Perth & Kinross Council continues home improvements despite rents freeze

Perth and Kinross CouncilSignificant investments in council houses in Perth and Kinross over recent years has seen the percentage of council houses achieving the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) reach an all time high.

A positive report on housing conditions will be considered by members of Perth & Kinross Council’s housing & health committee next week alongside proposals for a nil increase to housing rents in 2017/18 to allow a new rent model to fully bed in.

As a landlord Perth & Kinross Council is committed to achieving the SHQS requirements for tenants, and is delivering the standard through a sustained programme of housing investment and improvement, including improvements to the external fabric of buildings, upgrades to central heating, kitchens, bathrooms, double-glazing and energy efficiency works.

As a result of this investment programme almost 95 per cent of council housing stock met or exceeded the standard as at 31 March 2016. Of those which were not compliant, fewer than 0.5 per cent of the overall stock, a total of 36 houses, were recorded as failing the standard.

The remaining non-compliant properties were a combination of where elements of the standard are ‘exempt’ because the work cannot be carried out for technical reasons (0.19 per cent of stock), and where work has been prevented in common areas where private owners refused to participate (4.76 per cent of stock).

Councillor Dave Doogan, convener of the housing & health committee, said: “We can rightly be very proud of the condition of Council housing in Perth and Kinross. Our levels of compliance with the Scottish Housing Quality are excellent, and show that we have continued to listen to tenants and respond to their priorities of investment in new and better housing.

“We are not complacent about those properties which don’t yet meet the standard, and officers are continuing to look at ways to encourage private owners to do the right thing and allow work in common areas, looking at funding options, and programmes such as the external insulation scheme, which transforms the appearance of homes and makes them much more affordable to heat.

“It is also important to remember that the Scottish Housing Quality Standard is a continuing commitment. The council’s planned capital investment programme of £77 million over the next five years will ensure sustained compliance with the SHQS throughout our housing stock, and excellent value for money for tenants of Perth and Kinross Council.”

Following extensive consultation with tenants, members of the housing & health committee last year approved a new rent structure model for council house rents. The new model moves to full implementation from April 2017, and will result in higher or lower rents for many Council tenants with some of these adjustments being significant.

Councillor Doogan said: “The new rent structure model introduces a fairer and more logical approach to calculating rents, for the benefit of all of our tenants. Moving from the old model to the new one has meant a change, and the proposed nil rent increase for 2017/18 is one of the ways in which we will minimise the overall impact of this change for our tenants.

“It is thanks to the prudent financial management of the Housing Revenue Account, and the commitment of housing staff that we can propose this nil rent increase without any negative impact on the housing investment programme. At a time of general financial restraint it is very positive that here in Perth and Kinross we can maintain the highest standards of council housing while remaining amongst the lowest council house rents in Scotland.”

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