INCREASING rents above inflation is not sustainable and could put people at risk of arrears or lock them into a benefits trap, according to a housing watchdog.

Michael Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Housing Regulator, told the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) conference in Glasgow many social landlords now regularly raise rents faster than inflation. He said that, at a time when tenants' incomes are being squeezed, there was a need for a debate on affordability.

Mr Cameron said: "Are you content to allow costs to tenants to climb above inflation year on year? Does this risk locking increasing numbers of tenants into a reliance on benefits?"

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Alan Ferguson, director of the CIH in Scotland, said: "There are myriad pressures on landlords' finances in the current climate but this has to be balanced against the intense and increasing pressure on tenants."