Government urges landlords to avoid evicting tenants over bedroom tax
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Finance, Regulation
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Landlords have been urged to "consider all possible options" to avoid evicting tenants who struggle to pay their rent as a consequence of the bedroom tax.
The Scottish government has also called for the Coalition's forthcoming under-occupancy rules to be scrapped competely.
“I have made the Scottish Government’s opposition to the bedroom tax absolutely clear. Indeed, I put the case for it to be scrapped in the strongest terms to Lord Freud when we met in London," said housing minister Margaret Burgess.
The minister has written to landlords across Scotland to encourage them to follow the lead of Dundee Council, which has already pledged to make up any shortfall suffered by tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying their social homes.
The letter also makes landlords aware that in certain circumstances it may be possible to reclassify rooms so they are not considered bedrooms - for example, tenants who use an extra room to store equipment related to a disability and therefore do not use the room as a bedroom.
The Scottish government has also made extra funding available to provide support for those who will be hit by cuts to their housing benefit after April 1.
The news follows the announcement by Brighton & Hove Council that it will not evict any tenant who gets into arrears because of the bedroom tax.
Ms Burgess continued: “I have now written to landlords to encourage them to look sympathetically on tenants affected. We already have strong safeguards in place to ensure eviction is an absolute last resort. While we do not want to see tenants run up debts they cannot pay, it is important, in what will be challenging times, that extra consideration is given to people who are having housing benefit taken away.
“Dundee City Council has taken innovative action on this, clarifying that, where tenants are doing all that can be reasonably expected in order to avoid falling into arrears, they will use all legitimate means to collect rent due, except eviction. I know other councils are also working towards a similar position and I hope landlords across Scotland can follow this example.
“There are also circumstances where a bedroom’s classification may be changed and tenants not penalised. Again, I would encourage landlords to consider this possibility and work with their local authority if at all possible."