Hounslow Plans Maximum Rise in Social Housing Rents

Increase of 7.7% proposed for council tenants

Hounslow Council's headquarters at Hounslow House

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ChiswickW4.com and BrentfordTW8.com

January 11, 2024

Hounslow Council is proposing a 7.7% increase in social housing rents from this April, the maximum increase allowed by the government.

The rise will come on top of other cost increases for tenants including for heating and service charges.

A report to be presented to the council’s cabinet seeks permission to delegate authority to the Executive Director, Regeneration and Housing in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness to implement the rises.

The increase in social housing rent is calculated on the basis of CPI plus 1% in line with policy recently set out by the Social Housing Regulator in January 2024.

In February 2019, the government issued a Policy statement on rents which permitted annual rent increases on both social rent and affordable rent properties of up to CPI plus 1 percentage point from 2020, for a period of at least five years following completion of the rent reduction period as required by the Welfare and Reform Act. However, last year the maximum rise was limited to 7% to reduce cost of living pressure on tenants. Otherwise the increase would have been 11.1%

The council says that this limit, which came at a time of high inflation and rising interest rates resulted, in a reduction of funds in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

It is argued that without the maximum rent increase there would be a permanent reduction in resources which would hamper the council’s business plan for housing and reduce funds available for investment in new and existing stock.

This means that the average weekly rent in social housing across the borough will increase from £121.23 to £130.56. Rents are set based on the valuation of the property so they will vary depending on the type and location.

The report states that the council needs to cover the increased cost of services such as utilities with a higher than inflation rise. It is argued that, if services that are funded by charges do not have their costs fully covered, there would be a need to reduce service levels or tenants who don’t receive these services would end up subsidising them. Communal electricity prices are set to increase by 20% Where tenants are eligible for housing benefits, services charges that are provided as a condition of a tenancy are generally covered.

Properties on District Heating systems that do not have individual meters currently cannot be billed individually and will continue to receive a weekly charge for District Heating consumption. Gas and electricity consumption charges were increased by an 100% and 90%
respectively between 2022/23 and 2023/24 to and it is proposed that these be increased by 6.7%

Caretaking and cleaning services will also rise by 11.9% faster than the rate of inflation because of these were ‘under recovered’ in previous years.

The freehold service charge management fee will rise to £347 per property from April with reduced fees for those who receive fewer services.

There is also a 6.7% increase in garage rents for tenants, leaseholders and private lets.

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