SFHA and HouseMark launch new rent affordability tool

Sally Thomas

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and HouseMark Scotland have launched a new interactive rent setting tool for their members.

The tool calculates five affordability measures for a proposed rent, and allows users to see how the rent and affordability measures compare to other local social landlords.

A range of income types and household sizes can be used to test rents against. Household incomes are calculated using the evidence-based methods developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Other costs such as council tax can also be included in the affordability calculations within the tool. It offers far greater functionality over the existing rent-setting tool.

The tool is free to use, exclusively for SFHA and HouseMark Scotland members.

SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas said: “Having a clear and effective rent setting policy is vital for housing associations which has led SFHA to look extensively in recent years at what useful measures of affordability look like.

“It’s a real challenge for associations to keep rents affordable at a time of competing priorities such as meeting the EESSH2 standards and continues improvement in the quality of homes and services. This next generation tool, a collaboration between SFHA and HouseMark Scotland, provides a practical method of assessing if rents are affordable against a number of different factors.

“Housing associations are committed to delivering the best quality for their tenants at an affordable cost. This new tool is sure to prove invaluable when it comes to setting fair and affordable rents.”

Kirsty Wells, head of HouseMark Scotland, added: “We are delighted to have developed our new rent affordability tool in partnership with the SFHA.

“Member feedback in the development process proved invaluable and led to additional data being included such as council tax rates. The inclusion of average Universal Credit payments will also help our members to assess the impact of welfare reform on their tenants and consider the impact of proposed rent increases in a more detailed way for the first time.

“This will help to provide ever greater transparency around decisions about rent increases each year for our housing association and local authority members at a time of increasing cost pressures.”

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