Tenants given rent options

Councillors have scrapped proposals for a rent premium on new homes.
Councillors have scrapped proposals for a rent premium on new homes.

Fife Council housing tenants are being asked to give their views on how much their rents should rise in the next financial year.

Three options are being put forward by the Council – an increase equivalent to RPI (Retail Price Index), increase of RPI plus one per cent or an increase of RPI plus two per cent.

Derek Muir, head of housing, indicated his preference was RPI plus one per cent, which would be a rise of 4.2 per cent, and was in line with current Council policy.

This option would mean the average rent would rise by £2.50 per week to an average of £61.94. This would still be one of the lowest rents charged by local authorities in Scotland, and below the levels charged by housing associations in Fife.

Mr Muir said: “This option has previously been well supported by Fife Council tenants and the basis of their preference for a Fife Standard, improved estates and new build programmes. Providing the risks of Welfare Benefit Reform can be controlled, these commitments can continue to be planned through this rent option.”

As well as agreeing to consult with tenants on rent rise options, the Council’s executive committee decided not to go ahead with a previous idea to charge a new-build rent premium on new Council homes.

The committee also rejected a proposal by Councillor David Dempsey, Conservative group leader, who called for rents to be adjusted up and down based on homes’ energy efficiency ratings.

Councillors and officials claimed this was too complicated, and pointed out 91 per cent of Council homes already met the energy efficiency standard.

But speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dempsey claimed Fife Council has missed an opportunity to make rents fairer.

He said: “Rents are based on the type of property – house, flat, etc – and the number of bedrooms. Nothing else matters, so an easy to heat house attracts the same rent as a hard to heat one.

“An energy-efficient fridge costs more but you get that back in lower running costs. Why not the same for houses?

“Now tenants in hard to heat homes will go on subsidising those in new, low cost houses. That’s not fair.”