North Lanarkshire Council has written off £1.5m in rent arrears

editorial image

North Lanarkshire Council has written off £1.5 million in rent it is owed.

The uncollectable debts were run up by just over 2000 tenants with the majority owing less than £500.

Around 500 debtors were evicted, abandoned the property or left no forwarding address.

Another 400 of the debtors died leaving insufficient funds in their estate to clear the amount owed.

Just over 1000 debts were written  off because all avenues of recovery, both via the council’s internal processes and by way of legal action, have been exhausted and any recovery deemed impossible.

From 2015-17 the council collected over 99 per cent of owed rent, but this fell slightly in 2018 due to the impact of Universal Credit.

A report to the Community and Housing committee states: “The impact of various welfare reform measures has seen a significant increase in total rent arrears from 2013/2014 onwards.

“North Lanarkshire Council moved onto Universal Credit status in April 2018 and already there has been a significant impact of the future levels of former tenant arrears that will be sought for write off.

“A full income maximisation service is offered to all tenants to try and mitigate the impact of welfare reform on them.

“As reported last year based on current assumptions about the impact of welfare reform as borne out by recent trends, the level of write-off has increased and will likely continue to increase in future years.

“Additional provision for bad debt has therefore been factored into the base budget to accommodate this.”

Neil McGrory - Local Democracy Reporting Service