TENANTS behind with payments have the chance to help a housing body cut its £1.8m arrears bill next week.
As rent is usually collected in only 48 out of 52 weeks in the year, it is a week in which residents with a clear account do not have to pay anything to Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH).
But tenants who owe money have been urged to pay the usual amount to help get their arrears down.
KNH principal housing manager Dave Bennett said: “Every pound we collect during next week immediately reduces outstanding arrears, so anyone who owes rent should pay as normal to help cut their debt.
“Collecting rent is a top priority for us because it pays for all the services we provide. We therefore take strong action against those who don’t think paying rent should be their priority.
“However, we also have a range of ways that we can help those who are doing their best to keep their rent payments up to date, but are struggling to make ends meet.
“We have specialist advisers who can help people in the most difficult circumstances, so if you’re a council tenant and worried about paying your rent please give one of our advisers a call on 01484 414886 – we are here to help.”
A KNH spokeswoman said: “Arrears figures at any given time fluctuate widely from week to week or month to month, as they’re affected by all sorts of factors including the timing of benefits claims and direct debits.
“That’s normal for any housing provider – or mortgage lender – and this figure is within the anticipated range of arrears activity.
“We always take firm action against non-payers and many tenants in arrears are on some form of repayment agreement and pay a little extra each week. Paying during the catch-up week helps them take a big chunk out of their arrears.
“It’s also worth noting that arrears at year-end were below target and down substantially since KNH was first established by the council to take over housing management, when they were over £4m.
“There are – and always have been – four non-payment weeks per year and this is standard across the sector, historically dating back to when rent was collected in person to avoid any problems over bank holidays.
“Rent is set over 52 weeks but collected over 48 and we now time the non-payment weeks to help people budget for things like Christmas and the start of the new school year. We are not giving tenants a week of free rent.”