The Now Blog!

Barry Marlow writes:

The Possessed

It was with dismay that I learned that 19,903 social housing tenants lost their homes last year through social landlord evictions. (MoJ figures). Once evicted from social housing there would appear to be limited options for these people, but there are no figures telling us where they all go next. (no MoJ figures).

The cost of possession action to the sector is around £160m at a time when money is short. I’m not totally convinced social landlords will see much of that investment returned by those evicted. Former tenants arrears are not traditionally either a priority or met with enthusiasm by many housing officers. See the bad debt/write-off column in the annual accounts as evidence. So, not good value for money either.

It appears that, with universal credit looming, the core worry in the sector is going to be the financial relationship social landlords might be having with their tenants. Back in 1996 this core worry was anti-social behaviour and the lobby back then was for a wider range of tools that dealt with the problem, rather than focusing on eviction. The sector successfully employed starter tenancies and demoted tenancies (among other things) as a means to manage anti-social behaviour, but it is rent arrears that seems to be the reason many starters fail to succeed.

If the problem is going to be money then the sector needs to be realistic. Evicting more tenants, just like anti-social behaviour, won’t cure the problem. It’ll just be pushed elsewhere.

This post launches the debate to extend demotion of a secure/assured tenancy on the grounds of rent mis-management alongside the anti-social behaviour breach that already exists.

A ‘demoted rent tenancy’ would give more scope for landlords to manage the problem rather than focus on escalation processes that all face possession action. There needs to be something else to bring to the conversation in this new welfare reformed housing world. Tenants themselves can be encouraged to focus on something more realistic than the tired, protracted possession process where no-one wins.

Demotion might be an option, used with due diligence, that focuses on potential solutions. It might just save money, as well as sustain tenancies.

And who is going to argue against those two things?


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