Let us make one thing clear from the outset: Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives are not in the business of evicting tenants. We house people who are in need of safe, affordable, warm accommodation and this is our raison d’etre.
Social landlords do not evict tenants in a cavalier fashion and evictions are only ever used as an absolute last resort.
This is evidenced by the fact that only one quarter of 1 per cent of all social tenancies end in eviction and therefore focusing on such a rarely used tool is deflecting attention from the real issue, which is to repeal the unfair and incompetent bedroom tax policy.
Measures are already in place to protect tenants from unfair eviction. Landlords have to show that they have taken steps to engage with, advise and assist tenants and ultimately prove to a sheriff that it is reasonable and proportionate to evict.
To suggest that tenants will be evicted simply for “non- payment of bedroom tax” is to misrepresent what the reality of the situation is likely to be.
Councils that have declared an amnesty on “bedroom tax” evictions have included a proviso along the lines of “as long as the tenant is engaging with the council to try and resolve the situation”.
This is what is already happening anyway and there is no need for such misleading pronouncements.
A “no evictions” policy is likely to act as a disincentive to other tenants to pay their rent. Crucially, it would likely have a substantial impact on how lenders might view the risk level of housing associations, going right to the heart of social house building in Scotland.
Rent is a landlord’s major source of income; collecting the rent is vital to pay for repairs, services and to help build new housing stock.
This is why the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, and its members, do not support a “no evictions” policy.
We view eviction as a necessary, and sparingly used, sanction for persistent non-payment of rent, and will continue to support our members and their tenants through these turbulent times, using our influence to abolish or amend the worst aspects of welfare reform.
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations