Shelter in warning over rent collection

Recommendations from the Audit Commission that social housing
providers put more focus on rent collection could lead to more
homelessness, housing charity Shelter warned last week.

The commission’s report says collection of rent – the biggest
source of revenue for housing associations – is steadily

In 1999-2000, only 36 per cent of associations met the target set
by social housing regulator the Housing Corporation that arrears
should be no more than 5 per cent of gross rental income.

The commission warns that further deterioration could make it more
difficult for some associations to maintain current levels of
service, and that, by not pursuing arrears, they could send the
wrong message to those tenants who fail to pay.

But Shelter believes that greater emphasis on rent collection
performance indicators may encourage housing associations to take
more cases to court. Instead, it is calling for a new performance
indicator on tenancy sustainment.

The move follows Shelter’s warnings in February that tens of
thousands of council and housing association tenants were being
made homeless by landlords who were resorting to court action too

Shelter’s director of policy, Alistair Jackson, said:”Vulnerable
people, such as pensioners and poorer families, find themselves in
arrears often through no fault of their own because of mistakes and
delays in benefits.

“With well over a million people in rent arrears, we fear that
things will only get worse and thousands more people will become

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