By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Ashfield District Council is the latest Nottinghamshire authority planning to increase rent on its council homes.
The council says it needs to make the increase to deliver improvements to properties across the district.
From April this year, residents will pay £78.93 per week over a 48-week basis – a £3.11 increase on 2021/22 amounting to £149.28 annually.
The increase falls in line with the Government’s policy for rental rises in the upcoming year, with councils allowed to raise rents by a maximum of 4.1 per cent.
Earlier this week, Newark and Sherwood District Council said it plans to increase rents by more than £150 a year or an average of £3.18 per week.
Ashfield’s planned rise comes after a survey of tenants found more than two-thirds of people living in the council’s properties supported a rent increase to improve their standard of living.
Improvements will focus on roofs, windows, heating, cleaning and security, with Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), leader of the council, saying the authority has been “honest” with residents about the need to raise fees.
He said council rents have had a one per cent reduction year-on-year, leaving the authority’s housing and revenue account in a “precarious position”.
Council documents state about 71.87 per cent of tenants receive help with their rent, either through pension support, housing benefit or Universal Credit, and will “not be subject to paying the full increase themselves”.
And Cllr Zadrozny says that, if the authority wants to address concerns raised by residents, the council “has to do this”.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Residents want us to invest more into it, they want new roofs, windows, better heating, better cleaning regimes in all the courts.
“We’ve been honest with them that it will mean an increase in their rent, and I think around 68 per cent of them agreed with it when the consultation came back.
“The majority of our tenants don’t pay anyway, it either comes from pensionable income or housing benefits so it won’t actually affect them.
“Soon we will have built 100 new council homes and implemented better security on the courts and regular cleaning regimes.
“But if we want to make our properties nicer, the council has to do this.”
The authority is also expected to increase rental fees for council-owned garages across the district.
Documents state occupancy rates for garages has remained “constant” over the past 12 months, with little demand for garages currently sitting empty but high demand for those already occupied.
The council is proposing a separate 4.1 per cent increase for the garages, which it expects will generate £10,000 on the currently-occupied sites.
Under this increase, Band A garages will rise by 27p to £6.82, Band B garages by 30p to £7.62 and B and C garages by 33p to £8.42 each week.
And communal heating charges in council properties are also set for a five per cent rise from April this year.
The authority’s cabinet is expected to approve the increases when it meets on Tuesday (January 25).