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Moray tenants being consulted on 11% rent rises

By Hazel Lawson Local Democracy Reporter

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Moray Council is considering increasing its council house rents as well as simplifying how they are calculated.

Rent for flats could be reduced, while little change is earmarked for mid-terraced houses.

By contrast, the rents could go up for newer properties which have additional features such as private drives and a second toilet.

However the maximum rise or fall is expected to be limited to £7.50 per week.

Overall the average rent could increase by 11% from £73.25 to £76.20, although a smaller increase of 7.7% is also on the table.

Moray Council says its average rent levels are the lowest amongst all 32 of Scotland's local authorities, as well as significantly lower than locally-operating registered social landlords.

The issue was discussed at yesterday's meeting of the housing committee.

Sandy Keith (Elgin North, Labour) stated that it should not be "open season" on rents just because pay levels appeared to be rising.

He added: "Yes, we do have the lowest rent levels in Scotland, but we also have amongst the lowest average wages in Scotland."

While about 46% of tenants receive benefits to cover all or part of their housing costs, cllr Keith raised concerns for those who just miss out on any assistance.

Agreeing, John Divers (Elgin South, Labour) said: "Moray is a low wage economy. There’s also fuel poverty and a cost-of-living crisis.

"And there’s a lot of people who’ve not had a pay increase, and some who are only getting two or three percent.

"We really need to keep an eye on what’s happening out there."

The council believes that simplifying how rents are calculated would reduce costs to itself by £1.8 million a year, irrespective of any rises in rents.

Its current system uses a points-based approach, which considers such things as the age, type and location of a property, the number of bedrooms, the standard of kitchen, its energy efficiency and whether it has a garden.

As a result there are currently 386 different rental levels.

The council wants to reduce that number to 28 and, to do so, is looking for input from tenants.

A consultation begins today and will close on Friday, January 5.

The new policy is expected to come into force from April 1.

Amber Dunbar (Elgin North, Conservative) chairs the council’s housing committee.

She said: "The council is facing increased financial pressures across the board and we must ensure a sustainable service.

"A key aim of the rent-setting policy review is to ensure we can continually strive to improve the quality of our stock and services, the range of housing options available, and levels of tenant involvement.

"We would be really grateful for as much feedback from tenants as possible to assist us in shaping these proposals."

The consultation documents are available HERE on Moray Council’s website.

For a paper copy email housingpolicy@moray.gov.uk

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