MEET Karen Matthews and her neighbour William Martin. The both live in identical houses on the same Coney Hill street – yet they’ve been paying different levels of rent to Gloucester City Homes.
Karen has been forking out £104-per-week while William has been paying £94.
It was only when both took themselves down to debt advice specialist Garry Mills, from GL Communities, that they realised Karen had been paying over the odds.
She has now saved herself more than £500 per year and is in line to get some money back too after Gloucester City Homes discovered it had been charging her too much.
But there are fears that other residents of Hailes Road, or indeed other areas of the city, could be paying too much as well.
Mr Mills said: “They are both identical properties and they have both had the same work done to them so we were at a loss as to why they were charging Karen more than William.
“It hasn’t been fair on here because she is holding two jobs down day and night to try and pay her rent.”
Lisa Howarth, head of housing services at Gloucester City Homes, said: “A number of homes have been redesignated from four bedrooms to three bedrooms due to a change in the layout of the property following Decent Homes improvements and rents to affected homes in Hailes Road have been adjusted. “Unfortunately, the rent for Miss Matthew’s home was not adjusted, an error for which we apologise. We have now rectified this and backdated the adjustment to her rent account.”
In 2002 the Government announced that it wished all social housing landlords to ‘converge’ to similar rents for similar properties over a 10 year period, based on a formula including average earnings for the area, number of bedrooms and property values.
Full convergence should have taken place by 2012 but the Government has now said that it must happen by this year instead. Some rents would have to come down in real terms and others would rise. For Gloucester this meant a rent increase of 5.07 per cent in 2014.