Last year, social landlords issued 10,000 fewer possession claims. It is believed that they are working more closely with tenants to avoid rent arrears building up, after the introduction of Universal Credit.
Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last month revealed that social landlords issued 97,924 claims for possession in 2014, down by 9% on the 107,893 in 2013.1
Part of the legal process for gaining possession of a property is issuing possession claims in a county court. This is done when tenants fall into arrears, or if the tenancy agreement is broken in any other way.
Some research suggests that the drop in claims is down to housing providers communicating more with their tenants at an earlier stage, as they need to manage rent arrears better following welfare reforms. Consequently, they are avoiding a build up of problems that can lead to court action.
With Universal Credit in place, the majority of households are paid housing benefits directly.
Director of Rent Control and Rent Collection at Family Mosaic, Viv Davies, says that the amount of possession claims at the 19,000-home provider have fallen slightly in the last year, due to better liaison with tenants. Davies comments: “We are getting to know our tenants better and are more engaged.”1
Family Mosaic has begun using text messages to remind tenants to pay their rent. In some cases, Davies threatens tenants with small claims action.
A partner at Devonshires, Nick Billingham, says: “Landlords are doing more work with tenants to maximise their benefits and sort out their issues.”1
Policy Leader at the National Housing Federation, John Bryant, says that the figures are “encouraging”, and noted that the social sector is working alongside tenants to minimise arrears.1
The MoJ study also shows that eviction notices are not being followed through into court action.
A total of 167 social landlords issued 239,381 possession notices in 2013-14, a rise of 21.9% on 2012-13.1