Council house rent arrears fall to record low in Bolton

Bolton Council said that rent owed by tenants to the local authority has reached an all time low.

Bolton at Home, the arm's length organisation in charge of the council's housing stock, collected around £46.5m in rents in the last financial year, 2008/09. The rents can only be used to repair, improve and manage tenants' homes.

Total rent owed at the end of March stood at £1.73m, equivalent to less than 4% of the total collectable rent.

Former tenants' arrears have decreased to £873,000, a reduction of £900,000 in the last four years. The level of rent owed by current tenants has halved in the past nine years and stands at £855,000.

The number of evictions due to rent arrears over the last year has also fallen, from 77 to 60.

Cllr Nick Peel, executive member for housing, said around £421,000 of the outstanding debt would be written off.

Peel said: "The amount we've written off is less than 1% of the total rental income owed to the council. This is a great achievement and it's largely down to officers acting early to give advice and guidance to tenants in the early stages of rent arrears. We've gone down the preventative route and concentrate on helping the can't-pays rather than the won't-pays, which has also resulted in evictions falling. All the rent we collect goes into repairing, improving and managing tenants' homes as council tax cannot be used for this purpose, which is why it's so important we continue to build on this."

The improvements have been achieved by a range of measures including the creation of a specialist income management team, which was set up two years ago to provide more support for tenants on how to pay rent and help them claim welfare benefits and discounts.

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