PLANS to increase council house tenants’ rent by more than six per cent – to make the properties more energy efficient – have been revealed.
At Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, councillors will consider rent charges for 2023/24 – with an increase of 6.5 per cent being put forward for approval.
Berneslai Homes say the increase will come into effect on for all its 18,500 properties on April 3.
The increase is just under the government’s rent cap increase of seven per cent in acknowledgement of the cost-of-living crisis.
The report states the increase is proposed on the basis that additional support will be put in place for tenants who are directly affected.
It’s also hoped it will allow investment to improve the energy efficiency of homes.
In order for the council to balance its housing revenue account for the year, a 5.5 per cent rent increase would be needed.
“Not considering a rent increase of up to the maximum allowable may weaken the council’s future lobbying position with respect to any potential future funding from government,” a report said.
“The surplus generated by a rent increase of 6.5 per cent could then be considered for servicing additional borrowing of around £30m which, together with the existing resources of £7.2m, would significantly contribute towards the estimated £60m cost of bringing all properties to at least EPC C by 2030.
“From the tenants’ perspective, an increase of 5.5 per cent would represent an average increase of £4.32 whereas at 6.5 per cent, the average increase is £5.11 per week.
“The additional average rent of £0.85 per week effectively enables the creation of £30m investment to tackle EPC C targets and other issues facing the stock.”
Around two-thirds of tenants’ rents are met through either housing benefits or an element of Universal Credit.
For the remaining third who do not receive help with their rent, the council and Berneslai Homes are offering a ‘wide range of support’ to assist them through the cost-of-living crisis.
This includes discretionary housing payments, a £500,000 hardship fund and furnished tenancies.
Amanda Garrard, chief executive of Berneslai Homes, said: “We’re continuing to support our tenants through difficult times and our dedicated teams will look for every opportunity to help tenants get more money coming in and less going out so that they can afford to pay their rent and other essential bills.
“I encourage any tenant who is struggling with the cost of living to get in touch so that we can look at their circumstances and support them in the best way possible.”