A BASINGSTOKE grandmother has criticised Sentinel Housing Association after they raised the rent for her garage by 20 per cent.

Jean Hughes, of Normanton Road, Oakridge, was told by the Kingsclere Road-based housing association earlier this year that it was increasing her rent from £10 per week to £12 per week, meaning that she will have to pay an extra £104 a year to rent her garage in a nearby block.

The 70-year-old grandmother-of-two has called on Sentinel to lower the rent back to the original rate because she believes it is not justified.

She claims that Sentinel does not maintain the garages and has only been out to paint them twice in 30 years.

The mother-of-two told The Gazette: “Two coats of paint in 30 years is not maintaining them. Some of the garages are not being rented out and I feel they are putting the rent up on ours because they aren’t renting them all out.

“I also have to pay 20 per cent value added tax on that for them to do nothing, really. We have had it broken into a few times.

“I want to see them put the rent back down to £10 a week or at least be in line with inflation as this is well above inflation.

“Two-and-half per cent wouldn’t have been quite as bad but an extra £2 a week on top of everything else is hard.”

Angela Gibson, income and lettings manager at Sentinel Housing Association, said: “We raised our garage rental prices earlier this year. This was the first time we’d increased them since 2008 when the Government changed the rate of VAT.

“We have a rolling, five-year programme of work, which we carry out on our garages. This includes looking at the roof, the condition of the doors, timber frame repairs and re-decoration.

“This year we’re improving 600 of our garages. As we don’t think it’s fair for customers who live in our homes to subsidise the cost of doing this work the rental income we get from our garage customers will help to pay for the improvements we’re making.”