Click a question to see the answer.
I'm behind with the rent. What can I do?
If you are behind with your rent do not ignore the situation. If you don't take action to deal with the arrears quickly, you could lose your home and have problems finding somewhere else to live. You might not be able to rely on the local authority to rehouse you because they might consider you to have made yourself intentionally homeless. You might find it hard to get credit or borrow money in the future.
You will need to contact your landlord as soon as possible to try and make arrangements to pay back what you owe. However before you contact your landlord, you should check that the amount you're being asked to pay back is right. Citizens Advice has produced an online checklist entitled things to check when you have rent arrears providing information which will help you to check that you are the only person responsible for paying back the arrears and that the amount of the arrears is correct.
You should also check that you're getting all the income you can, including any help towards your rent or other benefits you may be entitled to. To see what benefits you qualify for, use a Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement. If you're not claiming a benefit which you're entitled to, you may be able to get backdated or interim payments which could help with your rent arrears.
Citizens Advice have produced an online guide which provides further information about Housing Benefit.
Even if you're not entitled to Housing Benefit, there may be other financial help you can get which you can put towards paying your rent. For example, you may be able to get Working Tax Credit if you work or Child Tax Credit if you have children. There may be a grant you can apply for. For more information about Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit see the Citizens Advice online guide entitled Benefits and Tax Credits for People in Work.
Citizens Advice has online information detailing ways you can help to pay off the rent arrears such as asking for adult children living at the property for a contribution, third party deductions from benefits, repayment plans, advice on how to work out a realistic budget and the options available to you if your landlord refuses to accept the repayment plan or you are unable to meet it.
I have nowhere to live - I'm sleeping at a friends house. What help can I get?
Local authorities have a legal duty to give help and advice to most people who are homeless, but they do not have to provide accommodation for everyone.
If you have just arrived in the UK or you have just returned after living aboard, you may not be eligible for homelessness assistance. Housing Rights Information provides guidance about entitlement to housing based on people's immigration status.
The local authority will check that you are actually homeless or about to become homeless within 28 days. If you have a home somewhere else where you could reasonably live you will not be treated as homeless.
The local authority will also have to decide whether you have a priority need for housing because of some special circumstances and that you have not lost you home because of something that you deliberately did or failed to do. For example, if you were evicted from your home because of anti-social behaviour you could be classed as intentionally homeless.
The National Homelessness Advice Service has a number of useful factsheets for the public about what a local authority will look at if you apply for housing as homeless.
Citizens Advice has produced an online guide of information about how you can go about finding accommodation including information about housing associations and rent to buy schemes.
Homeless UK has information about services for homeless people, including hostels, day centres and other advice and support services.
The heating doesn't work, and my landlord isnt doing anything. Have I any rights?
Your Landlord is subject to an implied term which has been imposed by law. An implied term is a term that can be read into a tenancy agreement even though it hasn’t been stated.
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act your landlord is under an obligation to keep in repair amongst other things the water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
These repair responsibilities cannot be cancelled out by anything your tenancy agreement says and your landlord cannot pass on the cost of any repair works to you which are their responsibility.
There is however a number of limited exceptions where the provisions of Section 11 do not apply.
Your landlord's obligations under Section 11 don't arise until they know about the disrepair. Citizens Advice has produced an online guide about repairs in rented housing containing information about when the obligation under Section 11 arises and what your options are should the landlord fail to action.
If you landlord doesn't do anything about the repairs you've reported you may be able to do something about it. Before taking any action you need to be aware that some private landlords may evict a tenant rather than do the repair work. If you have a good relationship with your landlord then you may not need to worry about this.
Citizens Advice has produced an online guide containing information on your options if you are a private rented tenant depending on which type of tenancy agreement you have.
If you rent your home from a social landlord they are responsible for dealing with most repair problems. Many social landlords fix repair problems as soon as they become aware of them, but this does not always happen. Citizens Advice have produced an online guide of information looking at who social housing landlords are and what standards they have to meet. It also lists the options open to you if your landlord doesn’t deal with disrepair.
If your landlord does not carry out regular inspections of gas appliances or if they refuse to give you a copy of the inspection record, you could contact the Health and Safety Executive which has a duty to enforce the safety requirements. See common problems with renting for contact details.
Shelter has produced a useful booklet entitled Getting Repairs Done which gives information about the rights you have if you rent your home, outlines the landlord's responsibilities and explains what you can do if you're having trouble getting them to carry out the work that's needed.
We are being evicted. What happens next?
If you are in mortgage arrears and are unable to clear them, your lender will try to get you evicted from your home. This is called taking possession. It allows them to sell your property and use the money from the sale to help pay off the debt. Your lender must go through the courts before they can take possession of your property. This is called taking possession action.
Your mortgage lender should not start possession action against you without giving you a reasonable chance to make arrangements to pay off the arrears, if you are able to. Citizens Advice have produced an online guide entitled what happens when your mortgage lender takes you to court containing useful information about what your mortgage lender must do before they start possession action, what happens when they commence action in the court, what happens when the court grants a suspended possession order and what happens when the court makes an outright possession order.
Citizens Advice has also produced an online guide covering eviction for mortgage arrears setting out what happens after the court hearing and during the eviction.
Please note that if your mortgage lender has been granted a possession order, you will still be responsible for the mortgage payments until the property is sold. This is regardless of whether you are still living there. You will also be responsible for the cost of repairs, maintenance and insurance. You should check your insurance policy to see whether it is still valid if you're not living there. However, your lender may insure the property themselves and pass the costs on to you.
Your lender has a duty of care towards you when selling your property. This means that they must get the best price that they can for it. However, in practice, lenders often sell properties at auction, and repossessed properties sold in this way often sell for less than they would on the open market. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your lender, for example, because they took a long time to sell your property and your arrears went up because of this, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If you have rent arrears, your landlord will probably try and evict you. This is called seeking possession.
If they want to seek possession, most landlords must follow a certain procedure. This involves giving you a written notice.
Getting a notice doesn't always mean you will have to leave your home. In most cases your landlord still has to get a court order before they can evict you and they can't apply for a court order until the notice period has run out. The court order is called a possession order.
If you don't leave by the date on the possession order, they will need to get a warrant of possession, allowing the bailiffs to come and evict you.
However, there are some types of tenancy where your landlord doesn’t need to get a court order to evict you. These include tenants who live in the same accommodation as their landlord.
Citizens Advice have produced a number of online guides to help you:
- You are taken to court for rent arrears covers what happens before your landlord has got a possession order;
- Eviction for rent arrears covers what happens once your landlord has got a possession order to evict you and whether there's anything you can do to stop the eviction going ahead;
- Assured shorthold tenancies and rent arrears covers what to do if you're the tenant of a private landlord and you have rent arrears.
My neighbour's tree hangs over my garden. Can I cut it back?
If your neighbour's tree overhangs your garden you can ask them to trim back the offending tree. If it seems that one or both parties will be unable to keep their temper during such a meeting, it may be advisable to write. If this is not done you then have the right to trim the tree back to the boundary line.
However, any branches and/or fruit removed belong to the tree's owner and should be offered back to the owner or disposed of with the owner's consent.
You are unlikely to recover the cost of pruning the tree from the tree's owner, or transporting the branches back to the owner.
Before commencing any work you will need to establish whether or not the tree is subject to a Tree Preservation. For further guidance and information on whether or not a tree is subject to a tree preservation order contact Hart District Council. If there is a preservation order, you should obtain formal consent from the local authority before pruning the tree otherwise you are liable to a hefty fine and or imprisonment. All trees in an area designated as a Conservation Area are automatically protected.
An overhanging tree may also be a danger. For example, most parts of yew trees are poisonous. If any damage or injury is caused, the tree owner will be liable to pay compensation if a person affected brings a claim for damages. Citizens Advice has produced an online guide about neighbour disputes containing information about the powers local authority have to deal with trees on private property and how to deal with neighbour disagreements generally.
If you really can't get on with your neighbour, you may think that your only course of action is to move. If you own your home and you move because of neighbour problems, you must not mislead prospective buyers about the problems that you've had. A seller has to fill out a form containing standard questions when selling their home. These questions include one about disputes. A buyer can sue a seller who doesn't disclose a dispute, such as a neighbour dispute. Remember therefore that where possible try to resolve the issue amicably.
My neighbour is very noisy and I can't sleep. Is there any help?
If you are experiencing problems with your neighbour you can take steps yourself or you can contact a range of organisations that can help you.
Noise can constitute anti-social behaviour if it causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. To be anti-social behaviour, the behaviour must be persistent.
If you want to take action about anti-social behaviour you should first try and establish who is responsible for the behaviour. It is also important to establish whether the behaviour is deliberate or unintentional.
What you do will depend on the type of behaviour you are complaining about and on the result you want. Citizens Advice has produced an online guide about anti-social behaviour in housing containing information on the actions you can take including seeking mediation, contacting the tenants association where you live, starting criminal proceedings and taking civil court action.
If you live in rented accommodation you can approach your landlord and ask that they take action. If your landlord is a local authority or housing association landlord it is worth requesting a copy of their policy and procedures for dealing with anti-social behaviour. Please note however that landlords can choose whether or not to take action but they do not have to do so. Refer to the online guide about anti-social behaviour in housing for information on the actions your Landlord could take.
As a person who is suffering anti-social behaviour you can ask the local authority to deal with it, regardless of whether you are a local authority tenant or not. The police or your local community support officers may also be able to assist although please remember that the police do have a discretion as to whether or not to prosecute someone. Refer to the online guide from Citizens Advice to see what the police can do.
You can find more information about anti-social behaviour in housing in a leaflet by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) called Tackling anti-social behaviour.
If you haven't found the answer to your question or the information you are looking for, you can:
Contact Hart Citizens Advice for help
Find another organisation who can help
Alternatively, you can search our online directories to find an organisation that may be able to help you.