We have written to you recently about changes which will be made to your rent charges in April.
Changes are being made in line with the tenancy agreement in place and the government regulations for social housing rent charges. We will give you at least 28 days’ notice of changes.
When increases are made to the rent charges, these are needed to help maintain and invest in everyone’s homes. This allows us to offer a range of housing, care and support. We are aware that this will affect monthly or weekly payments, and we will help as needed, to make sure you are ready for this change in April 2020.
Rents will change from 1 April 2020 if you pay your rent monthly, and 6 April 2020 if you pay your rent weekly. If you think you will experience financial difficulty as a result of these changes, we are here to support you. Please contact our customer service team on 01772 667002.
To help you understand the changes to your payments, below are some frequently asked questions from our customers.
The amount you pay will depend on the type of tenancy and agreement that you have with us. If you are unsure, your tenancy or lease agreement will tell you what type of tenancy you have.
Social housing rent charges are regulated by the government. In April 2020, the government policy allows for charges to increase by a maximum of 2.7% (the September 2019 Consumer Price Index of 1.7% + 1%).
Affordable tenancy rents are set at 80% of the local market rent when a new tenancy is issued. These rents are also regulated by the government and can increase by a maximum of 2.7% in April 2020. If there are any chargeable services provided they are included within the overall rent.
Specialised supported accommodation and temporary accommodation
There are exemptions to the government regulation for some tenancies such as specialised supported accommodation and temporary accommodation. For these, a very small number of customers will see an increase in their rent charge of up to 3.4% (the September 2019 Retail Price Index of 2.4% + 1%). Other exceptions include customers living in some student accommodation, registered nursing care, care homes and refuge units.
Market rent, mortgage rescue and shared ownership
The rent review applied to market rent, mortgage rescue and shared ownership properties will be determined by the relevant clause within your lease or tenancy agreement. This will say what increase can be applied to the charges.
Service charges are for services provided to you. They are affected by costs of employment, overheads and inflation rates. We do not make a profit on service charge costs.
Service charges may include landscaping, cleaning communal areas, utilities (gas, electricity, water and telephone) fire safety equipment, lift maintenance or communal window cleaning.
Are service charges paid for by Housing Benefit?
If you receive financial assistance with your rent, service charges can be eligible for housing benefit (HBE) or ineligible for housing benefit (HBI) and only those charges eligible will be taken into consideration when assessing any entitlement you may receive. If you receive housing benefit, the service charges will have been assessed in line with housing benefit regulations.
Are service charges paid for by Universal Credit?
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit (which includes a housing cost element) there may be some variances to what is and isn’t an eligible service charge. If there is a query with any of your service charges eligibility you should refer to your Local Authority or Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) in the first instance.
If you claim or are in the process of claiming Housing Benefit, it is important you contact your Housing Benefit Office as soon as possible to ensure your Housing Benefit payments reflect the new charges.
If you do not receive Housing Benefit, then you should check whether you are now entitled to it following the change to your charges.
If you claim Universal Credit (UC) and you have an online account, you will need to report this change on or after the 6 April 2020 within your assessment period, and not before. You can do this via your online account or via the Universal Credit helpline.
We want to support you if you need help as a result of the changes to charges. Please contact our customer service team on 01772 667002. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm (excluding bank holidays).
Rent is our main source of income and helps to pay for maintenance, repairs, and housing management, as well as supporting us to continue investing in communities. Generating income from rent enables us to offer a range of housing, care and support.
Social housing rent charges are regulated by the government. Between 2016 and April 2020 rent charges were reduced each year by 1% in line with government policy. Your charges may have still changed in previous years due to changes in service charges.
The total rent you pay will depend on the type of property and tenancy that you have. We have different property and tenancy types and tenancy start dates within the same areas. This will result in differences in rent charges where the properties and tenancy types are not the same. Your rent will be compliant with the terms on which the property was let to you.
Annual charges are based on the usage taken from meter readings and allow for inflation and contract prices set by the utility companies.
This may be for an existing service not previously included in your service charge, or a new service requested by your local housing team to improve your communal services, for example landscape improvements.
For your safety we have reviewed the tests and checks of safety equipment located in our properties. At some of our properties this has resulted in an increase in the frequency of visual checks and operational tests of equipment, including water outlets, fire safety equipment, play areas and lifts.
This will include at least one of the following: lightning protection, door servicing, electronic gate servicing, washer or dryer ventilation servicing.
This is to cover management costs such as staff time, systems and offices in order to deliver the services provided. This is calculated at 15% of the total service charge.
This can include wear and tear/replacement or provision of communal carpets, furniture, grit boxes, washing machines or washing lines.
This is your landlord’s contribution towards the cost of your rent and service charges which has been agreed for the financial year 2020/2021.
The following services are charged to home owners