West Dunbartonshire Council defends housing policy after evictions increase
An increase in evictions by the local authority from eight last year to 34 this year has been described as “very worrying” by housing charity Shelter Scotland.
Speaking to the Dumbarton Reporter, Shelter Scotland director, Grame Brown, said the council should take action to keep people from being evicted.
He said: “It is very worrying that evictions in West Dunbartonshire have risen in the last year. We urge the council to do everything it can to help people keep their homes and only ever use eviction as the last resort after all other options have been tried.
“We know from calls to our free national helpline that thousands of people across Scotland are finding it very hard to make ends meet and face an uncertain future, especially as more welfare reforms hit home and wages and employment remain insecure.”
But the council said evictions were only considered when the people in question completely failed to engage with the council regarding working out a repayment plan for their rent arrears.
Consideration was also given to tenants who may be struggling to pay rent due to being put out of the benefit system and working on zero hours contracts.
A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson told Scottish Housing News: “West Dunbartonshire was the first council in Scotland to give a permanent pledge not to evict tenants in rent arrears if they had a modest payment plan in place. In addition we have committed thousands of pounds to funds that assist tenants experiencing difficulty in paying their rent.
“A quarter of the figures reported were individuals who had abandoned their tenancy. The remaining tenants had repeatedly failed to engage with the council over a long period of time. Eviction is always a last resort and one we take with the greatest reluctance.
“The council also has a free Advice Service which is available to every resident in West Dunbartonshire. Skilled staff can provide advice and guidance on a range of matters, including debt management and budgeting. Get in touch on freephone 0800 980 9070 or 01389 776929.”