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Rent rises not as harsh as some reports suggest

Rent rises not as harsh as some reports suggest -- CCC¡¯s Rob Dally

Putting up Council tenancy rentals is always a hard decision, but the Christchurch City Council is determined to make sure its stock of social housing remains and to do this it needed to make modest rises in its rents, says City Council Property Manager Rob Dally.

Responding to a newspaper report following last week¡¯s Council meeting, Mr Dally said the story did not reflect the issues that prompted the Councillors¡¯ unanimous decision to raise City Housing rentals.

¡°The decision to raise the rents was a really tough call,¡± Mr Dally says. ¡°But if the rents weren¡¯t adjusted, City Housing couldn¡¯t provide for the future maintenance and eventual replacement of the complexes and Christchurch wouldn¡¯t be able to keep this resource for future generations in need of low-cost housing.¡±

City Housing rents have not gone up since 1997, even though the costs of running and replacing the housing portfolio have increased considerably, as have market rents. The Council rents increase was needed to make sure its Housing Development fund continues to be self-financing and does not need ratepayers¡¯ funds to operate.

The article said elderly tenants in bedsit or studio units face a jump of $20 a week to $68 and $72 respectively.

¡°That¡¯s misleading. It is $20 but it¡¯s being phased in over three years,¡± Mr Dally says. ¡°No tenant¡¯s rent will jump up by $20 a week, as the article suggests. This story may cause our elderly tenants even more unnecessary stress.

¡°The reality is that the maximum net increase with the Accommodation Supplement factored in will be no more than $5.50 extra a week for any tenant.¡±

Superannuitants will be the most affected, but that is because their current rents are heavily discounted, at around 46 per cent of market rates. But the change is being phased in over three years to minimise the impact on tenants.

¡°The increase in rentals will qualify some tenants for an Accommodation Supplement, or an increase in the amount they are already receiving, from Work and Income. We will ensure tenants who wish to apply for this have the appropriate administration passed on to Work and Income (with tenants¡¯ consent). This is to ensure the payment will be adjusted from the date the rent increase takes effect to mitigate the amount.¡±.

¡°Even with the increase, it is still the cheapest rental housing in Christchurch ¨C these increases will bring the rental levels to on average 70 per cent of market rates,¡± Rob says.

¡ñ For more information, contact Rod Dally, Property Manager, on 941 8500

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