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Rent and service charge FAQs

At Great Places we use government guidelines to set your rent each year. This means some of our customers may see an increase in their rent annually, and some may see a decrease. Any changes will be detailed in your tenancy or lease agreement. For more information on what your rent pays for please see below.

Some customers may pay a service charge or may be receiving services as part of the rent that they pay. Some of these services are eligible for Housing Benefit and some are ineligible, meaning Housing Benefit cannot cover these charges. For more information please see below.

Why is my rent increasing?

Our rents changed from April 2022 and for most of our customers it went up by 4.1%. The government sets the amount of rent we can charge each year based on a formula using the September Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, to make sure rent levels are capped and remain at an affordable level. If you’re a homeowner your rent will increase in line with the terms of your lease or transfer documents.

By how much are you increasing my rent and how have you calculated this?

Rents for most customers will increase by 4.1% in line with the Consumer Price Index at September 2021 which is 3.1% plus 1%. Some rents are set on different formulas depending on your tenancy agreements.

What is the Consumer Price Index?

This is a figure used to measure inflation. It reflects how much the price of common goods and services changes over time. The Consumer Prices Index is higher than last year because the cost of goods and services has increased more sharply than it has done in previous years. This means the amount rents can increase has also gone up.

What does my rent pay for?

Rent is used to pay for repairs and improvements to customers’ homes; improving energy efficiency and works towards zero carbon targets; and management and support services. You can learn more about how your money was spent in 2020/21 in our Customer Annual Report 2021.

What will you spend the additional rent income on?

This year (22/23) we plan to spend over £30m on repairs and investment to keep you homes safe and of good quality and £250,000 on aids and adaptations to help households with support needs to live independently. We’ll be investing more in our Hardship Fund to support you and community organisations, and employment and skills training for those in need of help and support. We’re freezing rents on some homes with the lowest Energy Performance Certificate ratings and accelerating investment in these home to get them to a C rating – saving you on household running costs.

What do I do if I cannot afford the increase?

We’re here to help. Our priority is to support you and prevent you getting into rent arrears. If you’re concerned about the rent increase and would like advice on claiming benefits or managing your money check out the money advice section at greatplaces.org.uk or contact your Neighbourhood Services Manager or our Independence and Wellbeing Worker. You may be entitled to welfare benefits and other support available through our work with local foodbanks, community partners, and National Energy Action.

Our Community Investment Service can also help you to manage your household finances – from finding a job, upskilling or re-training to budgeting and help with affording utility and other bills. We can also help you get to grips with Universal Credit and debt – get in touch with us by email at community.investment@greatplaces.org.uk.

I am on Universal Credit, will I have to re-apply and will this mean weeks of delays in my rent being paid and accumulating rent arrears?

You will not have to complete a brand new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions. Once we write to inform you of the new rent Universal Credit will prompt you via your journal after Monday 4 April so that you can advise them of your new rent and service charge. This is the only time you need to respond about the new rent.

What if I claim Housing Benefit?

If you live in one of our homes we will inform the Housing Benefit team at your local council of the new charges from April 2022, we always advise customers to speak to Housing Benefit directly if you have queries or concerns.

What if Universal Credit does not cover the increase?

If your Universal Credit allowance isn’t increased to cover the additional rent increase, we encourage you to get in touch with your Neighbourhood Services Manager or Independence and Wellbeing Worker who can direct you to a partner organisation which can help you budget for the increase.

Do I have to adjust my Direct Debit with my bank?

Don’t worry, your direct debit will be adjusted automatically. After we write to you at the end of February notifying you of your rent increase, we will adjust your direct debit and you will receive information from Allpay to confirm your new monthly payments. If you have a repayment plan for rent arrears we will add the additional amount onto your monthly direct debit total. We will amend your new payments in line with the new charge.

What if I'm in arrears?

We’re here to help. Get in touch with your Neighbourhood Services Manager, Property Manager in Plumlife or your Independence and Wellbeing Worker if you have rent arrears and want to discuss increasing your payments or direct debit to cover this debt.

When did my rent increase?

The letters telling you of the rent increase were sent to you in February 2022. The new rent amount was applied from the beginning of April 2022.

What is a Service Charge

Some of our homes also include a service charge for the cost of services within shared, communal areas. Service charges are included in your rent and cover services such as window cleaning, communal gardening, maintenance of lifts and other services.

How is my Service Charge increase set?

Service charges are based on the actual amount we expect services to cost each year. This means charges may go up or down as the costs of providing these services change. We have chosen to subsidise increases at some schemes for affordability reasons. Customers who have a service charge will receive a detailed breakdown of their charge.