The first thing you notice about Hyde’s email is a smiling woman, calculator in one hand, letter in the other. But many how of those receiving the emailed smiled on finding their rents would rise 4.1% from April? And how deep is their dread as they wait to find out how much more they will be expected to pay in service charges?
This week, The Times reported on the much publicised cost of living crisis saying “Households are facing a cost of living crisis with every home set for a £1,200 increase in bills this year as energy prices and taxes rise. The Bank of England predicts inflation could rise as high as 7 per cent — a level not seen since 1991 … well ahead of wage growth.” (Cost of Living Crisis: Where Households Will Feel the Pinch in the Months Ahead).
Accounting for Rents
Energy bills and tax rises have been widely reported across the media, but less well known is the fact that social tenants will be facing sharp hikes in rents, compounding the squeeze on incomes. One exception was The Big Issue’s recent article ‘Rent Rises Mean Cost of Living Crisis Will Hit Social Housing Tenants Even Harder‘, which noted many councils across England were already planning to increase social housing rents by 4.1%.
Housing associations now prepare to follow suit, with Hyde taking a leading position in putting the squeeze on its social tenants:
True to form, the only thing that Hyde are any good at is being bang on time with increasing the rent and service charges each year … They’re putting social rents up by the maximum 4.1% allowed under the Rent Standard, and will without doubt use service charge increases to further maximise income. A real slap in the face and total insult given they still haven’t sorted out previous years’ service charge overcharges for so many tenants. This is truly despicable.Leona Wells*
A View from Above
As always with Hyde, their excuses are both lame and misleading. Their explanation for the rise is that “Social rents are set by government legislation. This includes any increases that happen.” In fact, government sets the limit on the rise that can be applied to social rents. Councils and housing associations could choose to go lower, or even reduce rents.
Hyde Rent Rises from April 2022
- General needs: up to 4.1% increase – either assured or assured shorthold tenancy.
- Affordable rent: up to 4.1% increase – Welfare Reform Act 2012 rents up to 80% of market value.
- Mortgage rescue: up to 4.1% increase – where Hyde has purchased the properties and let them back to the original owner at an intermediate market rent.
- Supported housing tenancies: up to 4.1% increase – accommodation with additional support.
- Shared ownership: Dependent on lease – RPI plus 0.5%, 1% or 2%, dependent on lease.
- Market rent: Based on market review but capped at 4.1% increase.
- Intermediate rent: Based on market review but capped at 4.1% increase.
- Garages, parking spaces, licences, and allotments: 4.1%
A glance through Hyde’s annual financial statement for 2020-21 shows that the increases are not necessary. Its core operating surplus was £85.4m in the year, up from £84.6m in 2020, growing its pot of reserve funds. This surplus could be put to good use subsiding rents across the Hyde estate.
The executive of Hyde will have little understanding of the poverty and hardship the majority and tenants and residents experience each month. In 2020-21, the number of Hyde’s executive staff paid more than £100K rose from 24 to 34.
Before his retirement, chief executive, Peter Denton, received a salary of £277,775, equating to £23,148 every month. This is just slightly below the average £25,971 that UK workers earn in an entire year.
Rent and Service Charge Strikes
Even before the 2022 rent rises, Hyde was most heavily represented within SHAC’s Rent & Service Charge Strike Group (RSCS). If housing association rents rise this year, existing strikers are likely to be joined by many others who find they can no longer afford to pay because all spare cash has already been sacrificed.
The RSCS group is open to any housing association tenant or resident regardless of landlord who is withholding rent or service charge payments, either wholly or partially, or who aims to do so.
The group helps coordinate action across landlords, provides mutual solidarity, develops and shares resources such as template letters that strikers can use, and campaigns to raise awareness of their action. Its next meeting will take place at 6pm on Tuesday 15th February. Find out more about what the group does and how you can register here.
Leave a comment below to let us know about your landlord’s 2022 rent and service charge rises.
*Leona Wells’ name was changed to hide the tenant’s identity.
5 February 2022
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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.