Eviction is always last resort, claims council

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FIFE Council has flatly denied claims made by a national housing charity in a report which named and shamed the local authority for an increase in evictions.

Shelter Scotland last week reported a 71 per cent increase in the number of evictions of social tenants and said 96 evictions took place last year.

The charity also reported a 52 per cent rise increase over the last four years and described the council’s behaviour as lamentable.

But Fife Council says Shelter got its figures wrong and the number of evictions for 2010-11 was only 51.

The council also said its internal figures showed evictions rates had remained broadly stable over the last four years.

Gavin Smith, team leader for accounts and debt at Fife Council, insisted eviction was always a last resort.

He said: “We must prove we have done absolutely everything in our power to engage with the tenants and resolve the situation.

“We are not using eviction as a way of reducing rent arrears and we do everything we can to sustain tenancies.”

He added Fife Council hoped to discuss concerns about the report with Shelter Scotland.

Aileen Christie, of Fife-based homelessness charity Home4Good, said there were robust advice and representation services available in the Kingdom for anyone faced with eviction.

She said: “Our charity has represented people threatened with eviction in more than 300 court cases and none of those tenants have been evicted while we represented them.”

Ms Christie said the biggest challenge the charity faced was the impact of UK Government changes to housing benefit for private renters.

She added: “In the last week I’ve seen two people facing homelessness due to these changes.”