BARRHEAD Housing Association tenants are among the best in Scotland at paying their rent on time.

The organisation’s annual report shows just 2.8% of its tenants were behind with their payments, compared to 6.5% for East Renfrewshire as a whole and a Scottish average of 5.8%.

Thanks to new house-building projects in Barrhead and Neilston, the association has a record total of 930 homes for rent.

Last year’s total rent arrears of £120,000 was among the lowest in Scotland and represents less than £130 per tenant.

Lorraine Dallas, director of customer services at Barrhead Housing Association (BHA), said it has taken a number of measures in the last year to help tenants pay on time.

This includes the appointment of a welfare rights officer, who has brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds for cash-strapped tenants.

One householder was recently able to make a successful claim for £40,000 in unpaid benefits.

Ms Dallas added: “A personal approach is at the heart of what we do. As a result, people are more inclined to make sure they are not in arrears.

“We’re also lucky that we have a lot more tenants who are in work than the rest of the country.”

The BHA report covers the period from April 2019 to March 2020 and does not include the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Dallas said there was a coronavirus-related increase in rent arrears in October and November of 5.3%, which staff are trying to reduce.

She added: “We’ve seen a rise in rent arrears recently but that’s because people have lost their jobs.

“There are a lot of people in Barrhead who are self-employed, such as taxi drivers and hairdressers, and they have been particularly badly affected.

“But the same trend is being seen across the country.

“The average rent arrears for local authorities in the last few months was about 8.4 per cent.”

BHA has sent every tenant a booklet that offers advice if they are worried about falling behind with payments. 

This includes information on accessing foodbanks, benefits and grants.

Ms Dallas said: “Sometimes people are too proud to ask for help.

“People should speak to us if they are struggling to pay. There are packages we can put in place to help tenants with their rent.”