Sunderland council housing tenants braced for inflation-busting rents rise

City chiefs have confirmed and inflation-busting rise in rents on council homes from April.

Sunderland City Council became a registered provider of social housing in November 2019, and as of December 2021 had 50 tenants in place.

Bosses have now unveiled plans to increase rent payments by 4.1% from April, which will mean a weekly rise of between £3 and £5.50 for tenants, depending on their existing rate.

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The move is in line with government guidance, which states social landlords are currently allowed to increase rent in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which stood at 3.1% in September, plus 1%, each year.

City Hall, Sunderland
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Cllr Kevin Johnston, cabinet member for Dynamic City, insisted the rent increase would support plans for providing social housing.

He said: “The council welcomed its first tenant in September 2020 and has seen a steady increase in the number of council homes and tenants since.

“All council homes are set at affordable rent levels in accordance with government guidance.

“Due to wider service pressures and their financial implications, including things such as repairs and maintenance, capital programme city fund provision and customer service needs, it is proposed to increase rents by CPI plus 1%.”

A report on rents prepared earlier this year noted “local market context and wider cost pressures in providing new homes and the housing service”.

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It added smaller increases were “considered and rejected as the annual rent increase needs to align and ensure that repairs and maintenance costs, housing management costs etc are adequately funded [sic]”.

The 2022/23 rent increase will be effective from April 4, with rent increase letters set to be issued to all council tenants detailing their new rent levels by March 4.

The government is also expected to provide extra funding for tenants receiving housing benefit and Universal Credit, which is likely to cover all or part of the rent increase for many tenants.

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Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wilson, claimed the firm was aware of the challenges facing tenants from inflation and rising heating costs but had been left with no choice but to boost the bills.

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