By Melissa Clark
NIGHTMARE tenants who wreck their council-owned homes will be charged for repairs, one of the Scotland’s biggest councils revealed today.
Annual damage worth around £600,000 that it currently written off will now be billed to destructive tenants by Edinburgh council. Existing rules allow charges against real-life versions of Frank Gallacher, the antihero of TV hit Shameless, but these have rarely if ever been enforced.
The old approach infuriated many council workers who found themselves carrying out repeated repairs for tenants who wilfully destroyed their property. Councillor Cammy Day, Edinburgh’s housing leader, said: “The council is investing millions of pounds on new kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems and we want to make sure the stock we’ve got will last a long time.
“This is about people who are persistently causing deliberate damage. If it’s an accident, we fix it. If it’s in relation to kids who have some behavioural problem or violence in the house then we will give support. But for persistent people who are damaging council property we will look to recharge them. Where irresponsible tenants damage or neglect their home all other tenants have to pay for it- that’s not fair.”
In 2002 a family were evicted by the council because they had caused so much damage to their home in neighbouring Midlothian, it was uninhabitable. The new proposal to charge tenants is set to be discussed by the council’s health, social care and housing committee next week. They have already won the backing of the Edinburgh Tenants’ Federation.
It is hoped the new system will be used to identify vulnerable householders who may need additional support with violent behaviour. Cathy King, the council’s head of housing and regeneration, said responsible tenants had nothing to fear from the new policy.
Serial offenders where damage has clearly been caused deliberately or through negligence will be targeted. She said: “We don’t expect it will generate a huge amount of money, but it’s to try and redress the perception that we’ll repair anything, no matter how badly they treat their home.
“Tenants have expressed quite a lot of frustration. They will see somebody next door to them having repairs done repeatedly, whereas they have lived there 20 or 30 years and never had a repair, and they’re being charged the same rent.”