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Information on the number of housing units that were empty, rented to tenants and tenancies in rent arrears for April 2020 to March 2021.

The period covered by this release (April 2020 to March 2021) was during the first year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This period saw the introduction of public health measures, including some periods of lockdown. A number of circumstances may have impacted on the figures for vacancies, lettings and rent arrears for 2020-21. For example, disruption to local authority services, disruption to employment opportunities for tenants and changes in the approach to rapid rehousing of those who were homeless. This should be kept in mind, particularly when comparing with previous years’ data.


  • There were 5,246 vacant social housing units at 31 March 2021, an increase of 21% per cent on 2018-19.
  • 2.2% of social housing units were vacant. 
  • 33% of all vacant social housing units (1,769 units) had been empty for more than 6 months at 31 March 2021.


  • There were 17,852 new lettings of social housing stock during 2020-21, a decrease of 16% on 2018-19.  Of these, 55% were from waiting lists, 21% via transfers/exchanges and 24% through priority lettings to the homeless.

Rent arrears

  • At 31 March 2021, 90,450 (39%) of social housing tenancies were in rent arrears, an increase of 17% on 2018-19.
  • 3% of tenancies had been in rent arrears for 13 weeks or more.


Social housing vacancies, lettings and arrears, April 2020 to March 2021 , file type: PDF, file size: 2 MB

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Craig McLeod

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