Sam Manners House site
Greenwich Council has pledged to start work on 750 new homes by next year Credit: The Greenwich Wire

Tenants who move into Greenwich Council’s new homes will be paying higher rents than those in other council housing, it has emerged.

The council has pledged to start work on 750 new council homes by next year – so far, 287 have been approved with others in the Greenwich Builds programme due to be rubber-stamped by councillors in the coming months.

Average rents in Greenwich will rise to an average of £91.65 per week from April plus an average £15.08 service charge. The rents are the lowest in London and critics say this has led to poor maintenance on the borough’s estates.

Tenants moving into relet properties – about five per cent each year – now pay a higher rate after their rents were hiked by up to 6.7 per cent.

But those moving into the Greenwich Builds homes will be paying a higher rate altogether – the City Hall-set London Affordable Rent, which starts at £161.71 for a one-bedroom flat, rising to £190.23 for a four-bedroom home. Councillors are due to approve the plan next week.

Sam Manners House
The new rates will apply to blocks such as these on the Sam Manners House site in east Greenwich

London Affordable Rent has been criticised by Shelter as being too expensive for those on the lowest incomes. “London Affordable Rent is not social rent and it does not meet the affordability needs of the households on lowest wages in the way that social rent does,” the charity said in a report last year.

“London Affordable Rent may have a role to play in addressing the housing needs of households who are not at the sharpest end of London’s housing emergency. However, our analysis shows that it is social rent housing which London desperately needs in order to resolve its housing emergency in the long-term.”

Greenwich says in a report to senior councillors to be discussed next week that it needs to charge the higher rate to make the new-builds viable.

“Where the build costs are high, this means that rents at [the level currently charged for new tenancies] are not enough to finance the build; the scheme drains the housing revenue account and is a drag on the maintenance of existing council homes,” the report says.

Introducing London Affordable Rent on the first Greenwich Builds homes would save £12 million over 30 years, it adds, calling the higher rate “a reflection of the quality of home that is being provided, the energy efficiency of the home, and is significantly cheaper than ‘intermediate’ rents”.

London Affordable Rent still qualifies for the housing element of Universal Credit, the report says.

Greenwich is also hiking costs for those who rent garages – which currently start at at just £1.86 per week, compared with £11.41 in Lewisham and £16.30 in Southwark. They will now be increased to between £5.86 and £12.69 per week.

The proposed rise will be discussed by the council’s cabinet, its main decision-making body, next Wednesday.

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