An all time low for AHA arrears

Angus Housing Association has announced that its level of outstanding rent arrears owed by current tenants recently hit an all-time low.

Staff of the Arbroath based landlord, which has around 1,800 houses in the Dundee City and Angus Council areas, reported last week to the Association’s Service Delivery Committee, that rent arrears at the end of September, 2011 had been reduced to less than £87,000.

This equates to 1.45% of the gross rent charged to tenants and is the best performance the Association has ever recorded. Only one tenant of the Association owed more than £1,500 and 18 owed between £750 and £1500.

Bruce Forbes, director, said: “I want to congratulate all of the Association’s staff involved in rent collection and arrears control for their outstanding efforts in achieving this level of performance.

“It is particularly heartening, in this time of recession, when nearly all households are under severe economic pressure, that we can continue to help the vast majority of our tenants to prevent their debt problems with rent arrears from getting out of control.

“This is down to the simple, common sense approach we take of identifying problems early and intervening to make sure that tenants get the benefits and money advice they need and by entering into realistic repayment arrangements that they can afford.

“We know that these are tough times for our tenants and there is always going to be the temptation to spend the rent money on other things.

“We also know that sometimes families are faced with a difficult choice, especially in Winter, between the rent and heating bills.

“What our figures show is that the bulk of the debt outstanding is made up of smaller, manageable amounts of less than three to four months rent.

“This tells me that we are still being successful in engaging and communicating with our tenants and preventing their debt problems from becoming insurmountable.

“By doing this, tenants don’t generally run away from the problem by abandoning their home and leaving huge ex-tenants’ arrears.

In many ways, this is a far better indicator of how our staff are performing than beating our target of two per cent for arrears owed.”

Angus Housing Association’s announcement comes hard on the heels of Angus Council reporting that they had reduced their rent arrears from 7.16% in July to 7.13% in October and that council officers had recently visited Glasgow Housing Association on a fact-finding best practice visit in an effort to improve their performance.

Mr Forbes added: “It is slightly disappointing that Angus Council have felt the need to go so far afield to try to learn good practice from another landlord when we are on their doorstep and would have been happy to share our expertise and experience with them if they had asked.”