Mortgage arrears chasing firm enter social housing sector
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Finance
Opinion: Does social housing need a tougher approach to rent collection?Image: Rent arrears via Shutterstock
A firm that assists homeowners with missed mortgage payments has entered the social housing sector.
Ascent is aiming to tackle late rental payments and reduce tenant evictions in the industry.
The national external field counselling business believes its new service will significantly increase recovery levels on defaulted rent and provide local authorities and housing associations with cost savings compared to how they currently deal with late payments.
The launch follows widespread concern amongst housing providers that the government’s welfare reforms, which include paying housing benefit direct to tenants rather than landlords under Universal Credit, will have a dramatic impact on rent arrears.
According to a National Housing Federation (NHF) survey, registered providers expect rent arrears to rise on average by 51% as a result of the changes - equating to £245 million across the sector. The NHF’s study found that many housing associations thought the changes would make it harder for them to meet their loan covenants.
Established in 2009, Ascent is the UK’s largest field agency operating in the mortgage sector, and is instructed by some of the largest financial institutions and expects to conduct over 40,000 mortgage cases this year.
Niall Gilhooley, chief executive at Ascent, said: “Rent arrears in the social housing sector are clearly an area of widespread concern. The impact of the government’s welfare reforms is already proving significant and the problem seems destined to get much worse.
"Our move into the rented accommodation sector is a natural and seamless follow on from all our work in the homeowner sector as the work is identical, as are regulatory, compliance and best practice issues. Above all, the objectives are the same: restoring regular payments to an acceptable