HOUSING associations in Glasgow have said they will consider legal action if housing provider Serco return properties with asylum seekers still living there.

Concerns were raised last week about the possibility of the Home Office contractor returning homes housing asylum seekers in the city with occupiers inside.

Serco are currently attempting to carry out lock-change evictions on around 300 people across Glasgow, with their contract due to finish in September.

Housing bosses are now worried about the prospect of being charged with the care of as many as 300 vulnerable people in a matter of months.

David Bookbinder, director of Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, said: "Invariably, the terms of our contract are that properties come back vacant.

"If that were to happen we would have to handle the situation as sensitively as possible, and if looked like it might we would look to take legal action.

"We are monitoring this as there is no provision for this - the numbers here are scary. It would be the trickiest of situations, as housing associations are not legally allowed to help someone with no leave to remain.

"But if it got anywhere near that, I don't think eviction would be on the associations' minds."

Interim interdicts have been approved at Glasgow Sheriff Court, preventing Serco from carrying out lock-change evictions during a court appeal on the matter.

Third sector and campaign groups are working with politicians to ensure those with active cases are flagged to the Home Office to ensure they are not evicted.

Some charities believe a significant number of those receiving eviction notices fall into this group, but criticised a lack of action from housing associations on the evictions.

One worker said: "Serco has more or less disengaged from these service users and it is charities and the third sector that has in effect been supporting them for months whilst at no point has any registered social landlord that we are aware of offered any form of support to these very vulnerable people in their properties.

"Registered social landlords do not have anything to worry about, they will still get their rent paid by Serco and the charitable sector will continue to support the people that are in their properties."

MP Chris Stephens has backed a public sector approach to contracts providing asylum seeker housing would be the best way forward.

Chris Stephens MP: “Serco’s plan to flee the city leaving a vacuum of accountability and neglecting their responsibilities is a very real concern.

"Earlier this year, Serco restarted their inhumane lock change programme against what they are inaccurately and callously calling “failed” asylum seekers, strengthening the arguments that a public sector bid for these contracts would have been the best way forward.

"If successful, Serco intends to evict vulnerable people engaging in harassment and intimidation to render them immediately street homeless through callous, traumatising and possibly still unlawful lock change."

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Office takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live extremely seriously.

“We have and will continue to work closely with local authorities and partners to ensure that those who have no right to be in the UK leave their accommodation in a safe and secure way.

“We have been working with partners in Glasgow to ensure that those at risk of potential eviction are aware that support continues to be available provided they take reasonable steps to leave the UK or show they are unable to do so.”

Serco have said they will not discuss hypothetical scenarios ahead of the end of their contract.

Council says hands tied over temporary housing for asylum seekers

Glasgow City Council has said it is ‘extremely limited’ in the amount of support it can provide to asylum seekers facing eviction in Glasgow. 
Around 300 people living in the city are awaiting their fate after it was announced last month that they face forced removal from their homes at the hands of Home Office contractor Serco. 
Those supporting refugees have been campaigning over the past four weeks to slow and stop these evictions, saying the city could face a ‘humanitarian crisis’. 
Appeals have been made to the Home Office to call off the evictions, with some suggesting those affected could be given amnesty to stay in the UK. 
Elsewhere, third sector groups have approached the council for support in housing refugees affected. 
Some of those given support have been passed to the city council, with a significant number of those faced with eviction indicating they have leave to remain or an active asylum case. 
However, officials from the local authority say there is a limit as to how much help they can provide. 
A council spokesman said: “Glasgow continues to welcome asylum seekers and refugees. 
“Legally, the council is extremely limited in the direct support it is permitted to provide asylum seekers with no leave no remain.”
While the process of providing temporary accommodation in shelters and homes across the city has begun for some refugees, others will not be housed. 
In addition to the help offered, council bosses stressed that not all of those affected will choose to stay in the city following any potential eviction, and may not apply for homelessness status with them. 
However, the council stressed it cannot process application for those with no leave to remain, 
The council spokesman added: “Where people have been granted leave to remain, who wish to stay in the city and have contacted the council to make a homeless application, then our specialist team will have begun the process of finding them accommodation. 
“This will also be the case should any of the current refugees in Serco accommodation, with leave to remain, wish to live in Glasgow.”