Eviction fear after rent bill cock-up

Barbara Nettleton of Sunshine House Scholes with her bill
Barbara Nettleton of Sunshine House Scholes with her bill

BLUNDERING landlords told a shocked Wigan tenant that she could lose her home - after wrongly accusing her of being almost £900 in rent arrears.

Barbara Nettleton was mortified when Adactus Housing sent her a strongly worded letter saying that she owed £893.79.

This despite Mrs Nettleton being up to date on her account - apart from a payment of £85 which had been left outstanding since 2006. To add to the confusion, the threatening letter was dated May 2008.

There was both relief and anger when the 63-year-old of Darlington Street East phoned customer services to discover she was the victim of a computer glitch.

Mrs Nettleton said: “I have been with Adactus for 23 years. When my late husband, David, fell ill in 2005 I filled in an application form for housing benefits and because it was two weeks late I was told I was £85 in arrears.

“Over the years I tried to find out whose fault it was and nobody has mentioned it since so I ignored it. Then I got a letter of notice seeking possession and that I owed £893.

“There is a big difference between £85 and £893. That’s been on the account for five years and nobody has ever bothered me about it.

“When I got this letter I rang up and customer services said it was a computer error. How can a computer make that error? I was just taken aback and wondered where this had come from and why three years later?

“What if an elderly person received this letter? I had the sense to query it, but someone else may have paid it. Not everyone can afford for people to cock up on forms. I feel like I am one of many lost in the system.”

A spokesman from Adactus confirmed a new computer system caused the wrong notice to be sent to Mrs Nettleton.

He said: “We have clearly made a mistake and we tried to contact Mrs Nettleton to apologise.

“This week we introduced a new computer system to generate notices to tenants who owe us money.

“In Mrs Nettleton’s case, it looks like we have sent her a notice based on an incorrect code on her account which dates from 2008. The code should have been updated but was not due to an oversight.

“We don’t think that this will be a widespread problem but we are in the process of checking every one of the 50 notices we sent out this week.”