Rent Review for WHG April 2016

22 February 2016

We will be sending out letters during the week commencing 22 February 2016 to many of our residents to inform them of their rent changes from April 2016.

The letters have been sent to all tenants who hold a tenancy with New Linx Housing Trust, de Montfort Housing Society, and any Waterloo Housing Association tenancy which commenced after April 2013. It includes:

  • A letter confirming the new rent

  • A sheet giving a breakdown of any service charge and what it covers

We hope the information we've sent is clear. However, there may be other things you’d like to know. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the rent review.

Why has my rent decreased or increased?
The Government have introduced changes in how rents are charged by registered providers such as Waterloo Housing Group. The rents will be reduced by 1% each year and for the subsequent 3 years for tenancies. The reduction only applies to the rent element, and not any other charges the resident may have i.e. alarm charges, service charges etc.

The Government, however, has exempted any units deemed as Supported Housing accommodation from the rent reduction. Consequently, some of our residents who live in units which are classed as Supported Housing will have an increase in their rent.

What does the rent include?
Rent is what we charge you for living in one of our homes. The rent you pay reflects where your property is and its size. It also includes an amount for insuring the basic structure of your home, but not the contents. We strongly advise you to take out home contents insurance to protect your furniture and belongings.

What is the service charge for?
If you live in a property with a shared entrance hall, grounds or other communal areas your rent will include a service charge. This means that we will look after the cleaning, gardening, maintenance, lighting and electricity charges for these communal areas. In some places, we use the service charge to provide facilities such as lifts, door entry and emergency call systems.

Your rent review letter includes a sheet giving a breakdown of the items you are paying for through your service charge.

How is the service charge set?
The service charge you pay is based on how much these services cost us to provide. The cost is split between the residents who receive the services. We always aim to get the best value for money from our contractors and the way we manage the services provided.

How often is the rent reviewed?
During the first year of the tenancy, we may review the rent once only. After the first year, the rent is reviewed annually. Any changes to your service charge will be made at the same time. We will give you one calendar month’s notice in writing of any changes to your rent and other charges.

How is the rent review worked out?
Tenancies which are not Supported Housing will have their rents reduced by 1.0%. The reduction only applies to the rent element, and not any other charges the resident may have i.e. alarm charges, service charges etc.

Supported Housing residents will have a rent increase in line with Government guidelines for housing associations. This year the increase is 0.9% which is calculated by the Consumer Price Index plus 1.0 %.

Why is my service charge less than last year?
The service charge is based on what it actually costs us to provide the services and facilities it pays for. We always aim to get the best value for money from our contractors and the way we manage the services provided. As a result, the costs can sometimes reduce and this saving is passed on to you.

What are the benefits of paying my rent by Direct Debit?
For most people, paying by Direct Debit offers the easiest way to pay their rent on time. It is easy to set up and totally flexible too, as you decide the collection date and frequency – weekly, fortnightly, monthly, it’s up to you.

And whenever you are notified of a rent increase you do not need to do anything, as the new amount is collected automatically.

You can set up your Direct Debit over the phone by calling us on 0800 435 016 (option 3).

I am claiming Universal Credit, do I have to inform them of the changes in the rent?
If you are claiming Universal Credit, you must contact your Department for Work and Pensions and notify them of the changes to your rent and other charges.

Do I have to inform Housing Benefit about the changes to my rent?
If you receive Housing Benefit, you do not need to tell your local council about the changes to your rent. Once you have received your revised award notification, if you have any queries please contact us on 0800 435 016, and select option 3 to speak to a member of staff from the Income Team.

I’m worried about paying my rent. What should I do? 
If you are having problems then the sooner you get in touch with us, the easier it will be to help you manage your situation. We will look at your individual circumstances to work out the best option for you.

We may be able to set up a payment agreement so that you can pay off a small amount on a regular basis to help you clear your arrears.  We’ll help you work out what will be a manageable amount for you to pay.

It is vital that you keep up with your rent payments, or you could risk losing your home. So please talk to us if you are having difficulties. Call 0800 435 016 (option 3).