Sheffield City Council tenants are being urged to put their rent first this Christmas and take advantage of the two rent-free weeks to clear or reduce any arrears.

All tenants with a clear rent account or who have signed up to a repayment agreement by 1 January will be entered into a free prize draw with a chance of winning two prizes of £250 shopping vouchers.

The prize draw is part of a campaign which highlights the need for customers in rent arrears to keep up with payments during the rent-free weeks which run from Monday 21 December.

Tenants failing to pay their rent risk losing their homes, so the council is encouraging people to make paying their rent a priority in the lead up to Christmas.

Cllr Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “We all know that there is a lot of pressure to spend money at Christmas and this can be really hard.

“But it’s important that people in rent arrears continue to pay during the rent-free weeks so they can try and catch up on rent, to make sure their home is safe.

“We’ll do everything we can to try and help, and I’d urge anyone who is struggling to pay to contact us on 0114 293 0000.”

Every tenant in arrears will be contacted with details of the prize draw and reminded to continue to make payments. People in financial difficulty are encouraged to get in touch with the council to discuss a realistic payment plan.

Paul Grayson, manager of the Income Management Unit at Sheffield City Council, added: “Our staff are available to give advice and assistance to tenants who are struggling with rent, to help them make realistic and affordable payment arrangements.

“However, we will move swiftly to recover rent from those who can afford to pay and do not, and ultimately they risk losing their home.”

Customers who meet the criteria for the prize draw will be automatically entered.