Tenants face rise in rent

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TENANTS are facing a rent rise as part of Government plans.

People who lease properties from East Durham Homes, along with council houses in Durham and Weardale, will see the average rent rise by seven per cent under proposals.

But while the rise will generate another £3.4million for Durham County Council, the council will lose £1.6million in Government payments and a further £2million which has been lost in supported borrowing.

The increase would mean an addition charge of £3.87 per week for the average tenant, upping it to £59.37.

The council is also proposing a baseline increase of seven per cent in garage rents, with adjustments over the next three years in order to harmonise charges in the three areas.

Coun Clive Robson, cabinet member for housing, said: “The council is responsible for setting rents for its tenants each year, but these rents are based on a formula set by Government.

“While the increase in rents will generate almost £3.4million of income for the council, £1.6million has to go to the Government and a further £2million has been lost through a reduction in supported borrowing.

“The proposed increase this year is in line with recommendations by national Government and will mean our rents are still below the average rent levels for the private sector and registered social landlords.

“It is also important to remember that a significant proportion of our tenants receive housing benefit and, therefore, a helping hand to meet their rent payments.”

The council has a housing stock of just under 19,000 properties and about 3,500 garages.

In the East Durham and Wear Valley, properties are managed by Arms Length Management Organisations – EDH and Dale and Valley Homes. In Durham City, council houses and garages are managed in-house by the county council.

A spokeswoman for EDH said: “If any tenants are worried about paying their rent or are not sure what benefits they are entitled to, we have a welfare benefit and debt advice officer who can carry out a free benefit check and give advice on money, debt and budgeting.”

She added anyone who would like more information can call 0800 032 0835 or 0191 518 5497.

The report to cabinet, which will discuss the report on Wednesday, also outlines a £17.99million Housing Revenue Account capital programme for 2011/12 to modernise and refurbish council homes.

This figure does not include Decent Homes funding, which is yet to be announced by Government.