Tenants were warned last year that rents will increase annually until at least 2016 to meet the Government’s requirement to make the cost of housing association and public sector rents more equal. The increase also helps the council to pay off a £72.9m low-interest loan that the council was compelled to take out by central government to take full financial control of its homes.
Whilst the council had no choice but to do this, it does enable the council to invest in existing and new homes more effectively. As a result, it is part way through an investment programme that will see new homes built in Pettiver Crescent and improvements to properties elsewhere in the borough.
Many of these improvements will make council properties easier to heat and therefore cheaper to run. Not increasing rents would mean that it would not be possible for these works to continue. If approved, the rise will also mean that over £13million will be avoided in future interest payments, meaning more cash will be available to reinvest in housing.
Cllr Leigh Hunt, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Sustainable Inclusive Communities, said:
"While we understand that a further rent increase will be hard for many people, we must set rents at a level that will keep our loan repayments down and allow us to reinvest in council homes. Our rents are still significantly below market rents in the private sector, which are also rising. "Any rise will be unwelcome, but we have set the rents in a way that will minimise the impact on our tenants over the next few years. "Tenants who are experiencing difficulty paying their rent can make an appointment with a benefits advisor to assess eligibility for Housing Benefit by calling (01788) 533433, or contact their housing officer on their usual number."
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