Sheriff officer turned away from council flats says: “fair enough, you’ve caught me unawares here”
By Anttoni James Numminen
Living Rent members (L) and tenant Siobhan (R) Photo courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen.
Living Rent members in Aberdeen successfully prevented an eviction from taking place on Nelson Steet in Aberdeen, around 9am this morning.
The city council had informed one of its tenants, Siobhan M., that she was to be evicted for falling in arrears of rent payments from 2019, almost three years ago.
Evictions were temporarily banned by the Scottish government during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the ban was lifted last year.
Around ten members and organisers of the Living Rent union, which seeks to protect and advance the rights of tenants, gathered outside the property shortly before the eviction was due to start.
Calls were made to local councillors, including Sandra Macdonald and Michael Hutchison, to try and prevent the eviction from taking place.
As the council’s Sheriff officer turned up to enact the eviction, he was confronted by the activists gathered outside, who told the officer why they were there, and their contact with councillors.
After a brief discussion, the Sherriff officer said: “fair enough, you’ve caught me unawares here”. It is understood the Sherriff officer was subsequently instructed to not carry out the eviction warrant, after which he departed.
Living Rent speaks to the Sherriff officer. Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen.
Councillor Michael Hutchison, who represents the George St and Harbour ward in which the eviction was set to happen, confirmed to The Gaudie that he had spoken with the Council’s Chief Officer who confirmed the eviction had been paused.
He added: “I'm not entirely sure what's happened in this situation but I'm hopeful something can be agreed between the tenant and the council.”
Speaking to The Gaudie, Siobhan who was previously a nursing assistant, said she was very pleased with the outcome: “It’s very good because I want to keep my flat”
Pictured: Siobhan M.
She added that she was “unhappy” with the way the council had acted, as “it’s unfair that they have been trying to evict me since 2019”.
Also attending the anti-eviction gathering was 3rd-year politics and IR student Esme Houston, who commended Living Rent for preventing the eviction at such short notice.
Houston, who is also standing for election in this year’s local elections for the Green Party, added: “This shouldn’t be happening, especially in a council flat."
Cllr Sandra Macdonald, who is a member of the council's ruling administration and also represents the ward, told The Gaudie: “Evictions are, and always should be, the course of last resort for any landlord. I’m pleased that this morning’s eviction was averted and I would encourage any Aberdeen City Council tenant who is experiencing difficulties in these tough times to engage with their housing officer as soon as possible. There is help and support for those who need it.”
According to Living Rent, evicting someone can end up costing a council up to £19,000 with research from Shelter suggesting that in 2021, evictions cost the taxpayer almost £30m.
A council spokesperson said later: “We will continue to work with the tenant to agree repayment terms.”