Council’s concern over growing rent arrears

Leeds City Council is encouraging any council tenant struggling to pay their rent to urgently get in touch for help and advice on what they can do.

Currently just over 7000 council tenants are affected by the government’s under-occupancy change.

When looking at the figures from a week directly before the charge began, and comparing this with the same accounts seven weeks later, around 2800 tenants out of 5200 tenants who had a clear rent account before the charges began had already fallen into rent arrears seven weeks later. At this moment in time this has left the total uncollected rent at £138,000, with a percentage of this being attributed to the effect of under occupation.

Any shortfall in income that is generated through rent affects all council tenants as it is the main source of funding used to maintain and invest in housing stock in the city and, therefore, the council needs to sustain this income to continue to plan future capital investment.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“The overall figures speak for themselves; over 50% of tenants affected by under-occupation who had clear rent accounts before these changes were brought in are now falling into rent arrears after just seven weeks, and through no fault of their own.

“We predicted before the changes came into place that there would be increasing numbers of tenants going into rent arrears and the difficulty that councils will face. Since under occupation was introduced, we as a council are having to collect an extra £78.5k each week from tenanted properties.

“We knew this was going to be a difficult time for people affected and, therefore, have already committed further resources to provide targeted support for tenants affected by the changes, and also ensure rent is collected for the benefit of all tenants.

“Any tenants that find themselves in arrears need to contact and engage with their local housing officer as soon as possible to receive dedicated advice about the options available to them and support for the future.”

For more information tenants should get in contact with their relevent ALMO;

Aire Valley Homes Leeds 0800 915 6660 or 0113 3984710

East North East Homes Leeds 0800 915 1600 or 0113 3984711

West North West Homes Leeds 0800 915 1113 or 0113 3984708

For media enquiries, please contact;

Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk