Love of Lego lands Chris in rent arrears

Christopher Royston with some of his models
Christopher Royston with some of his models
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AUTISTIC Christopher Royston’s passion for Lego bricks and jigsaws landed him in hot water with his rent and council tax bills.

He has built up a collection at his home on Derby Street, Heeley, which includes a large ship, garage and dragons made from Lego bricks as well as puzzles including a jigsaw globe.

But the 32-year-old admits spending on his hobby went out of control and he missed months of rent payments to Sheffield Homes.

Christopher said: “I went out buying Lego and puzzles to give me something to divert my anxiety but it meant I wasn’t keeping control of my budget so ended up in debt.”

Sheffield Homes sent Christopher a warning asking for £129.76 of arrears.

He said: “After receiving the letter in January, I asked Job Centre Plus to take the rent, plus £3.30 a week towards the debt, from my benefits and give it to Sheffield Homes on my behalf and the payments started being made.”

But the payments were not large enough and Sheffield Homes took Christopher to county court, saying the arrears had built up to £159.71, which he was ordered to pay along with £169.50 costs.

“I was told that if I did not pay, I could lose my home,” he said.

Christopher, who is on Job Seeker’s Allowance, added: “I don’t understand why they took me to court as I was already addressing the issue and all it has done is meant I have a bigger bill to pay.”

Sheffield Homes said Christopher’s arrears had built up because he did not pay any rent between June and November last year.

Payments had been made from January but were insufficient to cover the rent and arrears, so the total owed increased.

Further warnings were issued but Christopher did not increase the amount he was paying so he was taken to court.

Sheffield County Court granted a suspended possession order meaning Sheffield Homes can apply to evict him if he does not pay his debts in the future.

The company said Christopher had informed them of his autism but not that it affected his ability to pay rent.

A Sheffield Homes spokeswoman said: “We work very closely with tenants, firstly when they sign up for a council property, then throughout their tenancy and during the rent recovery process, to offer support for any additional needs they may have.

“Mr Royston told us he did not have any particular needs that prevented him from paying his rent.

“As his arrears were building up and he continued not to pay, despite our advice and warnings, it meant we had no option but to take him to court.”

Sheffield Council said it has also waived £24.90 in unpaid council tax Mr Royston owed as a “goodwill gesture” and his debts are now clear.