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Housing association apologises to private tenants over 'repossession' letters

Housing association apologises to private tenants over 'repossession' letters

A housing association has apologised for any distress it may have caused by writing to tenants in private rental accommodation about the possibility of repossession.

The letter was sent last month to 57 households in Haringey, London, warning them about changes to benefit and saying that Genesis may be forced to return properties to their owners if the tenants can no longer afford the rent.

It said Genesis would start legal proceedings “to ensure that we can return the property with vacant possession”. It advised tenants to take their own legal advice.

The letter says: “The local authority that referred you to your current accommodation advised us that your property will be affected by the changes to benefits.”

Caps to housing benefit mean that for some tenants receiving Local Housing Allowance, there is a gap between their housing benefit and the private rent they are being charged.

Genesis has now written again to all 57 tenants, apologising.

It said: “We have strict processes in place to ensure all our communications to our residents are of the highest standard, and we accept that on this occasion we did not meet this standard.”

In a statement, Genesis said: “Genesis acts in partnership for these properties with the London Borough of Haringey and third party landlords.

“The nature of temporary housing is such that managing agents have lease obligations, guaranteeing a landlord full vacant possession at the end of the lease. In order to ensure that this happens, a Section 21 notice is required. These letters were for that purpose.

“We will continue to work with our residents to help them sustain their tenancies. We have over the last year been working closely with both temporary housing tenants and our own tenants who are at risk because of benefit reductions as identified by the DWP, and subsequently by the local authority.

“This work includes home visits by Genesis staff, to discuss ways in which tenants can minimise the impacts of welfare reform on their households.”