GHA faces fight over rent plans
Residents gather petition against GHA’s proposals
GLASGOW Housing Association tenants are launching a battle against proposed changes into the way the organisation charges rent.
Campaigners say GHA’s plans would lead to an “extortionate” increase for some tenants and have launched a petition against the GHA proposals.
The social landlord says the new system would be “simpler, fairer and easier to understand”.
It has launched a consultation over its proposals, but no decision has yet been taken on any increases.
TENANTS are mounting a battle against proposed changes to the way Glasgow Housing Association charges rent.
Campaigners in Springburn say the GHA’s plan would lead to an “extortionate” increase for some and have collected 210 signatures on a petition calling on the association to think again.
GHA says it wants to shake up its system for charging rent to make it “simpler, fairer and easier to understand”.
It has launched a consultation over its proposals, and no decision has yet been taken on any increases.
And while it insists that its plan won’t take in any extra cash, the changes would see a rent rise for about half of all tenants in the city, with the other half predicted to see a reduction.
But Springburn resident Sharon McMillan, 34, says the plan will leave too many people worse off.
Miss McMillan said: “My current weekly rent is £48 and if the proposal goes ahead this will increase to £75 in 2011.
“In 2003, when GHA took over the housing stock, it stated that in the first six years rent would not increase by any more than the rate of inflation; in years six to eight it said rent would rise by no more than inflation, plus 1%.
“Then, low and behold, come year nine it wants almost to double some people’s rent and gives no indication as to what further increases will be.”
Sharon’s neighbour Elizabeth Nevitt, 39, said: “Taking this petition round the doors, it’s clear that there are a lot of people who weren’t in on the picture and that GHA hasn’t explained it properly to people.
“I was having to do it. People thought their rent was only going up by £2 a week. I had to explain it’s going up gradually by more than that.”
GHA insists that no decision has yet been taken.
It also says any rises will be phased in to minimise any financial impact.
Alex McGuire, the GHA’s acting executive director of housing and customer services, said: “We would always expect views to be mixed in a consultation on plans radically to restructure rents.
“The current rent structure is an issue we inherited at stock transfer and nothing like this has ever been attempted before.
“That is why we are being very diligent in our consultation and the views of all our tenants will be listened to. It is important to us that tenants help shape the future structure of rents and we welcome all feedback we have received so far, including the petition from tenants in Springburn.
“All views will go before the GHA board and will be considered before a final decision is made.
“Under the current rent structure there are some properties which, given their size and type, have unusually high or low rents.
“The proposed rent restructure is about addressing this so that everyone pays a fairer price. No tenant’s rent would rise by more than £5 a week in any one year.
“The proposed structure has been designed to help tenants facing the larger rises. They would see the increases phased in – at no more than £5 a week each year.
“We have informed tenants about the proposals and what they would mean to them in a number of ways. This has included detailed articles in the August and October issues of our tenants’ magazine which is posted out to each home.
“We also sent all tenants a rent restructure consultation booklet with frequently asked questions and a short questionnaire.
“In addition, we wrote a letter to each tenant explaining what their weekly rent is now and what it would be if the proposals went ahead.
“Our local housing office held two open days for tenants to come to talk about the proposals.
“If any tenant has any questions or wants to talk about the proposals we urge them to call our team on 0800 479 7979.”