Almost 8 million Russians are malicious defaulters for utility bills
According to the Federal Bailiff Service (FSSP), there are 7.9 million utility debtors in Russia. At the same time, the debt of the population is growing – following an increase in housing and communal services tariffs. In the first quarter of this year it amounted to 900 billion rubles. What to do with such an army of debtors and the non-payments hanging on them?
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the population to pay for housing and communal services that are increasing year by year. This is clearly evidenced by the FSSP data. Over the year, the total debt of individuals for housing and communal services increased by 72 billion rubles, while in 2022 it increased by 56.6 billion. At this rate, in a year it will probably “break through” a trillion.
As the results of a Popular Front survey show, almost 8% of Russians have utility debts. And 10% of homeowners do not pay utility bills on time. Management companies (MCs) barely have time to go to the courts so that measures can be taken against debtors. At the same time, in a number of regions, even with minimal debt, the electricity in the apartment is immediately turned off. And the owner plunges into the Middle Ages – without television and communications…
However, those who are in debt to their management companies explain the situation simply. About 80-85% of debtors cite the main reason for the occurrence of debt as a decrease in real income against the backdrop of rising costs of goods and services, as well as the emergence of a difficult life situation.
In general, the situation with housing and communal services debt is not just bad, but tends to get worse. But it does not have a systemic solution.
According to the utility workers themselves, it is necessary to simplify the mechanism of collections from negligent citizens. The ideal option for them is to collect overdue payments through collection agencies – with whom, as you know, they are not to be trifled with. That is, to collect utility debts from the Ministry of Construction and transfer them to the Central Bank for regulation. And then this structure knows what to do.
An expert in the field of housing and communal services, an analyst of the ONF “Housing and Urban Environment” thematic platform Pavel Sklyanchuk believes that 8 million debtors for housing and communal services is a very large figure; in terms of number in the debt structure, it is second only to debtors on bank loans.
– He may not pay even for years. But the management company is obliged to apply to the magistrate for a court decision and initiate enforcement proceedings. And then the bailiffs will definitely knock on the debtor’s door.
– Impose interim measures: seize property, restrict travel abroad… And according to the law, utilities can be turned off for a defaulter. But, in fact, only light, since drainage, heat and gas are prohibited from being turned off.
– This is the most extreme means, but it is also provided for by law. If the owner has not paid for utilities for several years and has accumulated a large debt. It must be said that the collection of debts for utilities in our country is very lenient, which is why billions of rubles are hanging.
– For example, when the debtor’s money arrives in his bank account, allow the bailiffs to withdraw part of the funds to pay off the debt. But today such a mechanism only applies to alimony payers.
Meanwhile, utility debts are accumulating. Some of them become irrevocable. For example, when the owner of an apartment changes or if the owner died and he has no heirs.
There is another scenario. A person with a large debt begins to repay it gradually, in small parts. But the parts are so small that the debt does not decrease, but increases. The management company must go to court again…
It’s a shame that conscientious Russians suffer because of defaulters: pensioners, citizens with low incomes. They, no matter what the circumstances, pay for housing and communal services on time. But in the end, the management company, due to malicious debtors, does not raise funds for general maintenance, cuts costs and saves.
– I agree that many homeowners have objective difficulties. However, there are also many wealthy citizens who do not pay out of principle, out of a sense of permissiveness. The state should pursue a more stringent policy towards these individuals. As for socially vulnerable citizens, there is targeted support in Russia. For example, for disabled people there is a 50 percent discount. For the poor, after paying for services in full, part of the funds is returned if more than 22% of income is spent on utilities.