Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Edinburgh confirms no eviction policy

Edinburgh Council has adopted a ‘no eviction’ policy for tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.

The local authority agreed that ‘where the director of services for communities was satisfied that tenants who were subject to the under-occupation charge had done all they reasonably could to avoid falling in to arrears, then all legitimate means to collect rent arrears should be utilised except eviction’.

Under the under-occupation penalty, frequently referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’, social housing tenants of working age who are on housing benefit have their payments cut if they have one or more spare bedrooms. The reform, which came into force on 1 April, affects around 3,800 Edinburgh Council tenants.

Ricky Henderson, convener of health, social care and housing at the council, who proposed the motion which was passed by the policy and strategy committee on 16 April, said: ‘It is essential that people make every effort to pay their rent as this funds housing services and investment. However, this decision will protect our tenants from losing their home due to the impact of the bedroom tax.’

Cambridge Council, meanwhile, has decided against reclassifying rooms. Two Labour councillors had put forward a motion urging the Liberal Democrat-controlled council’s executive to ‘remove the unnecessary bedroom classification from rooms that are really too small to be bedrooms’ and ‘ensure that any decision to evict a tenant solely because of the bedroom tax and arrears is the responsibility of the executive councillor for housing’. About 800 households in Cambridge are affected by the new restrictions.

A final motion, which was approved on Thursday last week following an amendment put forward by councillor Catherine Smart, executive councillor for housing, made no reference to the two measures. 

On Wednesday last week, the Conservative-controlled West Lancashire Council had voted against approving a motion, tabled by Labour councillor Neil Furey, which called for the local authority to refrain from starting possession proceedings against council tenants who fell behind with their rent as a direct result of the bedroom tax.

Readers' comments (23)

  • Colin McCulloch

    Edinburgh Council says:

    ‘...where the director of services for communities was satisfied that tenants who were subject to the under-occupation charge had done all they reasonably could to avoid falling in to arrears, then all legitimate means to collect rent arrears should be utilised except eviction’.

    So evictions still possible then?

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  • so there is no sanction then if someone can afford but chooses not to. what kind of message is that then. we have enough trouble convincing tenants that rent is anything to do with them already i wonder if my bank would be as easy going if i didnt pay my mortgage - i think not and that isnt with public money

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  • Hi Philthy Boots. If tenants have simply chosen not to pay then they will not have "done all they reasonably could to avoid falling in to arrears", now would they?
    Good for Edinburgh. Tenants not being penalised when they really are doing their best.

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  • As usual Scotland is light years in front compared to dunped down England on social housing matters... Now they should go a step further and abolish bedroom tax altogether same as abolish the right to buy

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  • Melvin Bone


    This is a lovely present to all the tenants who will now have to make no effort at all to pay...I'm sure the other tenants who pay the full whack will be delighted...

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  • Well done Edinburgh.

    They will save cost of chasing people who can't afford the tax.

    This shows Edinburghs priorities - people first !!

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  • Councils (and housing associations) are in a lose-lose situation here whatever they do. Edinburgh's formal policy may sound grand, but in reality they probably won't be doing anything different from any other landlord.

    In the longer-term if tenants have no means of paying and are unwilling to consider any of the options of remedying the situation, then action will have to be taken. In the medium-term most landlords will not be turfing people out of their homes, when there is nowhere for them to go, and no alternative accommodation to offer. There is also every chance that a future government (and the general election is only 2 years away) will repeal this oppressive regulation.

    However should the next government retain this rule, expect a large wave of evictions to follow shortly after, with a bitter 3-way publicity struggle launched as to who is to blame.

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  • Frogman

    Who decides that the tenant has "done all they reasonably could to avoid falling in to arrears". This decision just introduces more ambiguity into the equation. It is now going to be down to the local housing officer to decide that because a tenant hasnt canceled thier sky subscription to pay the rent they will have to be evicted.

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  • No evictions ?????
    Really ?-- Does this not mean that the tenancies affected are None- Commercial Agreements and therefore Contrived Tenancies?

    I would question if a local housing authority is acting ultra vires by doing this.
    As for the current eviction proceedings of this council: ----- it will very interesting to hear both what is argued in court-- and if the matter goes to appeal.

    M`learned friends are already watching this one closely.

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  • DP so why cant anyone argue that they are "doing their best" when faced with eviction - its just that beers are 50p a unit or my scally son wont pay his keep or i know my husband is antisocial but i try to ask him to stop strangling the neighbours. how is this even the best use of resources to ignore lawful arrears and deny someone who could pay a home. it may be bad law but is law - can we now choose which to obey and which not

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