Housing Executive 7% rent rise from April 2023 'deeply concerning' - MLA

Housing Executive rent increases have been signed off by the Department for Communities with Derry Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson warning of the impact the rise will have.
Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson.Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson.
Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson.

The Housing Executive said the 7% rise, effective from April 4 2023, is below-inflation increase and “will provide funding for essential maintenance, improvements and investment while also keeping the rent affordable for tenants”.

However Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson said it will "pile more pressure on families who are already struggling”.

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The party’s housing spokesperson said an Executive is needed now to protect people.

Ciara Ferguson said: “Confirmation that Housing Executive rents will be increased by 7% is deeply concerning and will add more pressure on struggling families.

“This is the biggest rise in Housing Executive rents for many years at time when people are struggling to keep the heat and lights on.

“Decisions like this are the outworking of the DUP’s failure to form an Executive that has left departments at the mercy of savage Tory Budget cuts and no local minister working to protect families during a cost-of-living crisis.

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“We need an Executive formed and parties working together to support workers and families now. That’s the best way to protect people.”

The Department for Communities said tenant affordability was the Department’s key consideration.

A spokesperson said: “78% of Housing Executive tenants are currently in receipt of housing assistance. These tenants will be protected from the impact of the rent increase.

“For the other 22% of tenants (with no entitlement or a minimal entitlement to assistance with housing costs), the impact of the increase was modelled across a range of household scenarios all of which demonstrated its affordability.

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“The Housing Executive is offering support to tenants through its Financial Inclusion Team which helps tenants by providing advice on benefits, budgeting and signposting to a range of sources of financial support.”

The increase equates to an average additional £4.86 per week, increasing the average weekly rent for tenants from £69.49 to £74.35

The Department said Housing Executive rent levels are considered every year by taking into account a wide range of factors, including: inflation; projected running costs; spending requirements and affordability.

78% of NIHE tenants have assistance paying rent through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.