Millions of pounds are owed to Dundee City Council by tenants in rent arrears according to a new report by the Evening Telegraph. Figures provided to the Telegraph show that more than £2 million of debt has been accrued by council tenants in the city who have defaulted on their payments to the local authority.

The cash owed equates to 10.7% as a percentage of the net amount due in the year. The unpaid figure of £2,096,257 provided by the council was correct as of November 1 last year.

North East Region MSP Bill Bowman said “early intervention” was key to avoiding debt. “Dundee saw its highest council housing rent arrears occur under the SNP administration. This figure has come down in the two years since in line with neighbouring councils. Officers have done well to work with tenants to keep people in their homes. But a figure of more than 10% is still too high and represents hundreds of people. There are lots of reasons why tenants can fall behind on payments and the council must do more to promote its advice services.”

However, Graeme Brown, director of housing charity Shelter Scotland, said low incomes and changes to benefits were the main factors in many rent arrears cases. He said: “Struggling to afford a home is one of the main reasons people contact Shelter for help. Low incomes, unstable employment like zero-hours contracts and welfare cuts are part of the problem. Last year we reported a 25% increase in evictions by social landlords in Scotland between 2013/2014 and 2015/2016, mainly due to rent arrears. We found that welfare cuts were driving up arrears and we expect this to be an increasing problem.”

A Dundee City Council spokeswoman said: “We have robust procedures for collection from both current and former tenants. If they are having difficulties paying their rent, we strongly advise them to seek advice as soon as possible from the corporate debt team. Staff there can offer help and assistance. If tenants require advice and support with budgeting and managing their finances, they can also contact the council’s advice services team for free and confidential advice.

“We make every effort to reach a suitable repayment solution with tenants.”

Source:  Evening Telegraph