Council rent levels to rise for next five years

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Council tenants face a three or four per cent annual increase in their rent over the next five years.

West Lothian Council is encouraging tenants to share their views in a consultation over a new housing investment strategy from 2018-19 to 2022-23.

The local authority said the rise aims to give tenants certainty over their future rent levels, allow planned investment in housing stock and help to determine the number of new council homes that can be built.

The average weekly rent for council homes in the county is £68.19 – slightly less than the Scottish average of £70.55.

If tenants paying average weekly rent opted for a three per cent increase by 2022-23 they would by paying £78.56 a week. A four per cent increase would mean paying £82.97 a week.

Executive councillor George Paul said: “Tenants are being asked to consider whether they would prefer to support a three per cent or four per cent annual rent increase, which would allow the local authority to build and add to the supply of additional council homes in the next five years.”

According to the local authority there are nearly 9500 applicants on the Common Housing Register list in West Lothian and the demand for social rented housing is growing.

More than 99 per cent of council homes exceed the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) for social housing and 70p from every pound of rent collected is on repairs, maintenance or planned investment, the council added.

Tenants are encouraged to visit to make sure their opinions are heard. The survey runs for two months until Friday, December 8.

Mr Paul added: “It’s vital we look at options for increasing the supply of new homes for rent. Existing council tenants will continue to get priority for new council homes.

“We also need to make sure the rent levels remain affordable for our tenants.”

Council staff will engage with tenant representatives on the Tenants Panel and Tenants Networks over the strategy, with a number of special drop-in sessions arranged for tenants to find out more or discuss the proposals.

These take place at:

Bathgate Partnership Centre – Tuesday October 17, 11am to 12.30pm and 6pm to 7.30pm

Strathbrock Partnership Centre, Broxburn – Thursday October 19, 11am to 12.30pm and 4.30pm to 6pm.

Whitburn Community Centre, Whitburn - Tuesday October, 24 11am to 12.30pm and 6pm to 7.30pm

West Lothian Civic Centre, Livingston – Thursday October 26, 11am to 12.30pm and 6pm to 7.30pm.