Luminus slammed for eviction card’
A SOCIAL landlord has been accused of lacking Christmas spirit after sending some of its tenants rent demands in the form of a Christmas card. The Luminus Group, which took control of Huntingdonshire s council housing stock seven years ago, was branded i
A SOCIAL landlord has been accused of lacking Christmas spirit after sending some of its tenants rent demands in the form of a Christmas card.
The Luminus Group, which took control of Huntingdonshire's council housing stock seven years ago, was branded 'insensitive' for using the Christmas season to chase rent arrears.
The front of the card depicts a family scene around the Christmas dinner table but, once opened, the card shows a closed door with a sign reading 'notice of eviction'.
Luminus has said it did not intend to cause offence with the card, but was aiming to reduce its rent arrears without having to resort to eviction.
However, one of the tenants to receive the card, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Hunts Post: "It is wrong to use the message of Christmas in this way.
"Of course there are some people who deliberately avoid paying their rent but threatening people with eviction at Christmas is insensitive and insulting."
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Last week, 228 cards were sent to Luminus tenants owing rent to the company, accompanied by a reminder of the sums owed. The card says the firm's Christmas rent-free period does not apply to the tenant as they have arrears.
On the rear of the card are the messages: 'Last year we evicted 12 tenants for not paying their rent' and 'Have a worry-free Christmas and New Year by reducing your debt now'.
Luminus stressed that, as far as it was able to judge, the cards were not sent to vulnerable tenants or those with special needs.
A spokesman said: "A small number of tenants persist in not co-operating with the numerous attempts by Luminus to assist them with their arrears.
"These tenants are sent a reminder, using a card or leaflet with a clear message rather than a letter, to ensure customers are able to give this matter their proper consideration."
Nigel Finney, executive director of operations for Luminus, added: "A very small number of customers have contacted us with concerns about the Christmas connotations of the card.
"We have made it clear to them that no offence was intended. There are many more people in rent arrears that did not receive this reminder. These cases are managed by various staff and assisted by the Luminus income and benefits adviser who helps them plan a scheme of repayments to help them out of debt."
The Luminus tactics met with a mixed reaction in Huntingdonshire yesterday (Tuesday).
Student Dan Holmes, 16, from Huntingdon, said: "It is a bit distasteful to use Christmas in this way but it is a good way of getting the point across."
However, Jennifer Orton, 49, from Yaxley, added: "It is supposed to be the season of goodwill and this is completely over the top."
Parent group of Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership, Luminus provides more than 30,000 homes across the district.
INFORMATION: What do you think? Are the cards an effective way of encouraging people to clear debt or insulting to the notion of Christmas? E-mail your views to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.