Changes to rent and service charges 2022

 

04 February 2022
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 April 2022.
 

Why is my rent increasing?


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 service and where there has been an increase in the cost to provide this service.

We’ve also reviewed fire safety in all our buildings following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire. Your safety is our number one priority. There’s an increase in the fire safety related services we’re now delivering. We’re carrying out more fire safety inspections by specialist contractors. We’re also investing in fire safety measures and maintaining fire safety equipment. Now, as ever, we’ve an obligation to meet fire safety regulations and follow government advice. We must ensure all our buildings continue to meet the highest standards.
 

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 dedicated Income and Financial Inclusion teams, trained to help you maximise your benefits and manage your money. 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.

Independently you can get free advice and support from your local Citizens Advice, or from StepChange if you’re struggling with debts. 
 

How can I get support for paying the new amount?


If you’re unsure whether you’re entitled to benefits, 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.

What is the timescale for this rent increase?


Your rent will change from 4 April 2022 (1 April if you’re a Shared Owner or Leaseholder).  We'll write to you in February 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.
 

I pay monthly – how do I calculate my new payments?


To calculate your new monthly payment, you should multiply your new weekly rent by 52, then divide by 12.
 

Do I need to notify the council or DWP about this change?


If you currently receive Housing Benefit and 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 about your rent change on or after the date of your rent increase (i.e. 1 April or 4 April), not before. Please use the ‘confirm your housing costs’ form, which will appear as a ‘to-do’ on your online journal from 1 April.
 

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.  We’ll 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 refuse to pay?


We appreciate you may be unhappy about the rent increase. However you must pay your rent under the terms of your tenancy or lease. If you don’t pay your full rent, arrears will build up and we’ll take action to recover the unpaid rent. You may end up facing more debt and court costs, making things even more difficult. If you have concerns about affordability, our Income and Financial Inclusion teams want to help.
 

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