Changes to rents from April 2020

 

09 December 2019

image: person paying rentIn October 2019, the Government published its new Rent Standard.  This outlines the rules for setting rents for social housing.  It states from April 2020 social rents may increase by a maximum of inflation plus 1%.  This follows four years where rents have reduced.

In the meantime, there’s more information below.  If you’d like support with money matters, please contact our Income Team on 0800 121 60 60.
 

Why is my rent increasing?

Every year we review rents, in line with government legislation.  The government has advised that from 2020 we are allowed to increase rents by a maximum of inflation plus 1%.  (For the rent increase in 2020, inflation is 1.7%).

We want to continue delivering a good quality services to you. This includes maintaining and improving your home and investing in new fire safety measures for many of our buildings.  See ‘Managing your home’ for more details.  We want to invest in our homes and neighbourhoods and plan for future generations.
 

What is the timescale for this rent increase?

Your rent will change from April 2020.  We'll write to you in February 2020 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 a service charge, do the same increases apply?

Service charges may increase, but the formula of CPI+1% will not apply. Please be assured we will only set service charges in line with our Recoverable Service Charge Policy. We’ll always look for value for money in the services we provide, balancing the quality of the services against the cost.  We‘ll give you clear information about what you’re paying for.

We‘ll provide you with a full breakdown of your service charges when we write to you at the end of February notifying you of your rent increase. So you‘ll see at a glance what it costs us to maintain your lifts, communal lighting, etc.
 

I claim Universal Credit: will I have to re-apply and will this result in weeks of delay in my rent being paid and accumulating rent arrears?

You will not need to complete a brand new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). However, you need to inform them of this increase via your online journal once we’ve confirmed your new rent. You’ll can only to do this from 6 April - the start of the new rent year. It‘s important you do this as soon as possible to avoid any payment delays.
 

What if Universal Credit doesn’t cover the rent increase?

We strongly recommend you contact our Income Team on 0800 121 6060 who can help you budget for any increase.
 

I claim housing benefit, do I need to so anything?

No, you don’t need to do anything.  We’ll inform your Local Authority.

 

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.

 

What if I can’t 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.