Aberdeenshire Council proposes 5% rent increases

Aberdeenshire Council is set to recommend a 5% increase in council rents for each of the next three years, following detailed discussions involving tenants.

The proposal stems from the findings of a working group, comprising councillors, council officers, and tenant representatives, which were considered by the council’s Communities Committee yesterday.

The council manages a 30-year business plan outlining the cost of investment and the income required to support housing services.

The working group, established in March last year, examined short, medium, and long-term financial challenges, aiming to develop proposals that reflect these challenges while ensuring rent affordability.

Four options were explored for rent increases over the next three years, ranging from 3% to 7.5% annually.

The process included engagement with tenants through workshops, focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

Of over 1,300 respondents, 44% expressed a preference for a consistent 5% increase each year, translating to an extra £4.41 per week in the coming year.

Respondents were also asked about priorities for the housing service, with a significant focus on increasing/improving insulation, investment in new heating systems, and new doors and windows.

There was notable support for continued investment in new homes to reduce the number of empty properties.

Communities Committee members, while acknowledging the findings, recommended further exploration of reasons for some respondents not expressing a preference.

The committee also endorsed recommending the 5% increase to the full council.

Communities Committee chair, Cllr Anne Stirling, emphasised the importance of involving tenants in developing proposals: "What the working group heard this year from tenants was a desire for the council to focus on making sure homes are kept warm and comfortable through improved insulation and efficient heating systems."

Committee vice-chair, Cllr Sarah Brown, highlighted the proposed increases' aim to strike a balance between meeting housing service challenges and keeping rents affordable. Tenant voices were considered integral to this process.

The proposed rent increases will be discussed during Aberdeenshire Council’s budget meeting on Thursday, February 22. A workshop on priorities in the housing revenue account business plan is scheduled for the spring, with the outcomes reported back to the Communities Committee.

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