Rent and service charges: England
Published on 13 February 2023
Annual Charge Review 1 April 2023
Each year we review your rent and service charges. If your rent and services are to change from 1 April 2023, we will send you a letter about your new rent and service charges between 13 and 28 February 2023.
We would like to help you understand the changes to your rent and service charges and help you to be ready for these changes.
We know you may have questions about these charges and have included below some of the questions that are asked most frequently by our customers.
We understand this may have an impact on you. If you are concerned you will not be able to make these payments or have a question that is not listed below, please contact us and we will discuss the options and support available to you.
Cost of living support
We also offer a wide range of support to help with the cost of living:
- Money and benefits
- Accessing emergency food
- Staying warm
- Employment and training
For more information on the support available, please click here.
Frequently asked questions
How are my rent charges calculated?
The amount you pay will depend on the type of agreement, start date of tenancy and type of property you have with us. If you do not know what type of tenancy you have your tenancy or lease agreement will tell you.
Social rent charges are regulated by the government. From April 2023, the government policy allows for charges to be increased by up to 7%. Previously rent reviews allowed for a maximum increase of Consumer Price Index in September 2022 + 1%. To limit the impact of inflation on rents the Government set a lower figure of 7% to cap rent increases for the year April 2023 to March 2024.
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. Previously rent reviews allowed for a maximum increase of Consumer Price Index in September 2022 + 1%. To limit the impact of inflation on rents the Government set a lower figure of 7% to cap rent increases for the year April 2023 to March 2024. 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 Consumer Price Index of 10.1% as of September 2022 + 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. For the rental period April 2023 to March 2024, we have limited the rental increase to 7% in line with the Government rent cap for social housing and affordable housing and we have not exceeded that in the rent review.
How can I manage my account online?
Please click here to register or log in to manage your account online. Having an online account makes it even easier to manage your home with us. It's free, easy to register and you get all these great benefits:
- Manage your money: check your account, history, and payments
- Access anytime: 24/7, 365 days a year
- Safe and secure: we use the latest security software and password protection
- No more paper: reduce post, cut down filing and help the environment
- Keep up to date: change personal details like telephone numbers and email addresses
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. Without this money, we wouldn’t be able to meet the demand for repairs and essential services. We also use it to continue our investment in building new homes for those who need them most.
My tenancy has rent-free weeks, which weeks will they be in 2023 and 2024?
If your tenancy includes 4 rent free weeks, rent will not be charged on your account for
- Week commencing 3 April 2023
- Week commencing 25 December 2023
- Week commencing 1 January 2024
- Week commencing 25 March 2024
If your tenancy includes 2 rent free weeks, rent will not be charged on your account for
- Week commencing 03 April 2023
- Week commencing 25 December 2023
If you pay monthly by Direct Debit or Standing Order your payments are calculated to give you the rent-free weeks. You must continue your payments during the periods containing ‘rent-free’ weeks.
What if I can't afford to pay the new amount?
We want to support customers who may need help if they are experiencing financial difficulty or may find themselves experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the changes to the rent or service charges. If you would like to talk to us about the support available, please contact our customer service team on 01772 666246 as soon as possible. You can also click here to find help and support available to help with finances.
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 by visiting www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators or by calling the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644.
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.
What do I need to do to change my payment amount?
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.
If you claim Housing Benefit, please contact your Local Authority to report this change. Some local Housing Benefit departments may accept an email or a posted copy of the letter, sent to you in February 2023, advising you of the change to your charges - 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 2023.
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.
What are service charges?
If you live in a home where you receive a service to any part of your building or area, 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.
Why have my service charges changed?
Your service charge reflects the cost of maintaining our buildings and looking after the shared areas around your home. We have reviewed all our service charges this year and made savings where we can however many of the costs covered by the charge have increased this year (e.g., the cost of materials for repairs and energy costs) and as a result your service charge may need to increase.
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.
Previously my service charges were listed as one cost, why are they now listed as several charges?
We want to ensure that you can clearly see what makes up the service charge cost for your property so going forward we will break this down, so it's clear what the charge relates to.
Are service charges paid for by Housing Benefit?
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 in the letter, sent to you in February 2023, advising you of the change to your charges. 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.
Are service charges paid for by Universal Credit?
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 Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 in the first instance.
How are my personal or communal utility charges calculated?
Annual charges are based on the usage taken from meter readings and contract prices set by the utility companies. Our new energy contracts have higher energy rate charges than our previous contracts and means the cost to you will increase for the energy used in 2023 and 2024.
What is covered by the health and safety 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. 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.
What is the administration charge for?
This is to cover management costs such as our people’s time, systems, and offices in order to deliver the services provided.
What is the charge for furniture and equipment for?
This can include the repair, replacement or provision of communal carpets, furniture, grit boxes, washing machines or washing lines.
Why do I have a new service charge for trees?
A tree survey is carried out on all our communal trees in your area every 3 years and the cost for this is split over 3 years so you will always see this charge. In addition, we also charge for the cost of maintaining the trees which is specified in the survey results. The tree surveys and works provided by Places for People are required to ensure the health and safety of trees within the land owned by Places for People to make our communities remain clean, safe and tidy for our customers.
I am a homeowner, why are charges included?
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 or 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.
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, please: