Sunday, 6 October 2013

Consulting on setting the rent

As the largest landlord and housing provider in the city it's important for the Council to consult widely before setting the rents for Council house tenants. In 2007 the previous Council agreed to a strategy of annual rent rises of inflation plus 2.7% for the five years up to 2015. The added income supported an investment programme that is delivering Scottish Housing Quality Standards, through new bathrooms and kitchens etc. It's also contributing to plans to build new Council houses. The time has come to review that strategy and investment priorities looking forward another 5 years and considering what is reasonable, and affordable, in the short to medium term for Council tenants. This report, to the HWH Committee last month, agreed to start a consultation exercise and so yesterday saw a joint Council / Edinburgh Tenants Federation conference that began the consideration of rent levels and priorities for future investment. One of the risks to future investment is the impact of Welfare Reform and the Bedroom Tax. The Council can only use income from rent to invest in Council houses and our housing service so any reduction has a knock on effect to investment and service, not to mentions jobs and regeneration. Rent arrears are increasing and this remains a serious concern. However, it was an interesting session yesterday and the consultation will continue until we get a further report with some recommendations early next year.

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