Council housing rents in Exeter to rise by maximum amount possible

Council rents are set to rise by 7% from April

Council housing rents in Exeter are set to increase by the largest amount in years, despite concerns that people will struggle to pay.

The city council has agreed to a hike of 7% from April, which is the maximum increase possible. It will mean an average weekly increase of around £6 per property.

The council says the move is necessary after tenants received an annual 1% cut in rent between 2016 and 2020 as part of government policy.

The executive unanimously backed the rise at a meeting on 10 January, although councillor Ruth Williams asked what extra support would be made available to those who will struggle to pay their rent.

“Even though this is less than inflation, it’s still considerably more than pay rises and and benefit increases that our tenants will receive, so I think we have to anticipate that many will struggle to pay this increase and may fall into arrears,” she said.

In response, deputy chief executive Binju Ardoon said the council has funds available to help people who are in “real hardship” and that its housing service would be able to signpost other forms of support.

Explaining the 7% hike, a report said the costs of council housing services and labour are “already increasing above inflation and a reduced rent increase would lead to a reduction of service delivery.”

It added how a lower increase “would have an impact on projects which would assist tenants financially in other areas,” like retrofitting homes to reduce energy bills.

The rise will mean weekly rent for a typical two-bedroom flat owned by the council from April will rise to £86.34, which the report reveals is cheaper than other providers in the city.

It states the average weekly rents for a two-bedroom property in Exeter during 2022/23 are £99.30 per week for a comparable housing association property and £182.19 per week in the private rented sector.

Rents and service charges will rise by seven per cent, with a 12% increase in contents’ insurance to “reflect anticipated increases in premiums.”

Credit: Ollie Heptinstall, Local Democracy Reporter

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