Bernica on: 0344 800 3800 and we can help you with this.

Our staff will provide advice and assistance in the strictest confidence. We can arrange for a Housing Officer to come to your home to offer advice and support to help you through any difficulties.

A Notice of Seeking Possession means...

that if the rent arrears situation has not improved within 4 weeks of serving the Notice, we may apply to the County Court. In most cases we would seek a

Suspended Possession Order. This means we will ask the Judge for an Order for payment of the rent plus an agreed amount to reduce the arrears. So long as this is paid we would not seek to repossess your home.

If this agreement is not kept then we may apply again to the court for a warrant of execution. With this we could repossess your home. We will take all reasonable steps to avoid having to repossess a property.

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Everyone asks

Can I get any help to pay my rent?

You may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit which is a payment awarded by the Local Authority to assist you with housing costs. If you receive Housing Benefit this will be reviewed on a regular basis. You must complete and return any forms the council send you promptly, along with documents they ask for. If you do not you may delay or lose Housing Benefit payments and you will have to pay the full rent yourself.

It is your responsibility to claim Housing Benefit to help with your housing costs. If you think you may be entitled to Housing Benefit but you are not sure how to make a claim

Call Bernica on:

0344 800 3800

and we can help you with this.

If your circumstances change, you must tell the Housing Benefit department immediately otherwise you could face a large bill for benefit overpayment and also go into arrears on your rent account.

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What if Housing Benefit does not cover my rent?

If your benefit is less than the total rent you will need to pay the difference to us in the ways mentioned previously. This would be, for example, if your income meant you received a ‘lower’ amount of Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit does not cover water rates if we collect them on behalf of the water authority and certain service charges such as in our sheltered accommodation.

If you are not sure if your Housing Benefit covers all your rent please contact us on 0344 800 3800 and we can help you with this.

What is Council Tax?

Your local authority will charge you Council Tax for services provided by them. They will tell you how and when to pay. If you are on a low income or in receipt of state benefit you may be able to get help with paying your Council Tax. You should contact your local council for details.

I am a joint tenant, am I responsible for paying the rent?

Yes, in a joint tenancy each tenant is responsible for making sure that we receive the rent on time. If payments are not received we will take action against both tenants.

I think arrears shown on my account are wrong, what can I do?

Please contact us as soon as possible. We will check the account and give you a copy of our records. If there is a mistake, we will put it right, if it is correct, we will explain the situation.

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The list includes specialist debt advice agencies which are reputable and free national debt advice agencies, they are not debt consolidation companies which charge a fee for administering a debt by taking regular payments to distribute to creditors.

Bernicia works with partners across a number of local authority areas so please

check which are relevant to the area in which you live.

Directory Of Local Services

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

Can provide free independent advice on debt and welfare benefits. Welfare Rights Service can provide

Useful Contacts

Directory Of National Services

Debt Advice Agencies

StepChange Free debt advice

Freephone 0800 138 1111

Web: www.stepchange.org

National Debtline

Tel: 0808 808 4000

Benefit Entitlement Calculator

A Comprehensive Welfare Benefits Entitlement and “Better Off” calculator can be found at

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Newcastle

Newcastle Welfare Rights

Services

Newbiggin Hall Branch

Tel: 0191 277 2633 Walker Branch

Tel: 0191 278 8477

North Tyneside

Citizens Advice Bureau

North Shields Advice Line

Tel: 0844 4991 198

Gateshead

Gateshead Council Debt

Advice Team

Tel: 0191 433 3994

Tel: 0191 433 2642

Email: housingadvice@gateshead.gov.uk

Sunderland

Welfare Rights Service

Tel: 0191 520 5551

Email: welfare.rights@sunderland.gov.uk

South Tyneside

Citizens Advice Bureau

Tel: 0844 4994 715

South Tyneside Welfare

Rights Service

Tel: 0191 456 6296

Durham

Citizens Advice Bureau

Chester-le-Street

Tel: 0191 389 3000 Durham City

Tel: 0191 384 2885(Appointments) Tel: 0191 375 1050 (Debt advice line)

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Northumberland

Citizens Advice Bureau

West Northumberland Tel: 01434 605 254

Email: tynedalecab@cabnet.org.uk

Castle Morpeth Tel: 01670 518814

Email: morpeth.admin@cabnet.org.uk

Wansbeck

Tel: 01670 522008

Email: CAB@wansbeck80.fsnet.co.uk

Alnwick and District

Tel: 01665 604 135 (Advice Line)

Tel: 01665 604 714 (Appointment

Line)

Debt Advice Within Northumberland (DAWN)

Tel: 0845 345 4345

Credit Union

A credit union is a financial co-operative which offers safe savings accounts and low cost loans to members. For more information and to find details of all the credit unions in your local area, visit the website.

Tel: 0191 279 4881

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We believe personal

contact with you is an

important part of the

rent collection process

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Information provided by the Bernicia Group: Bernicia Group Limited is a Registered Society in England and Wales under the Co-operative and Community Benefit

Bernicia Group Ltd

Oakwood Way

Ashwood Business Park Ashington

Northumberland NE63 0XF

www.bernicia.com

T: 0344 800 3800

F: 01670 819844

E: info@bernicia.com

All our publications can be made available on request in large print, braille, or audio and in other languages.

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