DUDLEY Council tenants face a double whammy this year with not just a rent hike but an extra week to pay for.

Rent bills from the council show the year has 53 weeks because 2024 is a leap year and the authority has confirmed people will be expected to pay up.

Tenants are already reeling from a 7.7 percent rent increase which takes the average cost up to £96.21 per week.

Council tenant Paul Gawdan, from Upper Gornal, said: “So because there’s one additional day in the year, they see 53 financial weeks and charge for 53 week’s rent. 

“This means that for people like me, unable to work due to disability, we are hit again with another financial loss. 

“We’re crippled by the cost of living crisis, now this.” 

Kathryn Jones, director of housing at Dudley Council, said: “The local authority’s weekly rent charges are due on a Monday, and in the 2024/25 financial year there are 53 Mondays so it is known as a 53-week year. 

“This quirk of the calendar happens every five or six years.

“So while tenants will be paying a week’s extra rent this year, it is balanced off by the fact that in all other years tenants will pay a day’s less rent. 

“This is because 52 rent weeks multiplied by seven days is 364 days, not 365.”

People on housing benefits will get the bill paid for them but tenants relying on Universal Credit will have to find the money themselves because the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will not fund the additional week.

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents England’s housing associations, is calling for a change in the law on Universal Credit to cover the extra week and is urging people to write to their MP demanding action.

In a statement on their website, the NHF says: “We’re concerned about the impact this will have on residents, especially during a cost of living crisis, where many are struggling financially.

“Our NHF quarterly survey on Universal Credit shows that residents who claim Universal Credit are more likely to be behind on their rent compared to other residents. This could cause financial and wellbeing issues for residents.

“If residents are unable to pay rents, housing associations will also risk facing financial difficulties, during a time of rising costs. This could amount to millions worth of shortfalls for the sector.”

The issue is not just a problem for council tenants, anyone who pays weekly and is charged on a Monday has a 53 week year to cope with.

Kathryn Jones added: “It affects all tenants who rent a property under a weekly tenancy starting on a Monday, regardless of who their landlord is.”