'Higher earning tenants should pay more rent'
A straw poll of attendees at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference found the majority think tenants should be charged more rent as their income rises.
In a session on the future of housing subsidy, 87 per cent of delegates agreed or strongly agreed that social housing rents should increase as a household’s income increases.
Ann Sutcliffe, executive director for neighbourhoods at Shropshire Housing Group, said the advantage of the model is it doesn’t involve ‘forcing [tenants] to move from their home and their community’.
The extra rent could be used to cross-subsidise building more homes, some attendees suggested. Although, chair of the session Karen Armitage, chief executive of Stafford and Rural Homes, warned encouraging tenants to move if they start earning more could have unintended consequences. ‘Moving children out of houses because mum makes more money,’ she said by way of example. ‘Market rent could supply housing, but there’s no guarantee that it could supply one for one replacement [as former affordable homes were let at market rents].’
Mike Gahagam, chair of Paradigm Homes, who was in the audience, predicted that in 10 to 15 years, the current system of social and affordable rents could be completely replaced, with homes to be let at market rents, and tenants receiving a personal subsidy if they couldn’t afford it.
He noted of the current system that ‘change’ can determine the life chances of tenants. ‘It’s a matter of chance,’ he said. ‘It will be what happens to come up when you go into your local authority and register. [You face] a complete life change if you happen to get a social home or a private home.’
The Government published the ‘pay to stay’ consultation today, which proposes high-earning social tenants could see their rents increased to 80 per cent of market rate.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council have today come out in support of the proposal and are currently consulting on its own plans to bar residents earning more than £40,200 from its waiting list.
Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing at Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: ‘Social housing is meant to be for those people who are most in need of somewhere to live. Instead, we have a system where millions of people on low incomes are forced into the private rented sector while high-income tenants are occupying the homes that were built for the most vulnerable.
‘This borough has some of the highest private rents in the country and it is an absolute travesty that so many of our low income residents have to pay astronomical weekly rents, while some people earning in excess of £60,000 are getting away with a weekly rent of around £100.’