Demolition work to pave the way for new houses in Lochside got underway earlier this year
A two per cent increase in Council house rents – fixed for the next three years – has been approved by South Ayrshire Council following a consultation exercise that was open to all 8,000 Council tenants.
The increase is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate at August 2014 (1.5%) plus an additional 0.5% and was agreed with tenants who took part in the consultation. In practice, it will result in weekly rent increases of between £1.21 and £1.76, depending on the property rented.
The use of CPI marks a significant change from how rents were previously set, which was based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1% – this would have resulted in an increase of 3.4% per year.
The change takes account of increasing financial pressure on household budgets and aims to ensure rents are affordable for tenants, while supporting current and future investment within the Housing Business Plan.
Councillor Philip Saxton, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First, said: "We know these are challenging times for our tenants who have experienced high rent increases over the last three years – though these were, of course, agreed with tenants beforehand.
"I'm happy we're now in a position to ease that pressure slightly and protect our tenants from higher than necessary rent increases as well as ensuring we'll meet our statutory targets for housing quality, management and maintenance.
"We've worked closely with our tenants and have taken their views on board to agree the way forward for the next three years and my thanks to everyone for their input in reaching such a positive consensus."
The agreed 2% rise will also apply to lock-up rents, garage site rents, garden maintenance charges, communal heating and amenity charges between 2015/16-2017/18.
In addition, Councillors approved the housing revenue budget of £29.2 million and the housing capital budget of £20.4 million for 2015/16.
The capital budget provides the money to ensure tenants have the quality of homes they deserve – and that all applicable Council houses continue to comply with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard – and pays for the modernisation of and improvements to current housing stock.
It also helps fund new-build housing projects such as the 58 new Council houses at Lochside in Ayr.
The latest capital programme also includes monies for a new post to ensure effective, in-house quality checking of housing repairs, maintenance and modernisation work carried out by external contractors.
"We've listened to our tenants regarding the quality control procedures for housing work", continued Councillor Saxton, "and we'll now bring this process in-house to give them the confidence and assurance they want. This new way of working will make sure best value is achieved in all housing works and that information is passed directly to the tenants, who are the people that matter. I've no doubt this will make a positive difference.
"Our aim is to provide our tenants with quality, affordable housing and we will continue to work with our tenants to achieve that on an ongoing basis."