The study team has published it first output: an evidence review of the drivers of rent arrears in social housing, which has been written by Tony Manzi and Emma Bimpson. The data considered included analysis of: academic articles, research reports and ‘grey’ literature concerning rent arrears and landlord responses to improve rent collection. The ‘COM-B model’ (Michie et. al., 2014), which considers how behaviour is a result of the interaction between ‘capability’, ‘opportunity’ and ‘motivation’, was used as a loose framework for the analysis, with extensive reference also made to theory from social policy. The review finds that research has been consistent in identifying the key drivers of rent arrears to be a result of a complex range of processes. At the heart of the issue is the question of (‘physical’) ‘opportunity’ – with a tenant group comprising a high proportion of low income and economically inactive households. The problem of rent arrears has been accentuated by an environment where opportunities are further constrained by welfare reform, austerity and economic challenges. The drivers of rent arrears are complicated by ‘motivational’ factors (where an individual’s willingness to meet rental obligations are compromised by other priorities such as council tax, energy and food bills). Individual ‘capabilities’ (including financial literacy and budgeting skills) will also play a role, but the evidence shows that in large part tenants are keen to meet their tenancy obligations. The need for further research which can inform tenants to ‘hold on to home’ is, therefore, vital.
Michie S., Atkins L. & West R. (2014) The Behaviour Change Wheel: A Guide to Designing Interventions, 1st edn. London: Silverback