Under a Scottish secure tenancy, we have to set what we consider to be an affordable rent, which will meet our costs. We are committed to providing housing for those on low incomes and we aim to keep rents at levels which avoid those on low incomes depending on Housing Benefit. We estimate all of our running costs over the coming year and work out what we need to raise from rents to cover these. We review our rents in January and February each year with a view to putting any increases into practice on 1 April. We give you a full 28 days’ notice of any change in your rent.
In areas containing shared features such as landscaping or paving, stairs and closes to flats, TV aerials and door-entry systems, we maintain these facilities. To pay for this, we set service charges every year. You have to pay these with your rent, and give us the money we need to provide these services. We only charge you for the cost of providing these services and we review this every year.
In line with your tenancy agreement, you must make sure that you pay your rent so you have covered the four weeks to come. You can choose to pay your rent every week, every two weeks or every four weeks.
* Direct debit
* Standing order
* AllPay payment card
* In cash at any of our offices
* You should not send cash through the post
You can use AllPay cards to make payments at post offices, newsagents, grocery and other shopping outlets displaying a Payzone or PayPoint symbol. AllPay makes it more convenient if you want to pay in cash, by cheque or debit card.
Another great benefit of the AllPay payment card is you can now pay your rent online using the AllPay link here:
We will send you a statement of your rent account within 10 working days of the end of each rent quarter. As a result, we will post statements to you in April, July, October and January.
What is Housing Benefit? If you're on a low income, whether you're working or not, and need financial help to pay all or part of your rent, you may be able to get Housing Benefit. This is a national scheme which is run locally by both North and East Ayrshire councils.
You may get Housing Benefit if you pay rent and your income and capital (savings and investments) are below a certain level. You could qualify if you are out of work, or in work and earning a wage.
You can get claim forms from our offices and from North or East Ayrshire Council offices. You can also download an application form through Direct.gov.uk then, click on the Housing Benefit link.
The amount of Housing Benefit you get depends on the amount of money coming into your home, plus any savings you have. The number and ages of the people living in your house is also taken into account.
You can use the online benefits advisor tool at Direct.gov.uk to give you a guide to any entitlement by following the link and instructions above.
If the information you have given on your application form changes, you must tell your local council office immediately and you should also let us know. Changes such as an increase in your wages, or someone moving out of or into the home, may affect the amount of benefit you get. The council will send out review forms from time to time, and you must make sure you fill in and return these or your Housing Benefit may be cancelled.
You should also remember that if you do not tell the local authority about a change in circumstances, you may be overpaid Housing Benefit and the council will claim it back. If your benefit was paid direct to us, and the council has claimed it back, we will treat this as arrears and take action to recover this money from you.
We are taking part in an initiative with North and East Ayrshire councils known as the Verification Framework. This means that we can accept new Housing Benefit claims and changes in circumstances and check (verify) evidence supporting these claims. This means that the councils can process these claims more quickly.
Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It will be launched in 2013 and will replace
* income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
* income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
* Income Support;
* Child Tax Credit;
* Working Tax Credit; and
* Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit will also be paid direct to you and you will need to have arrangements in place to pay your rent from your benefit payment.
Not paying your rent is a serious matter and could lead to you losing your home. If you get behind with your rent, or think you might, you must contact us as soon as possible. This will help you and us to sort out problems quickly before arrears levels get too high. If you have difficulty in paying your rent, you should contact us immediately to arrange a repayment agreement. If you fail to stick to the repayment agreement or fully co-operate with us, we will instruct our solicitor to take court action. If this happens, you should get independent legal advice (there are a number of agencies operating locally). You can get details from any of our offices. We will not take legal action if you make and keep to an arrangement for paying what you owe us.
We have a responsibility to tell certain other members of your household if we plan taking legal action against you. This is so the court can consider your circumstances. This means that anyone who you have taken in as a lodger or sublet your house to is entitled to know about this action. The same applies to members of your family over the age of 16 who live with you. So, it is important that we know who lives in your home and, if we ask you to provide this information, you should make every effort to do so.
We work closely with welfare rights staff in North and East Ayrshire councils who aim to make sure that every tenant receives their full entitlement to benefits and can manage their money.
The welfare rights staff can:
* give you general advice and information on a wide range of benefits;
* check which benefits you should be receiving;
* help to fill in claim forms;
* mediate and negotiate on your behalf on repayment arrangements from rent or other debts;
* give you help and advice on fuel issues; and
* provide advice on money and budgeting.
If you are having any difficulties, there are contact details here:
Telephone: 01294 310456
North Ayrshire Council
Offices and phone lines are open:
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 4.45pm
Friday: 9am to 4.30pm
PO BOX 13
John Dickie Street
Telephone: 01563 554400
Or you can speak to your local housing officer who can refer you for help.
You are individually responsible for paying council tax, or any other charge made by the local authority. If you need information about council tax, you should contact your local authority on the numbers listed here: