The Housing Executive is running a ‘Rent First’ week starting on Monday, February 27.
Elizabeth Martin, North East Area Accounts Unit Manager explained: “In the current financial climate more people are finding it difficult to make ends meet. It is important however, for tenants to pay their rent first, if they don’t, they may be at risk of losing their home.
“We are running ‘Rent First’ week to encourage tenants to contact us so that we can help them make arrangements to pay their rent and offer money advice.
“We are committed to providing every opportunity to help tenants who are experiencing difficulty paying their rent. We would appeal to them not to ignore the problem, but to contact us as soon as possible.
“During Rent First week, tenants who are in arrears with their rent account and who have not made a suitable agreement may be contacted by our staff to help them make arrangements for repayment of the debt and to offer money advice.
“In addition, staff from our Accounts and Housing Benefit Units will be on hand on Thursday, March 1 in Abbeycentre, Newtownabbey, with money advice and information and I hope shoppers will take time to call with us there.”
Elizabeth Martin continued: “Members of staff in our local Accounts Office in Ballymena provide confidential help and advice to any tenant who is having difficulty paying their rent. But it is important that they contact us at the earliest possible stage so that an affordable agreement can be made to repay the arrears. The earlier we are contacted the easier it is to tackle the problems.
“Our staff are specifically trained to assist tenants who are in arrears and can help by:
• Explaining the various methods by which rent and arrears may be paid;
• Agreeing an installment plan to repay arrears;
• Giving information on Housing Benefit, Rates Relief and other benefits that they may be entitled to;
• Arranging for payments to be taken from certain benefits or from your salary, with your employer’s approval; and
• Referring to Citizens Advice Bureau or other Advice Agencies for specialist money advice.”
For information and help, contact the Housing Executive at 03448 920900 or www.nihe.gov.uk/avoiding_debt