Rent and service charges

Helping you to understand your payments.

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We'd like to let you know that the rent and service charges for your home changed from April 2021. We understand this may have impacted you, and we’d like to give you all the information and support you might need.

Rent changes have been made in line with the tenancy agreement and the Government regulations for social housing rent charges. To help you understand the changes to your charges and explain how the increase has been calculated, below are some frequently asked questions you may have.

If you are concerned you are unable to make these payments or have any questions, please call our customer service team on 0345 266 9760 to discuss the options available to you or if you want more information about financial advice and support. 

We encourage customers who may be struggling financially to visit our Guidance for customers with financial concerns page for more information on the support that is available. There is also additional wellbeing and money advice information on help and support pages.

Rent and service charges FAQs

Why are you reviewing rents during the COVID19 pandemic?

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. Income from rents has allowed us to keep essential services running throughout the current challenges of the pandemic and meet the increased demand for emergency repairs.

Our priority has been to keep our customers and colleagues safe. We have continued to carry out all essential gas and electric works, as well as other essential safety checks. Cleaning and grounds maintenance services have continued in our communities and we have completed repairs in empty properties so we can let them to customers in need of housing. We have also had to meet the additional costs of ensuring we can keep our colleagues and customers safe whilst working in their homes.

What if I can’t afford to pay the new amount?

We want to support customers who may need help as a result of the changes to charges. Please contact our customer service team as soon as possible.

If you do not receive Housing Benefit at the moment, you should check whether you are now entitled to it following the change to your charges. 

Why has my rent charge gone down in previous years?

Social housing rent charges are regulated by the Government. Between 2016 and April 2020 most 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. 

Why do I have a different charge to my friend/neighbour?

The total rent you pay will depend on the type of property and tenancy you have.  We have different property and tenancy types and tenancy start dates within the same areas. This may 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.  

What do I need to do to change my payment amount?

Universal Credit

If you claim Universal Credit, you will need to report this change using your online account or by using the Universal Credit helpline 0800 328 5644, quoting your new rent and service charge amounts.

Reporting the change needs to be done as soon as possible after the new charge starts. After you have reported the change we are asked if this is the correct current charge.

  • If you report it too early your current charge will be your old amount and mean the update is rejected and you will need to report it again once the new charge starts.
  • If you report it too late, after a month from when the charges start, Universal Credit will not backdate the change, and you will miss out on your entitlement and mean you will have to pay the difference.

Housing Benefit

Please contact your Local Authority. Some local Housing Benefit departments may accept an email or posted copy from you, please check with them first. 

Direct Debit

We will amend your payment automatically and send you a separate letter confirming your Direct Debit instalment amounts in mid-March 2021.  

Standing Order

We cannot change your standing order for you. You need to contact your bank direct. You may be able to do this:

  • Online - if you have created an online account with your bank
  • By phone – if you have set up telephone banking
  • In branch – check current opening hours

If you have a repayment agreement in place, you will need to add this amount onto the new charge.

If you would like to start making payments by direct debit, please call us on 0345 266 9760. 

How are my rent charges calculated?

The amount you pay will depend on the type of agreement you have with us. If you do not know or are unsure, your tenancy or lease agreement will tell you.

Social housing

Social housing rent charges are regulated by the Government. From April 2020, the Government policy allows for charges to be increased. These increases will be based on Consumer Price Index + 1%.

For example: The September 2020 Consumer Price Index was 0.5%. This would mean a current charge of £100 per week would increase by 1.5% (£1.50) to £101.50. 

Affordable tenancy

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. These increases will be based on Consumer Price Index + 1%.

For example: The September 2020 Consumer Price Index was 0.5%. This would mean a current charge of £100 per week would increase by 1.5% (£1.50) to £101.50. 

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 the rent increase is calculated on Retail Price Index + 1%.

For example: The September 2020 Retail Price Index was 1.1%. This would mean a current charge of £100 per week would increase by 2.1% (£2.10) to £102.10. 

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.

What are service 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. 

Why do I have new service charges?

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.

Are service charges paid for by Housing Benefit?

For customers who receive financial assistance with their 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?

For those 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. 

Why have my personal or communal utility charges increased?

Annual charges are based on the usage taken from meter readings and allow for inflation and contract prices set by the utility companies. 

What is covered by the ground’s maintenance compliance charge?

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.   

What is covered by the responsive repairs and servicing contracts charge?

This will include at least one of the following: lightning protection, door servicing, electronic gate servicing, washer or dryer ventilation servicing.  

What is the administration charge for?

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.   

What is the charge for furniture and equipment for?

This can include wear and tear/replacement or provision of communal carpets, furniture, grit boxes, washing machines or washing lines. 

What is the landlord’s contribution?

This is your landlord’s contribution towards the cost of your rent and service charges which has been agreed for the financial year 2021/2022. 

I am a homeowner, why are charges included?

The following services are charged to homeowners 

  • Maintenance charges, including contributions to maintenance reserves, day to day repairs and annual/cyclical work
  • Insurance
  • In addition to the services, a management charge is applied which is based on the number and complexity of services being delivered.

I can’t find an answer to my question

These are the questions asked most often by our customers. If these do not answer your question or you would like to discuss a question further, please call us on 0345 266 9760.