The number of Edinburgh council tenants being evicted from their homes is at a record low.
New figures released by the City of Edinburgh Council show that only 175 people were forced to leave their homes in 2009/10 due to rent arrears.
The 33% fall, down from 263 the previous year, has been put down to a new strategy aimed at reducing the number of court actions and evictions taking place.
In the action plan each of the Council’s six neighbourhood offices were encouraged to prioritise early intervention with tenants experiencing problems paying their rent.
Staff offered expert advice so tenants could gain access to benefits they were unaware of and helped them with ways of reducing their debt. This has led to the reduction in evictions and also a dramatic fall in court actions:
* A 19% reduction in legal notices being issued (945 compared to 1160)
* A 41% reduction in cases lodged at court (745 compared to 1274)
* A 28% reduction in decrees granted (492 compared to 681)
Other figures relating to rent payments for 2009/10 show:
* For the sixth year running the amount of rent arrears due to the Council fell – down by 10.2% to £1.24m
* Only 4% of tenants experienced serious arrears problems – the sixth successive year of improvement
* The proportion of Housing Benefit take up increased significantly to 68% of rent charged
Councillor Paul Edie, Housing Leader for Edinburgh, said: “The record low number of evictions and the drop in tenants in rent arrears is real proof that our policy of seeking alternatives to eviction is working.
“We have always said eviction for rent arrears is a last resort and we only take action against those who continue to refuse to pay rent or make arrangements to repay arrears.
“We realise these are challenging economic times and work closely with our tenants who have genuine difficulties in paying their rent to get advice from a range of specialist staff who can help them with debt and money problems. We can help them maximise their income through benefits advice and help them claim what they are due.
“Council housing is paid for solely by the rents and service charges that tenants pay. Our success in collecting rent helps pay for the services that all tenants in Edinburgh need and expect.”