It’s been revealed that between April 2016 and March 2017, the former Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council issued “Notices Seeking Possession” to no fewer than 869 so-called “secure” council tenants.
The figure represents an increase of 28% in the legal actions taken against “secure” tenants in the previous year.
Secure tenants are a category of council tenant who enjoy several benefits not available to other local authority tenants: –
- Secure council tenants in the Vale are allowed to bestow “succession rights” in their tenancy on their death to their spouse or another member of their family – ensuring the property remains occupied by the same family.
- Secure tenants are allowed to take-in paying lodgers
- Secure tenants are allowed to “sub-let” part of the property they occupy.
- Although maintenance to the property is carried out by the Vale Council, “secure” tenants can – if they wish to – to carry out ‘home improvements’ .
- Secure tenants also continue have the right to buy the home they rent from the council at a discount to current market values
The Labour administration – which initiated the clampdown on tenants who didn’t pay their rent on time – lost control of the council when the Conservatives took power after the local government elections on May 4th 2017.
- Between April 2016 and March 2017 the Labour administration initiated what it called “formal recovery proceedings” against a total of 117 council tenants.
- In the case of “Secure” tenancies”, legal “Notices of Seeking Possession” [ – i.e. removing secure tenants from their homes] were issued to 869 secure tenants – compared with 677 in the previous year.
- Most defaulting tenants appeared to have paid up when confronted with eviction. A total of only 13 tenants were actually evicted from Vale council-houses and flats in the 12 months period to the end of March this year .
An internal council report says that there has been “further automation of the recovery process which has saved time carrying out administrative tasks and allowed staff to increase personal contacts with tenants and provide assistance to manage their rent accounts”.
The Vale Council is now increasing the use of SMS messaging to remind tenants of their rent arrears and reports that 3 new “Income Officers ” have been appointed to chase-up defaulting tenants .