TENANTS have protested outside of a housing association office demanding bosses abandon an “unaffordable” rent hike.

A group of tenants, organised by union Living Rent, staged a protest outside the offices of Partick Housing Association in Glasgow on Friday to express their anger over a planned 7% increase in rent.

They said the increase was unaffordable and was not supported by tenants, hitting out the consultation process, which they claimed was unrepresentative of the majority view.

The tenants’ union claimed just 12% of people housed by Partick Housing Association responded to the consultation on increasing rent.

The housing association said it was forced to put up rent prices because of its own increasing costs in providing “key services”.

Scott Falconer, a tenant and Living Rent member, said the increase was accompanied by “handouts” from the housing association to cover the costs of electricity and food, saying this made residents feel like “charity cases”.

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He said: “As a Partick Housing Association tenant it’s galling to be facing a 7% rent hike based on the consultation of only 215 tenants when our landlord owns 1800 homes.

The National:

“Of those 215, Partick Housing haven’t even stated how many supported this hike - which is amongst the highest in Scotland.  And it adds insult to injury that having had this rent hike imposed we are now being offered handouts for electricity and food as though we are charity cases.”

Another tenant called into question the legitimacy of the consultation and said the increase was “atrocious”.

Andrew McAllister, a resident and member of the union, said: “During a cost of living crisis, a rent hike of 7% is atrocious. And I have to say; a consultation isn’t really a consultation if people aren’t actively engaged and given the opportunity to give their actual thoughts.

“To be clear - Partick Housing Association have made no effort to actively engage with us as tenants in this year’s rent consultation, and I find it impossible to imagine any significant number of Partick Housing tenants having actually supported this eye-watering rent hike.”

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A spokesperson for Partick Housing Association said: “We understand that many of our customers may be worried about the cost of living and increased rents.

“We work closely with our tenants and do our best to support those who need help or have financial worries. The association, like others, is also facing financial challenges with increasing costs and has had to make difficult decisions this year. 

The National:

“Having consulted our tenants, we have balanced the needs of customers to continue delivering key services and investing in homes while keeping our rents affordable. 

“Our rent increase this year is lower than the inflation rate. From November 2022 to January 2023, we held various engagement events and encouraged our tenants to get involved in our rent consultation. We would encourage any tenants who are worried about their rent to get in touch with us.”

'Tenants thrown under the bus' 

Rosie Hampton, the chair of Partick’s Living Rent branch, took aim at the Scottish Government, who she said had thrown tenants in council flats “under the bus” by allowing rent increases.

Announcing the end of the rent freeze for those in council houses, tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie said social housing rents were expected to rise by around 6.1% on average and would be restricted to be below the rate of inflation.

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Hampton said: “With the cancellation of the rent freeze, tenants have been thrown under the bus by the Scottish Government.

“The cost-of-living crisis hasn’t gotten any easier. Bills are still soaring, costs aren’t coming down and any increase in wages is well below inflation - no one can afford any increase to their rent.

“The government has said that the increases in social housing are to allow for repairs and development of the sector. But this is laughable when we know the extent of disrepair and energy failure in social housing. Tenants should not be facing the double whammy of increased rents, disrepair and high bills.

“With these rent increases, the government needs to ensure that social tenants are supported from accruing rent arrears and eviction. They need to raise the eviction threshold for rent arrears and increase the Tenant Hardship Fund.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "At the end of 2022 the Scottish Government reached agreement with social landlords that average rent rises across the social sector in Scotland for 2023-24 would be around 6%, recognising the balance to be struck between acute cost pressures faced by tenants and the need for social landlords to cover the costs of services and invest in new and improved homes.

"Whilst most social sector landlords expected to raise rents below this level it was recognised that there may be individual circumstances where a higher increase would be made.

“In practice, social landlords have kept rent increase below the agreed level with an increase of around 5% on average and well below inflation.

"Individual landlords will have rents above or below that average, depending on their own service and investment plans and their own consultation with tenants.

"The Scottish Government has made significant cost of living support available and we would encourage anyone struggling with rent or other costs to visit our website for information about the help available."