Social housing rent arrears and eviction rates down

The research also shows that eviction rates have fallen in social housing. In 2004-05, housing associations carried out 9114 evictions. Last year (2008-09), there were 7703 evictions – about 95% of these were because of unpaid rent.

The report also finds that while most housing associations have moved towards a more preventive and supportive approach to handling rent collection, there have been instances where some have started legal action without considering all of the possible reasons for non payment of rent, such as a delay from the local authority in providing Housing Benefit to the tenant. This means that some associations may not always be following all of the procedures set out in Government protocol before starting the process to evict tenants.

Richard Moriarty, Director Policy and Market Intelligence, said: "Overall, housing associations are doing better at tackling rent arrears. The incidence of rent arrears has fallen slightly over the past few years and many housing associations show good proactive support to tenants. Associations have changed the way in which they approach rent collection – almost half now employ specialist welfare benefits advisers and 56% have in place arrangements with independent debt advisers.

"There is still room for improvement so that landlords effectively combine collecting the rent with helping people stay in their homes. That’s why our new standards for landlords, which will come into force on 1 April, require landlords to develop and provide services that will support tenants to maintain their tenancy and prevent unnecessary evictions."

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