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Coatbridge man faces eviction after bedroom tax puts him in rent arrears

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 22:22 GMT on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013.

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The letter from North Lanarkshire Council.
IT HAS been alleged that North Lanarkshire Council are issuing eviction notices to local tenants, who have suddenly entered rent arrears as a result of the imposition of the under-occupancy charge.

As part of the new welfare changes, those who under occupy their property by one bedroom will  see their housing benefit or local housing allowance slashed by 14%, and those under-occupying their properties by two or more bedrooms will have their benefit cut 25%. 

One Coatbridge resident has told Cumbernauld Media that because he seen his benefit slashed – meaning a £50 rent arrears has arisen.

The man wished to remain anonymous but he told Cumbernauld Media: "I felt frightened and continue to feel frightened. When I received the letter, my first reaction was shock that this could happen in this century, over £50; and then the realisation that homelessness is now inevitable

“I hope the MP's enjoy their pay rise paid for by the pain, mental strain and food straight from the tables of the sick and disabled living in this country."

The Coatbridge resident received a North Lanarkshire Council’s Coatbridge’s Housing and Social Services office, dated 19th May 2013, only a couple of days ago, and immediately approached the official NO2BEDROOMTAX campaign, in Scotland.

“North Lanarkshire Council are the first council to send out ’eviction letters’ to tenants who are in arrears due to the bedroom tax,” a spokesperson for the campaign told Cumbernauld Media.

“This letter was sent to a tenant who had no arrears until the bedroom tax was implemented.  The tenant is a single man who has suffered from mental health problems for most of his live.  He has asked for a move to a smaller house but there is no suitable accommodation available for him.

“The tenant came to the No2BedroomTax Campaign and is now taking legal advice.”

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The letter is written by Jamie Pettigrew, a Coatbridge Service Delivery Manager, and details the subject of the letter to be a “FINAL DEMAND”, adding: This letter is notification that North Lanarkshire Council will be raising proceedings for possession of the dwelling house… due to outstanding rent arrears of £50.10 at 12/05/2013.

“In addition to the outstanding arrears balance detailed above the records also show a balance of £81.00 due in respect of rechargeable items.

“I can advise that I am required by law to serve a notice on you before starting court action. This notice will warn you that the Council will take taken action to re-possess your house at any time during a 6 month period, starting from the date in the notice. In terms of paragraph 1 of Part 1 Schedule 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, action can be raised on the following grounds

  • Rent lawfully due from tenant has not been paid

This action can, however, be avoided, if you make contact with your Housing Advisor immediately to:

  • agree a reasonable plan for future payments
  • receive help with housing benefit and any other financial assistance if eligible 
  • advice on debt management

“If I do not hear from you, or you do not clear the arrears, you will leave me no alternative but to instigate legal action. If legal action is taken you will be charged expenses of action up to £289.70.”

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