Fears that thousands of Peterborough
residents could face big rent increases if Peterborough City Council
decides to sell its housing stock have been discounted by a leading
local housing association.
News that the city council was
considering a range of options for the future ownership and management
of its 11,400 homes prompted fears that rents could rise dramatically
if the housing stock was sold to a private company.
The council is investigating several
options for its houses after a recent survey revealed that repairs and
maintenance - such as rewiring, renewing central heating, replacing
windows and re-roofing - would cost £60 million over the next 20 or
Among the ideas being considered by the
council are: selling the houses to a private company; forming a
partnership with housing associations; creating its own housing
company; and retaining its existing management structure.
However, Tim Hawkes, chief executive of
Minster General Housing Association, which owns around 1,600 homes
throughout the region, sought to quell residents’ fears about any
potential sell-off scheme involving a housing association.
“Minster’s rents are actually lower
than the average charged by the city council,” he said. “So any
management scheme that involves local housing associations could well
result in rents being held down rather than being forced up.
“The government is introducing a new
rent re-structuring process that will affect both local authorities
and housing associations.
“The proposals will seek to standardise
all social housing sector rents over a ten year period and limit rent
increases to the inflation rate plus 0.5 per cent, so that will also
prevent excessive rent rises.
“Minster has 25 years’ experience in
providing low-cost rented accommodation for local people and we would
welcome an opportunity to work with the city council on the future
management of its estates.
“We consistently score well on national
performance tables for the efficient management of our properties so
existing tenants should have nothing to fear.”
Mr Hawkes said that if the council did
decide to sell its housing portfolio the price would take into account
the cost of essential repairs and maintenance.