Rent increase offset by accommodation supplement

The Invercargill City Council needs to help elderly tenants understand the accommodation supplement they may be eligible for, an Invercargill resident says.

Yesterday, at the infrastructural services committee meeting, councillors unanimously decided to stagger their proposed 35% rental increase over two years, rather than increase it all at once or having rental income subsidised by ratepayers.

Cr Nobby Clark said his research into the Winz accommodation supplement would see most tenants meeting the eligibility criteria. If they did, it would mean they would only have to pay $6-8 more per week rent under the staggered increase.

With government benefits also set to increase by 3.1% on April 1, this would help with the increase, he said.

"Couple with that with access to the accommodation supplement and I’m definitely in favour of option two [the staggered increase]."

Tenants had previously thought they were ineligible for the accommodation supplement as they believed the ICC was a community housing landlord rather than what it was, a private landlord.

The change of landlord status meant they would be eligible for a supplement, he said.

In a step away from usual meeting routine, all councillors methodically took their turn to debate the reasons behind their preferred option.

Cr Nigel Skelt said if councillors looked at the business model, increasing rent in one year would be the right option.

"I guess the compelling argument for me is when we had the submitters and the stories they told. One thing as a council we have a responsibility to our ratepayer and in particular, our people, are our most important asset that we have."

Cr Lesley Soper said the up-to-date information on the accommodation supplement would ease the mind of submitters.

After the meeting, tenant Alister Webb said he was happy with the decision councillors had made.

However, he still had concerns around tenants’ understanding of the accommodation supplement.

He said a meeting needed to be held .

"All tenants together with a spokesman and that’s [the supplement] got to be explained to them properly because I don’t think it was."

karen.pasco@odt.co.nz

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