Changes to rent and service charge from April 2021

 

18 February 2021

IMAGE: A person with a debit card at a laptop

We’ll soon be writing to you with your annual rent and service charge increase letter. It will explain how much rent you’ll need to pay us from 5 April this year.

Every year we review rents, in line with government legislation. We’re raising rent, as we want to continue delivering good quality services to you. This includes repairing, maintaining and improving your home. We also want to invest in our homes and neighbourhoods and plan for future generations.
 

Why are my service charges increasing?

Your service charge covers the cost of services we provide to you, your block and/or estate. With your rent increase letter, you’ll receive a breakdown of your service charges. This will show you exactly how much you pay for each of the services and where there has been an increase in the cost to provide this service.
 

What is the timescale for this rent increase?

Your rent will change from 5 April 2021.  We'll write to you in February 2021 to let you know what your individual rent and service charge will be.  This will give you at least one month’s notice for the change.
 

How can I get support for paying the new amount?

If you currently receive Housing Benefit and if it’s paid directly to us, we‘ve already told your local authority about your new rent and charges - you don’t need to do anything.

If it’s paid to you, you’ll need to let your local authority know so they can recalculate your payments. If you receive help for housing costs in your Universal Credit, you must let the DWP know your rent is changing. You'll need to do this on or after 5 April 2021.

If you’re unsure, our team are on hand to answer any questions you have about the benefits system, help you make a claim and discuss how these changes may affect you. You can call us on 0800 121 60 60.
 

I don’t claim benefits; do I have to adjust my direct debit/ standing order with my bank?

If you pay by direct debit, you don’t need to do anything.  Our Income Team will automatically adjust your direct debit. If you pay by standing order, you’ll need to change this with your bank.
 

How can I query the services I’m charged for?

We’ll be reviewing our services over the coming year and will be in touch with you about this. We’ll look at the levels of service you expect from us and the cost of delivering these services. By understanding your priorities and needs we can ensure we’re investing in the areas that matter most to you.
 

What if I'm unable to afford the increase?

Our priority is to support you to maintain your tenancy and not to fall into rent arrears. We‘ve a dedicated Financial Inclusion Team, trained to help you maximise your benefits and manage your finances. Please take advantage of this service now to help you prepare for the rent increase. For support look on our website, call 0800 121 60 60 or email contactus@optivo.org.uk and ask to speak to the Income Team. Alternatively, there is advice and support available from the local Citizens Advice.
 

What if I refuse to pay?

We appreciate you might be unhappy with the proposed rent increase. If you don’t pay your full rent, rent arrears will build up on your account and we‘ll take action to recover the unpaid rent. You may end up facing more debt and possibly legal fees, making your financial circumstances more difficult. Please talk to us if you have any concerns about paying your rent.
 

Who can I talk to about these changes?

If you’d like to discuss the changes, please call us on 0800 121 6060 or email: contactus@Optivo.org.uk