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Ascent Enters Social Housing Sector To Target Rent Arrears

New Service Set To Help Social Landlords Improve Income Streams In Times Of Increasing Difficulty And Reduce Evictions


By David Shirt

An organisation which helps UK homeowners get back on track with missed mortgage payments has launched a new service for the social housing sector which aims to tackle late rental payments and help reduce tenant evictions.
National external field counselling business, Ascent, is confident that its new service will significantly increase recovery levels on defaulted rent and provide local authorities and housing associations with cost savings compared to how they currently deal with late payments.

The launch follows widespread concern amongst local authorities and housing associations that the Government’s new welfare reforms, which include paying housing benefit direct to tenants rather than landlords, will have a dramatic impact on rent arrears.

According to a survey earlier this year by the National Housing Federation (NHF), registered providers expect rent arrears to rise on average by 51 per cent as a result of the changes - equating to £245 million across the sector. The NHF’s study found that many housing associations thought the changes would make it harder for them to meet their loan covenants.

Established in 2009, Ascent is the UK’s largest field agency operating in the mortgage sector. Ascent is instructed by some of the largest financial institutions and expects to conduct over 40,000 mortgage cases this year.
Niall Gilhooley, chief executive at Ascent, said: "Rent arrears in the social housing sector are clearly an area of widespread concern. The impact of the Government’s welfare reforms is already proving significant and the problem seems destined to get much worse.

"Our move into the rented accommodation sector is a natural and seamless follow on from all our work in the homeowner sector as the work is identical, as are regulatory, compliance and best practice issues. Above all, the objectives are the same: restoring regular payments to an acceptable level and keeping people in their homes wherever possible."
Commenting on the launch of the new product, Niall said: "Although increased rent default levels within the social housing sector are highly likely, we are confident that the issue of increasing serious arrears and evictions can be tackled successfully with early and specialist intervention. 
"Our service will be hugely beneficial to housing associations and local authorities and we are the ideal partner for landlords, as we have proven in the mortgage sector.

"Because this is a specialist focus for our business we are confident that we can carry out home visits more cost effectively than other organisations which means we can help landlords not only stabilise their income, but also allow them to focus their resources on improving services in other areas."
For more information about the service, contact Niall Gilhooley on 0114 274 4251.