Rents for more than 12,500 council house tenants in Northamptonshire could rise by about 6%.
Northampton Borough Council's cabinet will consider the proposals to increase average rents by between £3 and £4 a week.
The council said it needed the extra money to pay the government a subsidy of £2.9m.
It said even with the rent increase it would have to find £500,000 to make up a shortfall in the money it owed.
It also said if it chose not to increase rents at all the £2.9m would still have to be paid to the government.
The council's cabinet member with responsibility for housing, Sally Beardsworth, said: "These are tough economic times for many people.
"But we have to follow the government's rent policy and are in a position where we have no alternative but to increase rents.
"Even then, the increase will not fund all the money that the council has to pay back to the government.
"The council's housing revenue account - the money that supports council properties - will be £500,000 out of pocket."