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Counting the cost of Christmas

View profile for Joanne Ellis
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St Helens Country Court to remain open

Figures released last week by the TUC found debt per household to be the highest ever. The average has risen a staggering £600 since the third quarter of 2014 a year ago to a massive average debt of £11,800 per household. The figure excludes secured debt, so mortgages are not included in this figure.

In the housing team we always see a peak of tenants in trouble at this time of year as families struggle to prioritise debts, keep their children warm and adequately fed, and provide some sort of Christmas.

Tenants who find themselves in rent arrears for the first time may receive a notice from their landlord, the first stage a landlord takes before they go to court. Others have already found themselves in possession proceedings and the most desperate have a bailiff’s notice of eviction.

At any stage it is important to seek urgent legal advice. Early conversations with your landlord can make the difference between staying in your home or not. Advice is needed to ensure the affordability of any proposals, and also on what the courts will expect to see. In some situations the court will look for a minimal weekly payment, in other cases the court will need to see much more to be persuaded to leave a tenant in their property.

Until the bailiffs have entered into a property it is not too late. We daily deal with a number of cases when the bailiffs’ appointment is that day or the immediate future with a high success rate. Sometimes under certain circumstances a case like this can be adjourned, even without any payment of rent, the need for specialised legal advice couldn’t be clearer.

In a worst case scenario assistance is available for the minefield of presenting as homeless to a Local Authority and obtaining alternative accommodation.

Can’t afford help? Legal Aid is still available for housing issues. We can check if it’s available for you if you contact the office.

If you need any housing advice please contact our specialist housing law team on 0175 321 6399.