Social landlords can’t immunise themselves against the impact of the political and economic landscape, and this means some evictions are unavoidable, says the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations.
Responding to Shelter Scotland’s report on social sector evictions, published last week, GWSF says that whilst any eviction action is regrettable, it is worthy of note that despite extremely challenging times, evictions by housing associations have increased only by 5% since 2013/14, with year-on-year comparisons actually showing a fall in the 12 months to March 2016.
Set against overall stock figures, the report shows the following picture in 2015/16:
LAs – stock 317,000 NoPs 25,956 Court cases 8,871 Decrees granted 3,994 Evictions 1,300
HAs – stock 278,000 NoPs 11,630 Court cases 4,209 Decrees granted 1,607 Evictions 830
GWSF Director David Bookbinder said:
“The research is valuable and will encourage landlords to consider their practices. Ideally further research would talk to social landlords about their experiences of managing arrears at a very difficult time. Such research might also cast light on the differences between council and housing association approaches to dealing with arrears.
“Our members find that poverty alone is rarely the sole cause of arrears – many people in hardship do manage to prioritise paying for their home, but in the most difficult cases a common factor is often a complete failure to engage with the landlord.
“With so many people forced to pay a high rent in the private rented sector, getting a social sector home is something to be prized, and taking up a tenancy involves responsibilities as well as rights.
“Eviction very much remains a last resort. This principle is now enshrined in law, with landlords rightly needing to convince the court that they have taken a number of key steps to deal with the arrears. Our members don’t see recovery action as an alternative to debt advice, but rather as a potential consequence of repeatedly ignoring offers of support.
“It’s also significant that social landlords are progressing to eviction in only a third to a half of cases in which they’re getting decree.
“The report highlights the high long term cost of evictions, but there’s a limit to how much you can ask other tenants to shoulder the ongoing debts of their neighbours”.