Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Yorkshire’s biggest council has written off more than a million pounds of rent owed by the tenants of their council houses.

Leeds City Council say around 2,500 tenants who cannot pay, or cannot be traced by the authority, owe around £1.2 million.

Rents are written off when the council cannot find a tenant, if they cannot afford to pay or if the amount owed is deemed too small to be worth chasing.

The “cash-strapped” council bosses in Leeds have written off more than the money owed in unpaid housing rent in just 12 months when council documents show that a total of £1.27m in ‘irrecoverable’ arrears run up by former tenants has been wiped from the slate through the 2012-13 financial year.

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Councillor Peter Gruen, the Labour-run council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, warned that the Government’s new ‘universal credit’ benefits system could send rent arrears in the city spiralling.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “This could be a car crash.”

Universal credit will combine a range of benefit payments – including housing benefit – in a single monthly handout.

At present, council and housing association tenants claiming housing benefit have it paid directly to their landlords.

One industry expert has be quoted as saying: “private landlords have been under the direct payments regime for many years now and have had to adapt. Few private landlords are in a position to write off rent arrears on a regular basis like this and I would expect councils to be able to manage their properties in a more professional manner.”

Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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