After four years during which our costs have risen, we needed to increase rents to allow us to maintain the quality of our housing and keep investing in new projects.
But, at the same time, we knew our tenants’ day-to-day living costs had also increased. Our tenants across East Anglia were facing significant increases in their food and utility bills.
With a core objective of providing value for money and ‘Fairness’ being a core value, our top priority is to do the best we can for tenants in terms of affordability.
We began discussing this with our tenants during the budget rounds, and it went through our Tenants’ Forum, Operations Committee, and onto Strategic Board. Our tenant voice was clear: Find a way to balance continued investment with rent affordability.
Taking effect from 6th April, Havebury has therefore committed to limiting its 2020 rent rise to 2.2%, which is 0.5% below the 2.7% cap set by the government.
We appreciate that our rents are still increasing. However, this smaller rise will allow Havebury to continue to invest in new and existing homes as well as providing good, quality services and safe accommodation for all tenants, while ensuring our own staff are fairly remunerated.
How did we do this?
During the four years of rent reduction, through driving a strong culture of value for money, Havebury maintained its position as a top-quartile developer of new homes. By 2022, at the end of our current five-year plan, we will have grown by 20%.
We’ve also been able to significantly invest in our existing homes, with satisfaction in existing homes rising by just under 10% in the last five years.
By embracing technology, we have been able to move almost a quarter of our transactions through to our new app, myHavebury. We worked with tenants to design and build the app, which we developed in house, enabling tenants to identify and book a repair from end to end with no human interaction until the point at which the technician arrives at their door.
All this has helped us streamline the business, and we were thrilled last year to retain our G1V1 rating from the regulator following our IDA (in-depth assessment).
Inevitably, this is a matter of choice for all landlords and their tenants; many may have to consider raising rents by the full 2.7% to make up for the four years of reductions and invest in their services.
However, the ability of tenants to meet the new demands without compromising their quality of life was always at the forefront of our minds.