Social housing provider, Knowsley Housing Trust (‘KHT’) has axed the face to face services it previously offered at One Stop shops across the borough.
From 01 April 2016, the services which were located in the Knowsley Council’s offices in Halewood, Huyton, Kirkby and Prescot are no longer available. Historically, tenants of KHT were able to speak to an advisor to make rent payments, report repairs and antisocial behaviour and get general advice about their tenancies by popping into their local One Stop shop. This will no longer be an option for them. This is particularly likely to have a big impact on tenants who already struggle to manage their tenancies unaided, due to mental health issues. Changing the way that services can be accessed may actually put a communication barrier in place for tenants with such issues, who are not necessarily familiar or able to use online services or who struggle to navigate call routing systems.
A director for the company which owns KHT has said that the counters have closed because tenants were using the face to face facility less and less. KHT has said that this is not a cost cutting measure. Tenants have been told that they should contact KHT by phone or online going forwards. Tenants can make enquiries over the phone on 0151 290 7000, with the line open 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 9.30am-1pm on Saturday mornings.
KHT has confirmed that tenants can still make payments towards their rent by cash, card or cheque via the payment machines in all of Knowsley Council’s One Stop Shops. The front desk at KHT’s Page Moss office on Princess Drive will remain open for enquiries.
It is very important that tenants who have previously paid their rent by speaking to an advisor at a One Stop shop continue to make their payments going forwards by either using the payment machines, which are still available in those centres, by using the telephone facility or by going online. If tenants fail to make the correct payments or any payments at all to their ;andlord and rent arrears build up on their accounts, they may receive a Notice Seeking Possession from their landlord threatening their eviction from their property. Once that notice expires and provided that the tenant is still in rent arrears, their landlord can then start Court proceedings to try to get possession of the property. Clearly this is very serious.
Our specialist housing solicitors can help tenants who are in rent arrears. Our solicitors are able to help as soon as a tenant receives a notice from their landlord. Sometimes this help can mean that landlords don’t actually go ahead and start Court proceeds and can save tenants a lot of stress and worry, not to mention Court costs. We can still help tenants who have not done anything about the notice and have gone on to receive Court papers. Whatever stage a tenant is at our solicitors can help and it is important that tenants take steps to get that help before it is too late. Legal Aid is available for cases that concern the loss of a home, subject to a financial means assessment. If you are receiving state benefits, you may automatically be entitled to legal advice at no cost.