About rent & service charges

From April 2019 the amount of rent you pay will be changing.

It’s important that you know how our rents and other charges are worked out, so we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand. Find out more about these changes below.

Are you claiming Universal Credit?

If so, you must let the DWP know of any change of circumstances that might affect your payment – this includes any changes to the amount of rent you pay.

You should have received a letter recently detailing changes to your rent from April. To ensure that your housing costs are paid at the correct rate, you must update your online journal with your new April rent details.

As any changes to your rent will become effective on 1 April, you need to make sure you update your Universal Credit online journal as soon as this change occurs.

If you are experiencing problems paying your rent, please contact your income management officer.

Frequently asked questions about changes to your rent

How has my rent charge changed?

You’ll find details of your new rent labelled Total New Charge on your notification letter.

We’re advising all working age customers, whether currently receiving benefits or not, to pay a little extra in order to get ahead on your rent account. This will help you create a safety buffer for the future in case you have to claim universal credit and experience any delays receiving your payments.

Why has my total charge gone up when I was expecting my rent to go down by 1%?

It may be that you have a service charge element to your total charge.

Our service charges are based on what it costs us to provide services to you and your service charge may have increased by more than the rent reduction.

Just so you know, we do not profit from these service charges; we only charge what it costs to provide you with the service.

What is a service charge?

A service charge is the amount payable in addition to the rent for the delivery of communal services, repairs, maintenance, improvements and the landlord’s cost of management. For leaseholders and shared owners, the service charge includes the cost of building insurance.

What does my rent pay for?

Last year we spent £26 million on repairing and maintaining our homes including improvement works replacing kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors.

Your rent also helps to cover the cost of delivering services – such as local housing management, central support services and paying interest on the money we have borrowed to build new homes.

How do you work out my rent?

We set the rent part of your total payment according to a formula set by the Government. It’s based on the value of the property, the size of the property and average earnings in the area.

For most customers in general needs properties and housing for older people (excluding specialist supported housing) there is good news as they will see their rents decrease by 1.0% as announced by the Government in July 2015. This is now our fourth consecutive year of the rent reduction. Most of our customers will see their rents fall this year, although a small number will see a rise.

Example:
Mandy lives in a general needs property with no service charges, her rent is £100.00 per week.
The decrease of 1% will be £1.00 Her new rent will be £99.00 per week.

Specialist supported housing (Nutfield House), temporary accommodation, and intermediate rent tenants will see an increase based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measure of inflation, from September of the previous year as a base for the increase. It also allows for an additional 1% of rent on top. In September last year, CPI was 2.4%. This means the rent element of the charges you pay us will rise by 3.4% (2.4% CPI + 1.0%).

Please note even if your rent has fallen, this doesn’t necessarily mean your total charge will have reduced as your service charge may have increased by more than the rent reduction.

When will the new charges start?

The new charges will change from 1st April.

Will I need to change my direct debit?

If you pay by direct debit, we will adjust your payment automatically to the new amount including any agreements you have in place. However, if your total charge has gone down, you could use this opportunity to get ahead with your payments or to help clear any arrears you may have.

This will help you create a buffer for the future in case you have to claim Universal Credit and experience any delays receiving your payments. Please let know if you'd like to change your direct debit and keep it at the higher amount and we will arrange this for you.

I would like to change my payment method

Find out about the different ways you can make a payment to us.

What will happen to my benefits if my rent changes?

If you receive housing benefit, we will notify the housing benefit department of the change in your rent. They will make the adjustments to your entitlement and write to you to confirm this.

If you receive a housing payment as part of your Universal Credit claim then you will need to notify Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) via your Universal Credit online journal as soon as this change occurs.

If your rent is reducing, the DWP will treat the reduction as having happened at the beginning of your Universal Credit assessment period even if that is before your rent goes down.

Service charges and other costs

How do we calculate your service charge?

We review our service charges once a year at the same time as carrying out the rent review. These service charges are only used to cover the costs to pay for the services you may receive.

We calculate the estimated cost for providing services based on the previous year's costs plus any known or estimated increases or decreases in cost for the current year and any adjustments for inflation. You pay the estimated costs. At the end of each year, we calculate the difference between the estimated cost you paid and the actual cost of providing the services and any difference between the estimate and the actual is carried forward to the next year’s charges.

The overall cost of the service is then divided between the customers who receive the service - that way each customer only pays for a share of the services they receive.

As an open and transparent organisation, you will receive a service charge statement with details of the cost of each service for your scheme estate or block. You may also exercise your legal right to request a summary of the service charge account for the cost of services you pay for.

What is included in my service charge?
Your service charge may contain one or a number of the following elements (this is not an exhaustive list):
Housing related service charges

Cleaning
This will be for the cleaning of shared areas such as hallways, entrance halls and stairwells.

Gardening
Shared areas such as communal greens, hedges or the removal of weeds and general maintenance of parking areas.

Heating and lighting
Heating and lighting in shared areas such as hallways, entrance halls and stairwells.

Servicing and repairing doors and entrances
This covers the servicing and repairing of door-entry systems into schemes and shared entrance buildings.

Servicing and repairing lifts
This may be a shared lift or in some circumstances, a personal lift.

Fire equipment
This is for servicing fire equipment in shared areas and may include items such as smoke detectors or emergency lighting.

Other contract services
This could be for the maintenance of items such as CCTV, special hoists and baths, waste water pumping stations, communal TV aerials, car park barriers and security, pest control and electrical testing.

Non-contract services
This may include items such as water rates, collecting rubbish and removing graffiti.

Service repairs – shared areas
These are estate or communal area repairs such as heating or lighting repairs. In some cases, this may include white good repairs for individuals.

Caretaking services
If your scheme has a caretaker, these charges will apply.

Fund for replacing capital items.
This is to account for the replacement of equipment such as lifts and door-entry systems, fire equipment, TV aerial, car park barriers, white goods and CCTV which cannot be repaired.

Central management of services
A charge for the administration of our service contracts, paying contractors and other bills, and calculating and administering the charges.

Providing shared facilities
This is where we provide areas for customers to use such as resource flats, shared lounges, shared kitchens and so on.

Additional housing management service
Where we provide services such as site-based scheme managers dealing with housing-related services and so on.

Garages
Garage rents or garage water rates or both.

What if I don’t think I receive these services?
If you have a query with any element of your charge, please provide full details by clicking on the link below.

Contact us about your service charge query.

What is the Enhanced Housing Management charge?
Some of our supported housing customers will have an element to their rent called additional housing management charge. 

It’s the charge we make to people living in our supported accommodation and includes items such as: assisting customers to understand the terms of their occupancy agreement and what they are responsible for;  assisting access to benefit claims; advising and helping to resolve issues when things go wrong; signposting and support with health and mobility issues; from referral to successful installation of aids and adaptations; ensuring the safety and security of occupied buildings; shared areas, and appropriate access; ensuring the specialist accommodation is embraced in the local community and provide additional services through hubs and other community based resources where appropriate.

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