Perth Citizens' Advice Bureau
The client has a very chaotic lifestyle; unfortunately he has drink and drug dependencies which are unmanaged. As a result, he’s in and out of hospital, and in and out of prison with petty crimes, mostly drug- and drunk-and-disorderly offences. But this has led to great interruptions in his benefits. So he gets money sometimes, and doesn’t get it other times. When he’s having a bad time with drink and drugs he doesn’t always remember to tell the authorities important things. This has had a few knock-on effects but most urgently it’s resulted in a large amount of rent arrears – he now owes close to £4000 to the local authority.
When the client came in, he told us he was being evicted in a week. During the eviction process there has to be a three-month period of ‘notice of proceedings’ to say you’re in rent arrears, then a court action, and callings in court. In other words he’d been sent many documents. But – and this is an indication of the challenges he faces with his drink and drug problems – it wasn’t until that end point that it cut through the ‘fog’ that he experiences and it registered how serious things were.
In those circumstances we usually refer to the charity Shelter to do a ‘minute for recall of decree’. That’s a legal document that takes the decree – the legal power that allows the council to evict – and takes it back a step. We were able to do that because he didn’t defend the action in any way.
Unfortunately Shelter was overloaded and couldn’t take the case on, so I had to get him back in and do all of the paperwork myself. With ESF funding I’ve got a bit more time to spend with clients doing paperwork that we wouldn’t normally [be able to] engage in.
The Positive Futures programme is part-funded by Perth & Kinross Council. That facilitates a positive working relationship with the council. For example, we don’t have to get a solicitor to serve legal documents; I can arrange an appointment and go round and actually give them to the council. We also have a good relationship with the housing officers and the court team.
Within four working days we’ve managed to have the eviction cancelled. There’s still a lot of work ongoing to get his benefits back in place and deal with any other debts. His rent arrears are the only urgent debt and we’re hoping that, by the time it comes back to court, Shelter will be able to represent him (we can’t do representations). If we get his benefits back in place, it’s unlikely that the decree will be granted anew, so the eviction will be stopped as well.
His rent will be paid directly to his landlord because they’re the local authority. Then they will make a deduction towards the rent arrears so it will be slowly paid back over time. That’s beneficial to him, because, due to his drug and alcohol dependencies, he has serious memory problems and doesn’t remember to pay things.
It’s definitely a short-term positive outcome; we also believe there’s a good chance of a long-term positive outcome.
To make an appointment please call the Positive Futures team on 01738 450581 or email:
The Positive Futures programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust.