More than 200 Hartlepool families at risk of losing their home

More than 200 Hartlepool residents faced being evicted from their homes in the last year according to latest government figures.

Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 3:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 4:43 pm
Harlepool Citizens Advice debt advice team and manager Joe Michna
Harlepool Citizens Advice debt advice team and manager Joe Michna

Across the North East, over 12,000 private renters were put at risk of losing their home in the last year alone.

In Hartlepool the figure was 228 or one in 72.

National homelessness charity Shelter has called the figures alarming and one town agency says it is seeing the consequences of people struggling to pay their rent.

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Hartlepool had the fourth highest rate of people at risk of eviction out of 12 areas in the North East.

Nadeem Khan, helpline adviser for Shelter, said: “Every day at Shelter we hear from people who are struggling to keep up with their rent, many in total desperation after the court papers land on their doormat and the threat of being evicted becomes very real.”

Citizens’ Advice Hartlepool says restrictions on housing benefit can see people fall into arrears.

Manager Joe Michna said: “There is something called the Local Housing Allowance which limits the amount of help people can get with housing benefit to pre-defined limits depending on their age, their rent and family circumstances. Many tenants often have a rent shortfall that they need to make up themselves.

“Also, the level of long-term security is less in the private sector than it is in the social housing sector.

“Most private sector tenancies are only for an initial 12-month period - these are called Assured Shorthold Tenancies and it is relatively easy for the landlord to regain possession after the end of the 12-month period.”

He added the issue and so called bedroom tax is also affecting social housing tenants.

Citizens’ Advice Hartlepool has comprehensive debt advice service and housing advice and tenancy support service which can help people find new accommodation if they find themselves homeless as a result of an eviction.

Hartlepool Borough Council said it helped 465 households with housing related debt problems in the last financial year and prevented 145 being evicted.

A spokesman said: “When issues arise over non-payment of rent, we would strongly urge both tenants and landlords to seek advice from debt advice agencies or from the council’s housing advice team to try to resolve the problems before they end up in legal proceedings.”

People can also contact Citizens’ Advice Hartlepool or Shelter on 0808 8004444.