Shock reaction to council rents hike

Victorian Houses in Colwyn Street, The Mounts.
Victorian Houses in Colwyn Street, The Mounts.

Councils and housing associations say they will try to help support any struggling tenants facing new rent increases.

But they have said the extra money paid will be reinvested into offering a better service for tenants.

However, some council house tenants fear the increase will mean they will struggle to pay their bills.

Cllr Alison Wiley, portfolio holder for finance at Kettering Council, said: “I think some of our tenants on tight budgets are going to find it difficult.

“We will try to mitigate the problem as much as we can to our tenants.

“The tenants forum have backed the proposal and I take my hat off to them.”

Corby has 4,840 council homes in its borough, with tenants set to have to pay an 8.01 per cent increase.

Cllr Bob Eyles, lead member for housing at Corby Council, said: “An increase of rental income of 8.01 per cent has been agreed in line with the Government’s rent restructuring policy.

“Any steer away from this rent convergence policy would have significant financial implications and therefore the increase is vital to ensure we can continue to provide the housing services that our tenants require.”

Mo Baker, head of customer services at Wellingborough Homes, said: “As a not-for-profit landlord the rents we charge cover a range of services.

“We offer all our tenants help to manage their money and would urge anyone concerned about the increases to talk to us. We know these are tough times for everyone, and we can help make sure you are receiving the right benefits.”

Spire Homes in Rushden will raise its rents on April 2 by 6.1 per cent.

Letters were sent out to their residents recently informing them of the increase.

Lynne Lund, who is on the Kettering Tenant’s Forum representing the Highfields area, said: “When I first heard the proposed increase I was shocked.

“But the money will be reinvested into the service to help tenants, and I don’t think people fully understand that.

“A lot of the power is out of ours and the council’s hands, with central government setting the increase.

“But if we hadn’t seen such a rise the council might not be able to carry out repairs and maintainence works for the tenants.

“We have a great relationship with the council and they provide a good service.”

COUNCIL TENANTS’ VIEWS

Many council house tenants have been left worrying for the future in light of the rent increases.

Jason Brown, 42, of Lilac Place, Kettering, said: “I’m really frustrated with the increase.

“The council just keep on taking and give nothing back.

“I’ve been waiting for them to do works on my house to remove mould for half a year now.”

Rob Warwick, 59, of Weekley Glebe Road, Kettering, said: “It doesn’t affect me too much at the moment because I’m unemployed but I’m only looking for part-time work so I think I might struggle to pay the increase.

“It’s a really high increase. I don’t think many residents will be happy about it.”

PRIVATE RENT

But the private rental market in the north of the county is seeing an upward trend, with estate agents saying it is buoyant with prices stabilising.

Kerry Simpson, lettings manager at the Corby branch of Simpson West, who rent properties in the county, said: “The market has stabilised at the moment.

“We saw a big increase in rents in January last year, with a massive demand and not enough properties.

It seems to have evened out from then, but the market is so unpredictable.

“It’s all about demand. We’ve had a lot of interest in three-bedroom properties with garages in Oakley Vale, and as such, their prices goes up.”

Anna Falina, head of rentals at Kettering based estate agent, Keeble and Co, said: “The market is buoyant at the moment.

“Sales are going really well, and we haven’t really seen an increase in rents.

“Our landlords are sensible. They know its a difficult economic time out there at the moment.”