Rents for thousands of council tenants in Camden are set to go up by seven per cent, after senior councillors approved the housing budget at a meeting this month.
Camden Council will put the rents up in April to help boost the income for its housing revenue account by £8.2million as it struggles with the hike in inflation.
It will mean an £8.59 weekly increase on a two-bedroom home, taking the rent up to £131.31 a week. Service charges will also go up by five percent.
Cabinet member for better homes, Cllr Meric Apak, said the council had to follow government rules to cut rents by one per cent a year between 2015 and 2019, which costs it £7m.
It has also faced financial pressures from Brexit; the £20m cost to put right the cladding on the Chalcots estate and the waking watch needed there; and extra fire safety measures after the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, which will cost £40m over the next five years.
Cllr Apak said: “Not increasing rents and service charges can only lead to one outcome — worse services for our tenants.”
He added: “Do we cut repairs, CCTV, caretaking, what about the welfare team?
“We need a pragmatic solution, one which is least hurtful and damaging to our tenants.”
He warned that another option would have been to sell assets but he was not prepared to recommend it. “It is a slippery slope,” he said.
Cllr Apak said the dilemma was “etched on the faces” of tenants’ representatives as they looked at the options.
He urged residents to seek help early if they think they will face difficulties finding the extra money.
The council will also put up heating pool charges by 175 percent but use credits to bring it down to 125 per cent. It will also defer repayment of the deficit notched up because of fuel price inflation.
This could raise £12.9m for the housing budget.
This follows a vote by residents’ representatives at a recent meeting of all five district management committees (DMCs). Two of them voted for the 125 per cent increase, whilst one opted for a 175 per cent hike.
Holly Lodge Tenants’ and Residents’ Association contacted Cllr Apak suggesting he looks at lower increases.
Initially the council was looking at a 290 per cent hike but brought it down to 220 per cent before a “painful” hunt for other ways to cut it further, before coming up with four options for the DMCs to vote on.