A Liverpool-based housing association is asking tenants to sign forms that say they accept they will be hit with legal action if they don’t pay their rent as a result of the ‘bedroom tax’.
One Vision Housing has sent out documents to 2,900 of its tenants who will be hit by the under-occupation penalty asking that they return them signed, and with a counter signature by a witness.
The disclaimer form explains the new rules, which come into force on 1 April, and asks tenants to confirm this has been properly explained.
It then warns: ‘I understand that One Vision Housing can take legal action against me if I fail to pay my rent including any shortfalls as a result of these changes.’
Social tenants took to Twitter, Facebook and blogs to complain that the letters were threatening.
The 11,500-home landlord said the form did not constitute a legal document, and that tenants did not have to sign it. Instead it reminded tenants of their existing obligations under their tenancy agreements following visits from One Vision staff.
Giles Peaker, a solicitor at law firm Anthony Gold, said: ‘There is no problem reminding people what their obligations are, but if they are saying pay up or there will be court proceedings, then that is heavy-handed.’
A spokesperson for the National Housing Federation said that while it encourages its members to educate tenants about the reforms, it is up to individual landlords how they do this - and it has not been advising landlords to send out disclaimers for tenants to sign.
Kevin Appleton, One Vision Housing income manager, said: ‘Welfare Reform is a change being introduced by the government, not social housing providers.
‘We feel we have a responsibility to ensure they [tenants] are fully aware and supported concerning any changes in legislation that may affect them.’