Social sector evictions up by a quarter in Scotland

Social sector evictions in Scotland have risen by almost a quarter over the last two years, a report from Shelter Scotland shows.

Shelter Scotland report shows social evictions in Scotland have risen over last two years. PICTURE: LISA FERGUSON

The housing campaign group’s Evictions by Social Landlords in Scotland 2012-16 report says evictions have risen by 24 per cent over the past two years and thats the good progress in reducing social evictions in the four years up to 2014 has been reversed.

The charity also says where families are involved the rise in evictions should raise alarm bells that local authorities and registered social landlords are failing to adhere to Scottish Government guidelines to act in the best interests of children.

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The report also raised serious concerns in relation to social housing providers using the threat of eviction as a way of collecting rent arrears – illustrated by the big discrepancy between the 37,559 notices of proceedings sent to tenants and the 2,130 evictions that social sector landlords actually carried out.

The charity says the result is that many vulnerable families and individuals may be put through stress and trauma of legal action and the threat of losing their home unnecessarily.

Alison Watson, the charity’s deputy director, described the latest figures as “extremely disappointing.”

“Shelter Scotland has been campaigning for many years for a reduction in the number of eviction actions over rent arrears in the social rented sector. We strongly believe that forcing someone to leave their home should only ever be an absolute last resort.

“We believe these figures on social landlord evictions show that a fundamental shift is needed in how rent arrears are managed. Tenants must always prioritise and take responsibility for paying their rent, but eviction is a very crude and inefficient way of dealing with rent arrears of tenants who often struggle with complex social and financial issues.

Ms Watson added: “Evicting families from their homes is also at odds with social landlords’ statutory responsibilities to prevent and tackle homelessness and to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In particular, it is doubtful whether most evictions of families are in line with the Scottish Government’s guidance to act in the best interests of children facing homelessness.

“Eviction can put children’s wellbeing at risk by potentially pushing them into temporary housing, which can be of variable quality, where they might be forced to move away from their school, friends, family members and general support system.”