Craig Edward: Rent holiday is a non-starter
Craig Edward offers an alternative view to Grant Ager’s call for Scotland’s social landlords to consider a three-month rent holiday.
I have to say I disagree with Grant. Tenants have varying circumstances and different methods of payment of rent. It is far too simplistic to suggest that rent should be suspended. I don’t think asking an elderly tenant to contact the DWP to cancel their rent arrangements actually solves the problem. This would, therefore, be counter-productive.
Then there are the costs. If this ill-conceived concept was unleashed, RSLs would lose millions of pounds in rent. How would that help? We would be storing up longer-term pain for shorter-term gain. Capital investment programmes could be halted and RSLs could end up in financial difficulties.
RSLs are well-versed in managing difficult circumstances and I have no doubt that this will continue. Circumstances which meet criteria for an RSL to suspend rent payments will be the decision of that RSL.
The Scottish Housing Regulator is there to regulate, not manage. That’s what senior officers do with the strategic guidance from committee members.
If the government decides to refund RSLs for losing three months’ worth of rent/service charges for every tenant, then this would absolutely be welcomed. I am not so sure, however, that this option is on the horizon at this time.
Craig Edward is the vice chair at Dalmuir Park Housing Association but has written here in a personal capacity.
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