Rent increase to fund more affordable homes

Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith
Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith
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Midlothian Council outlined plans to deliver more affordable homes for tenants at the council meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

Councillors agreed to raise housing rents by three per cent to help fund this further investment in new social housing to meet increased demand.

This increase will come into effect from April 2019 and will also go towards ensuring that existing stock is upgraded to comply with current standards for quality and energy efficiency.

The council has reached a significant milestone in surpassing 1000 new build council homes built since the start of the new social housing programme in 2006. Despite the council’s success in significantly increasing the new supply of affordable housing, the level of housing need is growing with nearly 5000 households currently on the housing list. This includes over 1000 homeless households.

Head of Housing Services, Kevin Anderson said: “The increase in rents is to address the increased demand for more affordable council housing to be built. The increases are required in addition to continued grant funding from the Scottish Government for new building. It is beneficial to agree a future rent setting strategy early in 2018 as this will directly influence sites and investment for new build council housing. In addition, tenants of new build council homes which are now over 10 years old, require certainty of the arrangements for the convergence of their rents with that of tenants of the existing housing stock.”

As part of Midlothian Council’s commitment to involving tenants and other service users in the management of housing services, it undertook a consultation on the future rent setting strategy before making a recommendation on the rent charges for the period 2019/20 to 2021/22.

This consultation revealed that 95 per cent of tenants and applicants who responded support further development of new council housing. Tenants and housing list applicants were asked to select their preferred option for annual rent increases for the next three years. They were also advised what impact each option would have for future investment in council housing in Midlothian.

An increase of three per cent was the most popular choice with 56 per cent of respondents selecting this option.

The council’s most recent Tenant Satisfaction Survey, undertaken in 2016/17, recorded that an increased majority of respondents (82 per cent) were satisfied their rent provided good value for money.

In December 2015, Midlothian Council agreed to increase council house rents by five per cent per annum for the three year period between 2016/17 and 2018/19. Consequently all council house rents will rise by five per cent from 1st April 2018.