How do you decide how much rent and service charge I pay?

The Government announced in the autumn budget 2015 that housing associations must reduce social and affordable rents by 1% each year for the next four years.

You’ll only pay more than this if your service charges go up. But, remember, you only pay the actual cost of the services you get.

Affordable Rents

A small number of our customers are now charged ‘affordable rents’. Rents for these customers are also due to decrease by 1%.

Other Non Social Rents

These are not subject to the rent decrease therefore will be increased by 2% RPI (Retail Price Index) plus 0.5%.

What’s a service charge?

Service charges are paid by people who live in places that have shared areas. These are normally blocks of flats, apartments or our homes for older people and those receiving help to live at home. But there are some areas shared by houses too.

If we provide a service such as communal cleaning, looking after lifts, caretaking or grounds maintenance, we’ll charge you for this.  The cost will be based on the actual cost divided by the number of properties that receive this service. Where there’s a shared boiler, service charges also cover the heating charges inside each home.

Most service charges can be paid by Housing Benefit (except some things like personal heating and water).  Please let us know if we can help you to find out if your charges can be covered by Housing Benefit.

What if I pay extra costs to help me live at home?

If you pay extra costs, which can also be called supported living costs, to help you live at home, you will be told about these separately.

What if I also rent a Garage?

If you rent a garage from us you will receive a separate letter telling you about this.

What if I have rent free weeks or catch up weeks?

Some of our customers have rent free or catch up weeks and these may be different weeks in some areas. Please ring us if you want to check which weeks these are for you.

What if I am on Housing Benefit?

If you get housing benefit, you can ask your council to pay it to us. If your housing benefit only pays part of your rent, you’ll need to pay the rest using one of the other ways.

If your circumstances have changed you’ll need to contact Housing benefit and they’ll look at your claim again.

What if I am on Universal Credit?

If you get the Housing Element of Universal Credit to help pay your rent you MUST inform the DWP of your new weekly amount.

How can I pay my rent?

By Direct Debit

Direct Debit is the safest and easiest way to pay. You can choose for your payment to leave your bank or building society account on either the:

  • Monthly: on 1st, 8th, 15th or 22nd of each month
  • Weekly: on Friday

To set up direct debit payments we’ll give you a form which you need to sign and return to us or you can phone us on 0333 400 8222 and we can set the Direct Debit up over the phone. Your payments will be covered by the direct debit guarantee. If you currently pay by Direct Debit your dates will remain the same.

If your rent changes at any time, we can tell your bank or building society to increase your payment. We’ll give you 5 days notice, if your direct debit payment needs to change.

  • Standing Orders: If you pay your rent by standing order through your bank, you must tell your bank the new amount.  Failure to do so may result in us over or under collecting.
  • Payment Cards: If you pay with our payment cards please continue to use your usual payment cards.  If you need a new card, please give us a ring.

Other ways of paying

  • At our offices or by phone.
  • By post – don’t forget to put your name and address on the back of your cheque. Please don’t send cash.
  • Online at: www.aster.co.uk at all PayPoint outlets, or by phoning 0333 400 8222.
  • By Payment card at any Post Office

What to do if you’re struggling to pay the new amount or want more information

Please contact us on our Hotline Number:  0800 6129201 or e-mail us at rentchanges@aster.co.uk if you’ve got any questions or are worried about paying your rent. We may be able to help you get extra money. We’re here to help, but it’s important to remember that you can lose your home if you don’t pay your rent and service charges.

If you want to talk to someone else, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a Law Centre or a solicitor can help.  Age UK often help older people, you can also talk to your local council to find out if you can get some help with benefits.