Tenant Consultation - Rent Choices for 2020/2021

We deliver housing services to over 3,300 tenants across the Scottish Highlands. We want to continue to improve, develop and manage our homes across the area. Our Business Plan sets out our goals of investing in our current housing stock, developing new homes and assuring our financial stability.
Continued investment is required to improve our housing to meet the Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH). At the same time as improving energy efficiency, we are investing in new build developments to provide more social housing to those in need. Funding for these projects is met partly by grants from the Government but also by borrowing. Borrowing incurs costs in the form of Interest, which need to be met through rents payable over the lifetime of the houses.
Rents are the main source of income for Albyn Housing Society and the level of rent is a key determining factor on what we can spend on delivering our housing services, improvements and new build programmes.
This consultation asks for tenant input into our Rent Review for the levels of rents that we will charge from 01 April 2020.

The average weekly rent for an Albyn Housing Society tenant in 2018/19 was £83.94. This ranges from £56.63 for a 1-apartment home to £102.96 for a 5-apartment home. This is lower than the average across all Registered Social Landlords (RSL) which was £86.15. Our average rents have been consistently lower than the RSL average weekly rent for the past three years.
In April 2019 our rents increased by 3.1%. This was the same level of increase as the Registered Social landlord average.

In 2018/19 we spent £39.8million on new and existing homes across the Highlands.

The largest part of our expenditure was on building new homes where we spent £26.1million. We spent a further £2.3million on repairing homes and £2.2million on replacing heating systems, kitchens, bathrooms and Windows and Doors. We spend £4.2million on our operating costs and £2.9million on bank interest charges.

In 2018/19 we replaced -
• 101 Heating Systems or boilers
• 16 Kitchens
• 30 Bathrooms
• 83 Windows and Doors

We carried out 7,477 reactive repairs to our tenants’ homes in 2018/19, with 90.38% completed right first time.
We completed 193 new homes for social and mid-market rent in 2018/19, funded in part by Scottish Government Grants and loans which are paid back by rental income.

The money you pay goes towards the cost of providing the services you receive as an Albyn tenant. The main items of expenditure are housing services, repairs and maintenance and loan interest charges. Based on the average weekly rent, this is how we spent each £1:

Our Plans for the coming year – why are we proposing an increase to rents?
In 2016 our Board approved a plan to deliver 750 new affordable homes for rent by March 2021. During the financial year we plan to deliver a further 362 homes as we complete this ambitious programme.
The need to replace components like heating systems, windows, doors, kitchens and bathrooms and upgrade our homes continues to place high demands on the Society. In 2020/21 we plan to spend a further £2.3million on this important activity.

We want to continue to set our rents with reference to the rate of inflation, basing the annual increase on the change in inflation as measured in September each year. We use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is a Government measure of inflation that aims to reflect the change in cost of living and is published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on a monthly basis.
We have considered what we need to do to keep our rents affordable whilst providing the necessary investment in our housing services. This year we are consulting tenants on two options for the 2020/21 rent review:
Option 1 – 2.7% increase (CPI +1%)
We want to continue to invest in our properties and provide quality housing management and repairs for all tenants. To maintain our levels of investment and services we need to increase our rents by 2.7%. This is equivalent to the rate of inflation (CPI) measured in September 2019 plus 1%.
Option 2 – Fixed Increase of 4.0%
We would welcome tenants’ views on option 2, a fixed increase in rents of 4.0%. This will allow us to deliver our priorities as set out in option 1 plus spend a further £183,000 on providing additional planned improvements to tenant’s homes.

In addition to your views on the options for rent review for 2020/21 we would also like to know how you feel about the affordability of your current rent. The Scottish Housing Regulator requires that all Registered Social Landlords maintain rents at levels that tenants can afford to pay.
Albyn Housing Society tests its rent levels against an affordability tool published by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations to determine the affordability of our average rents. In order to understand in greater detail the extent to which our rents are affordable we would like to know your opinion on whether you consider that your Albyn Housing Society rent is affordable?

There are several ways in which you can share your views as part of this consultation:

- By completing the survey link when we contact you by text
- Online by clicking this link
- By post – you can request a copy of the consultation document by calling the number below
- In person – by visiting one of the Albyn offices and asking for a consultation form at reception.

The Consultation period will run until 28 January 2020 and your response will be used to inform our Board’s decision making on rent levels for 2020/21. Changes to rent levels will be effective from 01 April 2020.

You can contact our offices on:

  • North Team/Head Office 0300 323 0990
  • South Team 0300 323 0991
  • Email: office@albynhousing.org.uk