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Local authority will 'help tenants' in Caithness with below inflation council house rent increases

By David G Scott

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A Highland Council committee today (January 20) approved a below inflation rise in council house rents for 2022/23 to help tenants "during challenging financial times".

It was also agreed that this percentage increase (1 per cent) will be applied to all residential Housing Revenue Account (HRA) rents and service charges and to gypsy/traveller site pitches.

The report agreed by Housing and Property Committee (HPC) members at today’s meeting confirmed that one of the smallest rent increases in a number of years would generate sufficient income to fund council house management and maintenance in 2022/23.

Council house tenants at Kennedy Terrace in Wick can expect a below inflation rise in their rent this year. Picture: DGS
Council house tenants at Kennedy Terrace in Wick can expect a below inflation rise in their rent this year. Picture: DGS

Members also took into account the affordability impacts for individuals of any increase and balanced that against the future investment needs likely to be required to fund the council’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon targets for council housing.

Vice chair of the HPC, Cllr Mike Finlayson, said: “We recognise that many tenants are going to be facing higher costs of living and energy bills in the coming year.

“We listened to the responses we received through consultation on rent levels. This small rent increase in 2022/23 will allow us to maintain current levels of service whist minimising the financial impact on council tenants.”

Tenant consultation was based on options of a 1 per cent or a 1.5 per cent rent increase and 63 per cent of those who responded said that they would prefer to see the 1 per cent rent increase option, with 37 per cent preferring a 1.5 per cent increase.

Cllr Finlayson added: “The consultation information highlighted that a 1 per cent rent increase would result in maintaining services and completing agreed capital works and I am pleased that is the option which has been agreed today.

“Feedback from tenants also indicated support for prioritising capital and cyclical maintenance and for increasing consultation with tenants on priorities for future investment in their homes.”

Council leader Margaret Davidson.
Council leader Margaret Davidson.

Council leader, Margaret Davidson, said: “I am proud of the work done by our officers and the decision today to keep our rent rise this year to 1 per cent.

“This is the smallest rent increase I have seen for many years and it is a reflection on the very real pressures on household budgets this year and our hope to keep prices down as much as we can.”

She added: “We have excellent welfare services (0800 090 1004) and along with a minimum rent increase we hope to help out as many tenants as possible.”

Rent affordability is a key factor in setting rents. The council’s tenant satisfaction survey, reported to Committee in September 2021 showed that 89.9 per cent of our tenants responding stated that they considered their rent represented good value for money, compared to a national average of 84.1 per cent.

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