Tenants vandalising council homes costs £259,000

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A SCHEME to recoup repair costs from council tenants who deliberately damage their homes has been branded a flop – after less than two per cent of the cash was recovered.

Repair work costing £259,000 has been carried out on houses that have been intentionally damaged in 2013-14 but officials have revealed only £3541 – or 1.36 per cent – was recovered from tenants.

Opposition councillors say the policy is not working and expressed concern that such a “lax approach has been adopted”.

Examples of deliberate damage which are classed as “rechargeable repairs” include holes in ceilings and floors, doors or skirting boards removed, bathroom sinks and toilets smashed and light fittings torn out.

A report to the city council’s health, social care and housing committee said that out of a total 513 cases, 12 repair charges were paid in full, ten paid in part and eight instalment plans had been agreed.

Launching the scheme earlier this year, the Labour-SNP administration said “tenants who deliberately damage their homes will have to pay for repairs” and it claimed the scheme meant the council would be able to target available finance at legitimate repairs and invest in the housing stock.

Tory councillor Jason Rust said until the scheme was introduced, little effort seemed to have been made to recover repair costs even if it was clear the damage was intentional.

He said he backed the new policy, but claimed it had been ineffective in its first year of operation. And he called for a report to the next meeting of the committee to spell out why collection had been so low.

He said: “This tiny rate of recovery is absolutely shocking. We need to understand the costs of implementing this policy as well as why the recovery is so terribly poor.

Housing leader Councillor Cammy Day said the policy included “sanctions” to ensure tenants with outstanding charges were not able to move into another home.

He said: “The policy has also helped to identify vulnerable people who have needed help from our services. We continue to work with those who have been billed.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com