Flintshire Council tenants still owe more than £2m in rent but arrears are no longer increasing
The total amount of money owed to Flintshire Council by tenants stands at £2.04 million, an improvement of £143,000 compared to the end of last year.
When it meets next week, the council’s cabinet will be told that despite an increasing numbers of tenants migrating away from housing benefit to the Universal Credit (UC) system, collection of rent is continuing to stabilise and no longer increasing.
The last three years of Universal Credit full-service rollout have been “extremely challenging for the rent income service.” The council said.
“The housing service has worked hard to challenge the inevitable impacts that most social landlords experience with rising rent arrears.”
In a report to be presented to senior councillors, Chief Officer for Housing and Assets Neal Cockerton states: “Steady progress is being made to reduce rent arrears and this is being achieved as a direct result of increasing resources.
Mr Cockerton said that “introducing an early intervention hub to assist those tenants at most risk of losing their homes.”
He adds, “the council is adopting a more robust stance around the importance of paying rent on time and investing in Mobysoft ‘Rent Sense’ software.”
The new software was deployed in July 2019, it is designed to track and monitor rent arrears more quickly and provide earlier interventions.
The council’s revenue service continues to take legal action “as a last resort” against those tenants who fail to pay rent on time.
In most cases, the initial court action results in regular repayment and tenants getting back on track with payment of rent, but on occasion, the council says “further follow-up legal action is necessary against those tenants who persistently fail to pay.”
20 evictions have taken place so far in 2019/20 for serious rent arrears after “all recovery remedies” have been undertaken by the Council.
The number of evictions up to 2019/20 year-end is expected to be much lower than the level of evictions in the previous year and “this is testament to the joint work being undertaken across the Housing service to supporting tenants.” The council said.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Dave Hughes, said:
“The rent income service has worked incredibly hard. The latest collection position shows rent arrears have stabilised and no longer increasing as they have done in previous years since the introduction of UC full service.
“The housing team has introduced specialist housing software which can identify those tenants who are more at risk of falling into arrears.
This technology is helping us identify risk cases, increase collections and reduce bad debts.
We are able to intervene much sooner, leading to smaller amounts of arrears and the opportunity to work with tenants quickly to get back on track with their rent.”
The report will go before a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday.
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