FURIOUS residents have hit out at Aster after it hiked garage rents across the Test Valley.
The shock rise has sparked fears of parking chaos on many residential streets if dozens of motorists are forced to give up their beloved garages and park on the roads instead.
Aster Group informed customers their garage licence fee would be increasing in April, stating in most cases this would be by 2.5 per cent.
However many residents have said their rent for their “standard” garage will be increasing from £44.96 to £94.22 – which is a rise of more than 100 per cent.
The housing provider, which owns and manages 7,000 garages in the south of England, said it was standardising licence fees across its portfolio.
However residents are up in arms over the increase, with many threatening to hand their keys back.
Concerns include how little maintenance is done, the size of the garages and how pricing varies between Aster tenants and non-Aster tenants. Alan Carter, of Nursling, said: “On contacting the Aster Group regarding the price increase on the garage that I had been renting for the last 35 years I was informed that my garage had been reclassified as a standard garage. As a result of this my rent would increase by 59 per cent on last years price.
“Robert Ireland, of the Aster Group, informed me that my garage was classified as being of a good size and condition. When I pointed out that it was impossible for me to drive my car (a VW Passat saloon) into the garage and open the door to get out his answer was ‘well you can’t expect a modern car to fit into a 1950s garage’ – Perhaps they should have been reclassified as a bicycle shed!”
Another disgruntled garage renter, Vince McGarry, has started a petition on social media named: “Stop Aster Groups unfair garage rent rise.”
The issue has also caught the attention of Romsey MP Caroline Nokes.
She said: “I am concerned to have heard from a significant number of constituents about the planned increases in rent for licensees of Aster garages. I understand they have the right to increase garage license fees however they see fit, but I have written again to the housing association to ask them to consider the impact this will have on those whose garage fees are increasing, in some cases by over 100 per cent.
“There does seem to be a disparity between the various fees being quoted to residents in what is being advertised as a ‘standardisation’ of fees across their stock. I hope Aster will consider looking again at these planned increases to ensure that my constituents are not left out of pocket.”
A spokesman for Aster that following a review of fees, a decision was made to more closely reflect market prices.
“All of our customers, regardless of location, will pay the same amount for a garage of similar quality and size,” he added.
“On average, the license fees will still be approximately 20 per cent below open market levels.”
Unhappy customers who would like to give up their garage can visit aster.co.uk