Nearly £40,000 of additional rent arrears were amassed by Douglas Council housing tenants during the most recent lockdown.

The figures were revealed in a written reply to a question by Councillor Devon Watson last week.

Chair of the authority’s housing and property committee Claire Wells provided him with the figures which showed that overall, the number of accounts in arrears has increased by 5.7%.

She also reported that the biggest impact has been on those with arrears of less than £1,000, which has gone from 334 accounts (or 14.6% of the council’s tenants) to 463 accounts (20.3% of tenants).

The total value of all arrears has increased by £36,419.06 - from £136,073.01 to £172,492.07 - which equates to a rise of approximately 26.77%.

The highest proportion of rent arrears remains those owing less than £500, accounting for 12.7% of tenants (290 tenants) before the March lockdown and 17.1% of tenants [390 tenants] on April 9.

Mrs Wells said that housing officers have continued to review all rent accounts weekly, and where appropriate have tried to make contact with tenants to see if assistance can be offered.

She added that to date, 53 tenants have advised that they are keeping cash to pay when restrictions are lifted and the counter service is available.

Mrs Wells continued: ’It is important to note that figures shown in March 2021 are still showing higher arrears than a normal year, this due to the fact that tenants were still recovering from the impact of the first lockdown in March 2020 and the short circuit-breaker in January 2021.’

Mr Watson has previously called for the extension of emergency Covid-19 powers which prevented landlords from evicting tenants over unpaid rent.