Housing provider Bield has defended its rent increases after one Fife tenant described the company as “robbers without a mask”.
The firm, which specialises in homes for older people, said the rises had followed extensive consultation with residents and “will not lead to more income for Bield”.
Increases will be phased over three years, said Bield, and would depend on a number of actors including property size.
The firm said feedback from residents had shown support for including charges for services such as equipment and property maintenance under rent payments.
Ballingry resident Karen Harrower said the monthly rent for her one-bedroom home had gone up by more than £36 to £383 a month.
Ms Harrower, 55, said she was placed in a supported Bield property after failing to secure council accommodation and was paying for services, such as smoke alarm alerts and assistance cords, that she does not need.
“Every year the rent went up £8 a month but this time it’s gone up £36 a month. It’s a massive increase,” she said.
“I phoned them up thinking they had made a printing error, but they said there had been no error.
“I have some savings after my mum passed away, but you shouldn’t have to use your savings to survive.”
Across Fife, Bield has 14 developments – a total of 341 properties.
Charlie Dickson, interim director of housing at Bield, said the decision to increase rental charges had been taken after extensive research, surveys and focus groups with tenants.
“The feedback we received showed our tenants want a criteria-based, equitable system which improves consistency and transparency and takes into account property size, while also helping to reduce the number of added service charges,” he said.
“It is important to stress this new rent model will not lead to more income for Bield. The decision to change our rates structure is not about making money but rather a direct response to what tenants themselves wanted to see.
“With changes of this nature, some tenants will benefit and some, regrettably, will see increases to their rent costs. To limit any increases, the changes will be phased over a three-year period.”
He said letters had been sent to all tenants explaining the process and the firm would be happy to meet any of them to discuss the reasons for the change and any concerns they have.