​Regulator questions social housing rent increases

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The Scottish Housing Regulator is calling for a debate on annual above inflation rent increases in the social housing sector.

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13th March 2014 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Automatic annual rent increases could be making the social housing sector unaffordable to financially squeezed families according to the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Its chief executive Michael Cameron said many Scottish social housing landlords now base their business plans on assumed annual rent increases above inflation at a time when many tenants’ incomes are being squeezed, not least through the impact of welfare reform.

Cameron was speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference in Glasgow and asked if it is sustainable for landlords to increase rents year on year above inflation.

The relationship between the rent paid and the quality of their homes and the services they get is hugely important to tenants. We look for landlords to pursue value for money vigorously

Speaking ahead of his speech he said he recognised that there is a real tension between affordability and landlord viability.

He added: “The relationship between the rent paid and the quality of their homes and the services they get is hugely important to tenants. We look for landlords to pursue value for money vigorously.”

Cameron questioned whether social landlords are happy to allow costs to tenants to climb above inflation year on year and if a by-product of doing so is locking increasing numbers of tenants into a reliance on benefits.

He said there is now a need for a national debate on the issue to ensure increases are sustainable.

Alan Ferguson, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, said: “CIH Scotland very much welcomes the regulator’s call for a national discussion over how Scotland’s social landlords keep rents affordable for tenants. 

“We know there are myriad pressures on landlords’ finances in the current climate but this has to be balanced against the intense and increasing pressure on tenants.”