At the start of 2019 the States was owed some £840,000, but in May this year there was £370,000 outstanding.
Director of operations, social security and inclusion Ed Ashton said this could be attributed to how the housing department ‘seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between the rightful recovery of debt and the continued support of an individual’s welfare needs’.
The extent of arrears from tenants of the Guernsey Housing Association at the end of last year was £22,600, compared to £16,600 the previous year and £24,100 in 2020.
CEO Vic Slade said that it sought to strike a balance between collecting rent and helping people sustain their tenancy.
‘Our team works closely with tenants to make sure we can offer help if they find they are struggling and we try to do that as quickly as possible,’ she said.
This could involve helping people understand if they were getting all the support to which they were entitled, pointing them towards independent help and advice, or arranging manageable repayment plans – sometimes all three.
‘It’s tough times right now for lots of people so we encourage people to speak to us if they are worried about getting into difficulties, so we can try to help,’ said Ms Slade.
Mr Ashton also said that States tenants were encouraged to make contact if they were having difficulties with their rent and they should contact their tenancy management officer.
‘There may be options available to pay rent arrears in affordable instalments, depending on personal circumstances.’
Both groups considered taking people to court a last resort.
‘Taking any sort of formal action against someone’s tenancy is only something we will consider if the various help and support we and others offer isn’t taken up and we’ve exhausted lots of attempts to resolve difficulties, which can be over several weeks,’ said Ms Slade.
Mr Ashton added: ‘The States may choose to take formal action against tenants who are in arrears, but only if the debt remains unrecoverable after a period of several weeks where multiple attempts to contact the tenants by phone and letter have been made.’