Rent report to be discussed by Cabinet

Published 30th December 2019

Rents on council homes in Sandwell are set to rise from April 2020 as the council seeks extra cash to invest in properties and build more new homes.

The move comes after a four-year government-imposed rent cap ends, during which time councils had to reduce their council house rents by 1% year on year.

Housing chiefs are now looking to boost investment with a proposed 2% increase set for April 2020 and a subsequent 2% rise in April 2021 and 2022 respectively.

A report to next month’s cabinet on 8 January states there are currently 28,765 council tenancies in the borough and, while tenants are charged rent for 52 weeks, their rent is currently collected over 48 weeks.

The report proposes that from April 2020 that rent is collected over 52 weeks instead of the current 48. Tenants will still be able to pay over 48 weeks if they choose.

From April 2020 the average annual rent over 52 weeks would increase from £75.72 a week to £77.23, an increase of £1.51 a week. 

The report also recommends increases in some service charges with a 1.7% increase (8 pence a week over 52 weeks) for cleaning in high-rise blocks – which is in line with the Consumer Price Index – with charges for cleaning in low-rise blocks increasing by 3% (12 pence a week over 52 weeks).

Service charges for providing concierge, CCTV and control room services will also increase by 1.7%, again in line with the current Consumer Price Index.

Councillor Joanne Hadley, cabinet member for housing, said: “It is with great reluctance that we are having to look at introducing these increases in rents and some service charges.

“However, the rent cap imposed by the government during the last four years has left us with no alternative if we want to continue investing in and maintaining our existing council homes, keeping tenants safe and building new council properties.

“Under the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government guidelines we could have brought in rent increases of up to 2.7% but we have kept them as low as we could at 2%.”

A report on the proposed increases will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on 8 January.