Emh homes have reassured their tenants they will help them set up an affordable plan to
gradually bring their accounts into advance. They also apologised if any of their letters caused distress. Ex council tenants in Sawley had received bills in excess of £350 claiming that their rent is now due in advance and not in arrears. One tenant told the Extra that some of the residents were OAPs and were not able to find the money. He showed the Extra his bill. On one page it stated that he was £1.30 in credit on a second page it said: Overdue rent £350. Under this it said: What you must due now. Make an immediate payment of the full balance. On the foot of the page it stated: You are at stage 1 and that stage 2 meant Pre Notice of seeking Possession.
Erewash Borough Council transferred their housing to Three Valleys Housing Limited.in 2002. In 2011 Three Valleys Housing with 5,000 homes joined the emh group. Today emh are the landlord for 18000 homes in more than 40 local authority areas in the region.
After speaking to emh on Monday morning the Extra received the following statement from Jerry Sykes, their Communications Officer.
“All our tenancy agreements state that rent must be paid in advance. As a business it is essential that we receive rent on time so we can continue to deliver our services, including carrying out repairs and building new homes. And as a landlord it is our responsibility to ensure tenants pay their rent on time to avoid the risk of losing their home. The introduction of welfare reforms, particularly Universal Credit and the forthcoming Benefits Cap, has meant that we have had to become stricter about reinforcing the terms of tenancy agreements for the benefit of all concerned.
It was not our intention for the letters to cause distress, and we ran the letter by our involved tenants beforehand to ensure we had got the tone right, so we apologise if this was the case. We had let our tenants know about the forthcoming changes previously through our tenants’ magazine and sometimes with individual letters. In every case we have advised people that if they have any financial concerns whatsoever they should speak to us as soon as possible. We can provide support and help them set up an affordable plan to gradually bring their account into advance. Our financial inclusion officers are also able to support people with money advice and maximising benefits.
We are currently reviewing the letter in light of feedback, and will be ensuring that the offer of support is more positive and prominent in future.”