Council house tenants should pay their rents or face being kicked out of their homes, a local authority meeting has heard.
Richmondshire District councillor Jamie Cameron told a full meeting of the council that tougher action was needed over rent arrears to ensure fairness on the majority of tenants who did pay the authority.
The meeting heard work to cut council house rent arrears was proving successful, with the amount of unpaid rent falling from £179,000 in 2015/16 to £152,000 in the last financial year.
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Speaking as the chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, Cllr Cameron said the outstanding rents represented about three per cent of the authority’s council house income.
The Newsham with Eppleby ward member said: “We must chase that harder. It’s not fair on the people who pay when there are just a few naughty ones who don’t.
“I know the officers are doing everything they can, but I think we must do that bit more. Perhaps if somebody has to be kicked out, well then they have to be kicked out. You can’t possibly have people who don’t pay. That’s the way it is.”
In response, Richmond central councillor Lorraine Hodgson questioned whether the approach Cllr Cameron had suggested would create further issues.
The Putting Richmondshire First member said: “It’s not so easy to kick people out of properties when they are in arrears. With this Universal Credit a lot of people are suffering and we should be trying to find ways of supporting them to keep them in their homes.
“We’re moving the problem on to somewhere else and eventually they can apply to come back anyway. I don’t think we can say that is an answer.”
A Government spokesman said councils must attempt to help council tenants to deal with rent arrears in a number of ways before launching court action to evict them.
A spokesman for homelessness charity Shelter said: “Councils and housing associations should only use eviction for rent arrears as a last resort.”