Aberdeenshire Council reports rent arrears increase to £1.8m
Aberdeenshire Council has said that it is currently dealing with £1.8 million in rent arrears as the coronavirus pandemic hinders people’s ability to pay their rent.
The council’s communities committee discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on housing rent management for tenants during a virtual meeting.
As of June 2, Aberdeenshire Council reported rent arrears of £1.8m, which has increased from £1.4m in April, and £1.7m in May.
Councillors heard from members of the housing management team on the steps that are being taken to address the issue.
Andrew Mackie, housing manager for tenancy services, said: “The report seeks to provide an early indication of the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on housing rental income. It seeks to analyse emerging trends and confirm action taken to assist tenants experiencing problems in paying rent.
“Clearly any impact on our income will need to be considered in terms of our medium and long-term financial planning. The report provides data for the first four week rent period since the commencement of the lockdown period.
“Housing can now report a further uplift in current tenant arrears of £1.85m as of June 2 2020. We are reporting a position of current rent arrears of £1.4 m as of the 4th April, £1.7m on 3rd May and £1.85m on 2nd June.
“The impact on the business plan should not be underestimated and we must anticipate further stresses on the wind-down of all UK Gov furlough and self-employed support.
“The August to October period is crucial in my mind to offer support to tenants as they may transition into benefit.”
He continued: “It’s essential that housing maintains a pro-active approach to welfare rights and money advice support to account for any further transition into benefits at this time.
“To this end a decision has been made to recommence rent arrears escalation processes with an emphasis on encouraging engagement with tenants who are experiencing problems in paying their rent and perhaps reticent in coming forward to discuss the position with us, we can help and that’s very much the message we’ve been trying to put across to our tenants.
“I think it’s clear that housing will do all it can to avoid anyone falling into high-level rent arrears as a result of COVID-19.”
Over the past few months, housing teams in Aberdeenshire have been working with tenants providing guidance for those who previously paid in cash, how they can pay in another way, such as through the post office, through phone or instant banking.
Councillor Sandy Wallace said: “I found this paper really quite reassuring it would be an area where we would have anticipated problems, and where to be frank would be unavoidable. The level of problems that we have seen are not as bad as I might have feared, and the response from officers is very reassuring as well.”
It was also noted that it was not likely that eviction action would be taken for anyone in rent arrears in the foreseeable future, The Evening Express reports.
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