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HIGHLAND HOUSING CRISIS: Council urges people owing rent arrears to seek early intervention

By Scott Maclennan

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Inverness is the Highland area with the longest waiting list for housing. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Inverness is the Highland area with the longest waiting list for housing. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Highland Council has urged people owing rent arrears to seek early intervention after it emerged that tenants had amassed £3.3 million in debt to the local authority in yet another sign the region is experiencing a housing crisis.

At a meeting of the Highland Council’s housing and property committee officials and council bosses moved to assuage fears that those in debt could be kicked out of their homes as legal action would be a “last resort.”

Many tenants are experiencing difficulties in paying rent or accessing welfare benefits and are falling into rent arrears but the council’s own policies mean that all tenants in arrears are considered as vulnerable and in need of support.

The local authority is calling on anyone who is struggling to keep up with rent payments to contact their local housing officer or their welfare support team via the council website.

Committee chairwoman Councillor Glynis Campbell Sinclair said: “The Highland Council Housing Service works closely with our Welfare Support Team to ensure early intervention and inform tenants of rent arrears as soon as they arise.

“Due to the ‘Cost of Living Crisis’, and other global factors, many tenants are finding themselves in rent arrears for the very first time and require early intervention to guide them through the process and to provide appropriate welfare support to each individual.

“Local Housing Officers carry out a crucial role and ongoing training to ensure they can assist tenants with up to date information and can refer people to existing and new grant funding, direct tenants to agencies available that can help ensure they can access support to which they are entitled and can assist with debt and personal budgeting issues.

“We encourage anyone experiencing financial difficulty and/or rent arrears to get in touch with your Local Housing Officer and/or Welfare Support to ensure that all entitled financial support and energy saving measures are in place.”

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