Council is ‘well behind’

Angus Council is falling well behind the majority of Scotland’s social landlords after evictions rose by 121% over the last four years, new analysis by Shelter Scotland shows.

Set against a Scotland-wide picture of a 46% overall reduction in evictions by social landlords and a cut in the number of tenants in arrears, the housing and homelessness charity says Angus Council’s performance is cause for concern.

Despite a small reduction last year - there were 31 evictions compared to 34 in 2009/10 - Angus Council is one of only five councils to have failed to reduce eviction levels over the last four years. In 2007/08 there were just 14 evictions in Angus.

Launching its fourth annual report on social evictions, Shelter Scotland says that while the national picture is highly encouraging, with 21 of Scotland’s 26 local authority landlords showing reductions over the last four years, there is big room for improvement in those failing to reduce evictions.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: ”By working closely with tenants to find a solution, social landlords can reduce arrears and ensure eviction truly is a last resort.”

But Angus Council’s housing spokesman, Councillor Jim Millar, says eviction is always the last resort, and that rent arrears are far from the only reason for eviction.

He explained: “We will not hesitate to evict when anti-social behaviour warrants it, as was the case twice last year when we ended the tenancies of convicted drug dealers, as well as other legal measures we take where tenants wilfully choose to make the lives of their neighbours and communities a misery. Our tenants tell us they support our action.

“This is a very disappointing attack on Angus Council by Shelter. The handwringing, simplistic outlook...often bears no relation to challenges that local authorities face in providing homes, often for very vulnerable people; and, helping to build safe and sustainable communities.

“We have exhaustive processes in place to try and work with tenants, either to address their rent arrears, or address their behaviour.”

He continued: “We are very mindful of our responsibilities as social landlords and only resort to eviction for rent arrears when every other avenue has been exhausted. The very low level of evictions in Angus is evidence of this – they fell by nine per cent last year to 31, making us 10th lowest in mainland Scotland.

“I would be a lot more interested in what Shelter has to say if they used the considerable sums they spend on lawyers and publicity to build and maintain social homes themselves instead of criticising others who do.

“I am proud of our record on housing, which will see 147 new council houses built in Angus, on top of the homes we are funding for other affordable tenures. What have Shelter built?”