What are “social Rents”?
Social rents are set using a government formula. This creates a ‘formula rent’ for each home, which is calculated based on the relative value of the property, its size, and comparative local income levels. Broadly speaking, social rents are targeted to be charged at around 60% of the market rent for the area where the property is located. Formula rent is also subject to rent caps (a ceiling on the maximum rent payable for a property), which vary according to the size of the property.
Flexing of social rents
When a social landlord re-lets a property, the government has allowed them the flexibility to set rents up to 5% above the formula rent for general needs homes, and up to 10% higher than formula rent for sheltered and supported homes.
We are only permitted to do this for homes that become ‘void’ i.e., vacant, and we are not permitted to do this for existing tenancies.
What do we consider before we flex social housing rents?
We consider the affordability of rents and balance this against the anticipated future expenditure of Housing Solutions.
Housing Solutions’ policy in the past has been to set rents at the social rent. The decision to do this was to ensure the affordability of our homes to people who so desperately need housing.
Our future expenditure includes the increased investment we are undertaking on our homes to make sure our residents remain safe, investment in improving our properties, and ensuring we meet the government’s net zero carbon goal by 2050. Over the next 30 years we need to invest almost £600m in this. We also want to continue to provide new homes for more people and we are planning to spend £230m over the next 10 years (2022 to 2031).
We therefore need to strike a balance between keeping rents affordable, and ensuring enough rent comes into Housing Solutions so that we can keep on improving and investing in our existing homes, as well as building new ones.
We consult with tenants through the Service Improvement Team (SIT) who are made up of residents of our properties. This also includes consultation with specific groups of tenants who live in different types of homes that we provide. As part of that consultation, we provide information on the flexing options, the case for flexing, the impact on our residents and what the flexing of rents would help fund.