Council tenants in Aberdeenshire are facing rent rises nine times the rate of inflation.
Plans have been unveiled to increase the cost of living in a local authority home by 4.5% – about £3 a week on average.
The proposed move was announced just days after the Press and Journal revealed there are nearly 14,000 people on Aberdeenshire Council’s waiting list and the backlog would take 14 years to clear at current rates.
And a leading homelessness charity warned last night that it would hit people on low incomes hardest.
Shelter Scotland said the inflation-busting rise – the current UK rate is just 0.5% – would have a huge impact on families already struggling to make ends meet.
The increase would be applied from April 6 if it is backed at a meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday.
Shelter Scotland director, Graeme Brown, said “Any rise in housing costs hits people on the lowest incomes hardest.
“Increasing council house rents well above the inflation level will only make it even harder for already struggling households to make ends meet and keep their home.”
The proposal would result in tenants paying, on average, £65.73 a week – about £3 more than they do currently.
Last night, the SNP’s spokeswoman for housing, Anne Allan, said that she would be discussing the proposal on Monday with party colleagues.
The Peterhead North and Rattray councillor said: “The council have got to maintain the houses and the council have got to run a business, basically.
“We’ll be discussing it at our group meeting on Monday.”
But the chairman of the community council in one of Aberdeenshire’s biggest towns, Fraserburgh, said the local authority should be building more houses instead of increasing rents.
Ronnie McNab said: “There’s a vast shortage.
“It’s abysmal. The people are being hit left, right and centre.
“An increase in rents at this moment is just not feasible. The way things are, people are struggling as it is.”
Since 2002, rent has been set for council properties using a “pound per point” system which evaluates a home’s physical characteristics and attributes.
This is currently being reviewed by the authority.
Ritchie Johnson, the council’s communities chief, said the exercise to revamp the system would reflect the improved energy efficiency within the housing stock.
“Once the exercise is complete and energy efficiency ratings are in place for all properties, the outcome of the review will be reported to the social work and housing committee, before February 2017,” he added.
Area committees within Aberdeenshire will have a say in the formation of the resulting policy.
Figures released last year revealed that the north-east was the most expensive place to live in the country, with rent in the private sector having increased by 40% over a four-year period.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom flat was £664, while for a two-bedroom property it was £898.
Rent increased by 25.5% over the same period for a one-bedroom house in Aberdeen.
In comparison, average rents in the Lothian and Greater Glasgow areas increased by 17.2% and 11.1% respectively.