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Council not planning to hire debt collectors to bring down rent arrears

97% of arrears owed to Louth County Council by social housing occupants is 12 weeks or more overdue, but the local authority says it does not plan to reintroduce debt collectors.

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The Mid-Louth Civic Services Centre in Ardee. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley Photography.

Louth County Council say they have no intention to outsource debt collection in the county as a method of reducing the vast rent arrears owed to the local authority by social housing occupants.

As of January 1st 2018, Louth County Council were owed €5,259,977 in social housing arrears. On September 30th this year, that figure stood at €4,379,873.

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However, almost 97% of that figure represents arrears of 12 weeks or more.

A total of 1,541 accounts remain in arrears leaving several hundred accounts still not in a payment plan or any sort.

“The arrears figure is substantial [but] it has actually gone down €800,000 in the last 12 months,” Director of Services for Housing Joe McGuinness said. “We now have over 1,000 households in payment plans. We’re down to a much smaller number of non-compliant households.

Independent councillor Jim Tenanty posed a question about whether a debt collection agency could be appointed by the council to help collect arrears.

Calling the oustanding arrears figure “colossal”, Tenanty suggested that if arrears was collected on a commission basis, it would be a huge help.

However, McGuinness said such a move wasn’t necessary at the current time.

“We could outsource debt collection. It’s not as productive as people think,” he replied. “Our arrears figure has gone down in the last seven months and we’re happy with that.

“In reality, we’d prefer to address it ourselves.”

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