We would like to help you understand the changes to your charges and help you be ready for these changes. We know you may have questions and have included below some of the questions that are asked most frequently by our customers.
If you have a question that is not listed below, or you would like to discuss a question further please contact us:
Help and supportIf you have a question that is not listed or you would like to discuss anything further, please contact our customer service team.
Tel: 0345 266 9760
Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm (excluding bank holidays).
Rent and service charges FAQs
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 rent charges are regulated by the government. From April 2020, the government policy allows for charges to be increased. The maximum increase will be based on Consumer Price Index of 3.1% as at September 2021 +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. These increases will be based on Consumer Price Index of 3.1% as at September 2021 +1%.
If there are any chargeable services provided, they are included in the overall rent.
Specialised supported accommodation and temporary accommodation
There are exceptions to the government’s rent regulation for some social tenancies such as specialised supported accommodation and temporary accommodation. These increases will be based on the Retail Price Index (rather than the Consumer Price Index) of 4.9% as at September 2021 +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 in your lease or tenancy agreement. This will say what increase can be applied to the charges.
Why are you reviewing rents?
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 helps us to keep essential services running throughout the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to meet the demand for repairs. Our priority is to keep our customers and colleagues safe. We continue 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 also need to meet the additional costs of ensuring we can keep our colleagues and customers safe whilst working in homes. We are continuing to deliver our planned improvement works in homes and investing in both our existing homes and building new homes to meet the increasing need for affordable housing.
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. If you would like to talk to us about the support available, please contact our customer service team as soon as possible.
If you do not receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit at the moment, you should check whether you are now entitled to it following the change to your 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 sometimes means a difference in rent charges where the properties and tenancy types are not the same. Your rent is reviewed in line with the terms set out in your tenancy agreement.
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.
Please contact your Local Authority. Some local Housing Benefit departments may accept an email or posted copy from you, please check with them first.
We will amend your payment automatically and send you a separate letter confirming your Direct Debit instalment amounts in mid-March 2022.
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 and we can set this up for you over the telephone.
If you live in a home where you receive a service to any part of your building or estate, we will charge you for the costs to deliver the service. Service charges are affected by costs of employment, overheads and inflation rates.
Examples of services you may receive are cleaning communal areas, utilities (gas, electricity, water and telephone) fire safety equipment, lift maintenance, health and safety, communal window cleaning and landscaping.
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.
Service charges may be included as part of your housing benefit eligible rent. If you receive housing benefit, the service charges will be assessed in line with housing benefit regulations and any eligible charges will be paid for by housing benefit.
We will let you know if your services can be paid by Housing Benefit in the breakdown included with your increase letter. Services noted as “HBE” (Housing Benefit Eligible) can be paid, and those noted as “HBI” (Housing Benefit Ineligible) cannot. This is decided by Housing Benefit Regulations.
The Universal Credit Housing Costs element may include an amount towards service charges. These service charges must be a condition of your rent or leasehold agreement. If you have a query with any of your service charges eligibility you should contact the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) in the first instance.
Annual charges are based on the usage taken from meter readings and allow for inflation and contract prices set by the utility companies.
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 also includes the annual auditing of the health and safety contracts. The increase in frequency and increase in checks has meant some service charges have increased.
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.
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.
Service charges are payable by homeowners on a yearly basis for services provided. The services you are charged for will be outlined in your lease /transfer. We’re responsible for maintaining our buildings and looking after the shared areas in and around our blocks and estates. You will therefore contribute to the cost of this through the service charge payment.
These services depend on where you live and may include but are not limited to the following:
- Maintenance charges, including contributions to maintenance reserves, day to day repairs and annual/cyclical work
- Management fee which is a contribution towards our costs for managing the services that you receive.