Council tenants will face rent rises of 4.1% from April under proposals being put to Kirklees Council’s Cabinet next week.
Councillors will be asked to approve proposals to introduce rent increases and change the frequency of rent payments when the Cabinet meets on December 14.
The move comes as the council, which took over the former Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing in April 2021, is already more than halfway through a multi-million-pound improvement plan aimed at making tenants’ homes safer.
Following a period of consultation with tenants and other stakeholders, members are being asked to give their approval to a £2.91 average weekly rent increase. The rise would place an average Housing Revenue Account (HRA) tenant’s weekly rent at £74.09 – an increase of 4.1%.
Weekly garage rents and other service charges for 2022/23 will also be subject to the same percentage increase, of between 2p and 84p a week. There will also be rises in Extra Care Services including Intensive Housing Management, which will go up between 98p and £2.50 a week, and the Night Care Service by £1.19 a week.
The changes, if agreed, would come into effect from April 4 2022, as part of a five-year plan to implement CPI + per cent rent increases nationally in the aftermath of a 1% reduction in rents from April 2016 to March 2020, under a Government cap, which left the council £24.3m out of pocket.
Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member for housing and democracy, said: “Major projects are already underway across Kirklees aimed at upgrading and making homes even safer for our tenants.
“The HRA is ring-fenced money, which means there are clear guidelines on how it can be spent. The vital improvements we are already making to our housing stock are continuing at great pace, while we also drive forward strategic investment in the council house building programme to meet the demand for social housing in Kirklees.
“We hope this, as well as changing the way our tenants can pay their rent from monthly to weekly to help them budget more efficiently, will put us on the path to offering a high-quality and first-class housing service with tenant safety at the heart of all we do.”
The increases coincide with a change in housing compliance and safety legislation, which has highlighted the need to make tenants’ homes safer, carry out high-rise repairs and regeneration, decarbonise the council’s housing stock and build new council homes.
The council commissioned an independent safety and compliance review in Spring 2021, which led to 50 improvements being recommended. To date 31 actions have been completed – 62% – with all the improvements set to finished by September 2023.
More than £200 million has already been earmarked to make tenants’ homes safer across Kirklees, with a particular focus on meeting fire regulations, managing asbestos, water hygiene, electrical testing, gas and other safety related services.
The Cabinet will also be asked to approve changes to the tenancy agreement, from charging rents on a monthly basis to weekly for all tenants. It is hoped the move will better support tenants to manage their finances and help reduce the number of householders experiencing arrears.