Social landlords evict twice as many as mortgage lenders, new research reveals
17 December 2008
Social landlords are evicting twice as many people as are being repossessed for mortgage default.
That’s the alarming finding from Shelter Scotland, the leading housing and homelessness charity, in its last published report of 2008, ‘Evictions by social landlords in Scotland’. (View the paper here)
The report shows that for every thousand social housing tenants, 13.1 had a decree for eviction granted against them – but the report shows that the rate for homeowners with a decree against them was only 6.8 per thousand. (1)
The report shows that almost 3,600 tenants of social landlords (council and housing association) were evicted last year, almost all of them for rent arrears – that’s almost ten a day.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Repossession of home owners has been a justifiable concern and one that politicians north and south of the border have been right to focus on. We have campaigned for better protection for homeowners because each repossession is an individual and social tragedy.
“This report makes sobering reading. It shows that eviction rates in the social sector, primarily for rent arrears, which should be recovered without resorting to such Dickensian measures, are alarmingly high. Being forced to leave your home should only be used as a last resort whether you are the tenant of a social landlord, or the owner of a property.”
He added: “The plight of all families threatened with homelessness must be at the forefront of politicians’ minds this Christmas, into 2009 and beyond, if Scotland’s 2012 homelessness target (2) is to mean anything.”
The report shows that councils took 13,382 tenants to court last year, eventually evicting 2,089 of them. Meanwhile, housing associations took 6,657 tenants to court, evicting 1,484 of them.
The charity has highlighted three areas for action:
The Scottish Government must tell its housing regulator to root out all avoidable evictions.
A protection package introduced comparable to that developed for homeowners. This requires public and political recognition that evictions are just as damaging as repossession.
Social landlords need to develop alternative ways of dealing with debt and breach of tenancy grounds that avoid making a family homeless.
In addition, Shelter Scotland has produced a new six-step guide to help people with rent arrears or facing eviction. Graeme Brown said: “No-one with financial problems should bury their head in the sand. Visit scotland.shelter.org.uk for advice on how to deal with problems.”
The ‘Time Up For Evictions’ campaign is being launched as part of Shelter Scotland’s ongoing Hometime Scotland campaign, which aims to ensure Scotland delivers on the internationally acclaimed 2012 homelessness target. (2)
Notes to editors
- These figures are a rate per 1,000 of people with decrees against them: but if we assume the same 'conversion' rate of decrees to actual evictions then we can use it as an indicator of relative eviction rates too. For more information, please see page six of the report, available here.
- By 2012, all unintentionally homeless people should have access to a permanent home, under Scottish legislation. Currently, only people designated to be 'in priority need'- generally families with children- have the right to a permanent home. All others have access only to temporary accommodation and support. By 2012, there will be no distinction and everyone will have the right to a home.
- For information on eviction rates across to Scotland, please refer to table six in Shelter Scotland's policy paper 'Evictions by social landlords in Scotland' here.
- Spokespeople are available for interview: telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews.
- For more information about Shelter, please visit www.shelter.org.uk