In November 2018, Viewpoint’s Board agreed to consult tenants on a proposed 2.3% increase on rents and a freeze (no increase) of service charges. This was based on the CPIH (Consumer Price Index including Housing costs) as at July 2018, the lowest of the three inflation indicators used by the UK Government.
These proposals took into account Viewpoint’s long term financial viability as well as affordability for tenants, transparency and fairness, comparability and value for money.
Tenants told us that you wanted us to carry out our annual consultation on setting our rent and service charges differently and we based this consultation exercise on recommendations from a tenant working group. The group, facilitated by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), looked at how Viewpoint has carried out this consultation in the past and delivered a number of recommendations to Viewpoint. We tried to implement as many of them as possible, the most significant being bringing forward the whole organisation’s budget setting process to allow us to consult with tenants earlier.
We then worked with the group to help us design an information leaflet and questionnaire. Over a couple of meetings and tasty lunches we discussed the information that is important to tenants, how to best display it and how to ask for feedback- this meant the introduction of a mini questionnaire, rather than just one question as we had done in previous years. The leaflet and questionnaire were sent to all tenants at the end of November. For the first time time we introduced ballot boxes to our staffed complexes to make it easier for tenants to return their questionnaire. The questionnaire was also available to complete online via SurveyMonkey.
Fast forward to January 2019
Once all ballot boxes had been emptied after the holidays and responses counted we were delighted to have received 364 feedback forms in total, a response rate of 27%. In previous years the average response rate was just under 10%.
58% of tenants agreed that ‘a rent increase is necessary to maintain services and investment in our stock’. 24% disagreed.
84% agreed that ‘we should prioritise investment in heating systems, electrical wiring, roofworks, kitchens, bathrooms and windows’. 5% disagreed.
47% felt their ‘rent was affordable’. 38% were neutral or had no comment and 15% felt their rent was unaffordable.
After all the responses were collated, and as agreed with the working group, tenants met with Board members to discuss the outcome of the consultation. At this meeting we also had the opportunity to work together on the content of the letter sent to tenants following the Board’s decision on rent and service charges for the following year.
All tenants will have received their letter about the rent increase at the end of February. We hope you found the information clear and easy to understand. If you have any queries about your rent, please contact us on 0131 668 4247 or by emailing email@example.com.
Esther Wilson, Director of People and Place, said “We are delighted with the response rate for this consultation and thank everybody who took the time to respond. This is an excellent reflection of the work undertaken with our tenants in this area and goes to show what we can achieve when we work together. Our tenant participation strategy gives everyone the chance to get involved in the way that best suits them and I would encourage tenants to find out more about the opportunities available. Your participation makes all the difference. You can find out more about all the different ways to get involved in this section. ”