The local authority agreed that ‘where the director of services for communities was satisfied that tenants who were subject to the under-occupation charge had done all they reasonably could to avoid falling in to arrears, then all legitimate means to collect rent arrears should be utilised except eviction’.
Under the under-occupation penalty, which is frequently referred to as the bedroom tax, social housing tenants of working age who are on housing benefit have their payments cut if they have one or more spare bedrooms. The reform, which came into force on 1 April, affects around 3,800 Edinburgh council tenants.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, convener of health, social care and housing, who proposed the motion, which was passed by the policy and strategy committee on 16 April, said: ‘It is essential that people make every effort to pay their rent as this funds housing services and investment. However, this decision will protect our tenants from losing their home due to the impact of the “bedroom tax”.’
Cambridge City Council, meanwhile, has decided against reclassifying rooms. Two Labour councillors had put forward a motion urging the Liberal Democrat-controlled council’s executive to ‘remove the unnecessary bedroom classification from rooms that are really too small to be bedrooms’ and ‘ensure that any decision to evict a tenant solely because of the “bedroom tax” and arrears is the responsibility of the executive councillor for housing’. About 800 households in Cambridge are affected by the new restrictions.
A final motion, which was approved on Thursday last week following an amendment put forward by councillor Catherine Smart, executive councillor for housing, made no reference to the two measures.
On Wednesday last week, the Conservative-controlled West Lancashire Borough Council had voted against approving a motion, tabled by Labour councillor Neil Furey, which called for the local authority to refrain from starting possession proceedings against council tenants who fell behind with their rent as a direct result of the bedroom tax.