Council rent collections set for shake-up

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CHANGES to council house rent collection are being considered by town hall chiefs.

The move would see payments taken over 52 weeks of the year instead of the current 48.

Plans are in response to Government welfare reforms and are included in an update of Wigan Council’s tenancy agreement, which also includes tougher rules on anti-social behaviour.

Tenants are being asked to have their say on the new agreement before it is put before councillors.

It is hoped it will help tenants budget their money by keeping their rent consistent.

Under the new welfare system, housing costs are paid directly to the claimant rather than their landlord.

Two thirds of the council’s 20,000 housing tenants claim benefits and will be affected by Government reforms.

Council assistant director of housing Peter Layland said: “We want tenants’ views on these changes and will be consulting with them throughout November before a final decision is made by councillors in December. We think moving to this new rent collection system will make it easier for tenants to cope with these changes and avoid getting into rent arrears.

“Most other councils across the country have already moved to a 52-week system, as have other social housing providers in Wigan borough.

The new tenancy agreement also includes a strengthening of the rules on anti-social behaviour. We’ve made progress on this issue over the years but this new agreement hardens some of the rules on animal ownership.”

Social housing landlords are legally required to have an agreement with tenants outlining their obligations and the tenants’ rights and responsibilities.

All council tenants will be sent information about the changes and consultation documents to fill in during early November. They will have 28 days to respond either online or via a Freepost address.