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Minister for Social Care says No to Douglas Council rent increase request 22 March 2013

Douglas Council has formally requested permission to increase their rents by 11.25% across all their properties instead of implementing the 1.8% increase and revised rents point system applied to all Housing Authorities, agreed by Council of Ministers in November 2012.

The updated points system, which will be in place from April 2013, provides a fair and equitable means of charging rent for all public sector properties, regardless of the location. The revised system updates the rent calculation system which has remained largely unchanged for over twenty years and did not take account of new build properties, improved modern designs, layout, thermal efficiency and the modern amenities provided in most public sector homes today. All Local Authorities were informed of these changes in November 2012 but Douglas Corporation only last week informed the Department of its intention to not implement the approved changes. This has left their tenants not knowing the rent they are expected to pay from the 1 April 2013.

The Minister for Social Care, Chris Robertshaw commented;

“I am very disappointed that Douglas Council requested the Department’s agreement to impose a rent increase which is blatantly unfair to many of its tenants. In discussions with the Council Leader I have expressed my concern at this proposal, as I feel it is important that the Council understand the revised point system provides an equitable method of calculating rents and ensures that the tenant pays a rent which fairly reflects the amenity value of their home. A blanket increase of 11.25% is totally unfair, especially to those tenants who have yet to see much needed investment in their home and who under the revisions to the pointing system would have seen much smaller increases in their rent than the 11.25% proposed by Douglas Council.
I had hoped to be able to positively engage with Douglas Council to persuade them that their proposal is unfair but unfortunately this has not been possible. I have had no option but to refuse the Council permission to increase their rents by 11.25%, and request they formally use the revised point system to determine equitable rents for their properties.
The revised rents point system is part of a progressive strategy that this year accurately identifies property amenity, forming a sound basis for means testing. Together these will ultimately provide a rent system that more accurately identifies the quality of the amenity and the tenants’ ability to pay.”

Douglas Council like all Local Authorities have to give their tenants four weeks’ notice of a rent increase, it is understood this has not yet been done and as a result the Council is likely to have a shortfall in rental income for 2013/14.

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