Council tenants in Dundee will have to cough up extra for rent next year to ensure properties are kept in good condition.
People living in council-owned homes will be given the chance to chose a 1.5%, 1.75% or a 2% increase, which will take effect from April 1 2022 after a consultation.
There is no option to keep the rent price the same and, if 2% is chosen, could mean a rise of as much as £108 per year for those paying the highest amounts currently.
Councillors are asked to approve increases every year — in part to ensure payments keep up with inflation.
Seven out of 10 voted for the smallest rise last year after 20% of the city’s tenants — equating to around 2,500 people — responded to a consultation.
Rising cost of maintaining properties
A council report to the neighbourhood services committee revealed property costs will increase by a projected £524,000 in the next financial year.
This is in part due to an increase in void properties caused by the pandemic.
Speaking at the committee meeting, Baillie Kevin Keenan said he didn’t have an issue with a rent increase but said the number of void properties [those unoccupied for a period of time] is a cause for concern.
Mr Keenan said the council should do more to fill them to bring in more revenue.
He said: “I think we need to reduce the number of voids that we are on.
It’s frankly not good enough.”
“There are 450 just now — we used to sit with 220 so it’s doubled.
“I’d like to see things moving reasonably quickly.
“It’s frankly not good enough to sit with that level.
“We cannot just live with things as they are.”
An amendment tabled by Mr Keenan asked councillors to agree that all savings generated by a lean service review be ringfenced.
These funds, he said, would then be spent on energy saving and climate change measures for the benefit of tenants.
Councillors voted against the amendment and the report was passed with no changes.
‘Disturbing’ numbers of empty properties
Councillor Margaret Richardson said it’s “quite disturbing” to see the number of void properties when so many people need good quality housing in the city.
She said there needs to be “due urgency” to get the properties available for tenants.
Council officers stressed work to make properties available for tenants is ongoing and that staff are “working hard” to reduce voids.
They say this involves significant repairs and other maintenance work to ensure they are of a high enough standard.
The council’s head of housing & communities, David Simpson, said this would take “a little bit of time” and the team are dealing with a backlog of tasks due to the pandemic.
The council say rent hikes are necessary to meet increasing staff, property, and IT costs which will cause a projected £770,000 deficit for 2022/23.
How much could rents increase?
All three mean a significant rise in costs for tenants.
The options are:
- 1.5% increase with a maximum rise of £1.50 per week
- 1.75% increase with a maximum rise of £1.75 per week
- 2% increase with a maximum rise of £2 per week
Following the consultation period, there will be a further report to the Policy & Resources Committee on January 24 2022 before the new rent rates are introduced.
The committee also agreed to continue improving the energy efficiency of new and current housing projects.
Methods being implemented to help the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 include improving insulation and adding motion sensor lighting.