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Ban on eviction ignores anti-social problems

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A blanket ban on evictions that allows ‘won’t pay’ tenants to build up arrears and anti-social behaviour to continue is ‘a kick in the stomach’ for the vast majority of tenants who try to pay their rent and respect others’, said the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations this week.

Eviction protections simply hit the wrong target in social housing and it is tenants who will pay, said Forum director David Bookbinder. He was commenting on the confirmation that the Scottish Government plans to extend its emergency restrictions on evictions until March 2021.

‘It’s exasperating that the heavyweight campaigning on this issue makes no distinction between the social rented sector and private rented sector. That effectively assumes there’s no difference in how the respective sectors deal with problematic cases. Yet as a matter of both law and good practice, social landlords simply aren’t in the habit of trying to evict people who are engaging with them and trying to address things’, said Bookbinder.

‘The reality is that when it suits to treat the two sectors as one, that’s what happens, despite the fact that the legislative and regulatory framework for social landlords is, rightly, infinitely more demanding than what private landlords have to comply with. Careless talk about equalising standards across the two sectors is as singularly unhelpful as it is a fantasy.

‘As we’ve said previously, the worst arrears cases our members are facing are from those tenants who had seriously high arrears before COVID, and those who say they’re choosing not to pay rent during COVID because nothing can be done about it. I completely understand the sincere desire to protect people who are genuine victims of the impact of COVID, but extending this particular legislation in the social sector is protecting a different group altogether’.