Rent changes FAQ

Rent changes from April 2020

Changes to rent prices have been announced by central government.

Because of this, some customer’s rents will go up next year. Rent increases have been frozen since 2016 and for the last four years rents have dropped by one per cent each year. The slight increase will happen from April 2020 and will be no more than one per cent more than the consumer price index.

The consumer price index is calculated each year to show inflation across the country. It is currently 1.7 per cent. We understand that any rent increase can be worrying, so we will provide more information and support to customers affected before changes take place. 

Why are you increasing my rent and by how much will it increase?

We fully understand that any increase to your rent will be concerning. However, government legislation has changed and from April 2020 to allow housing associations to increase customer rent by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)+1%. The CPI figure was announced by the government on 16 October 2019 and was 1.7%. The average weekly rent increase will be £2.67 for customers paying social rent, and £2.83 for customers paying affordable rent.

Do you have to increase my rent?

We have budgeted for the rent increase from April 2020, which means we can deliver our promises to you to invest in your homes and continue to build more affordable housing, to achieve our goal that everyone has a home. If we keep your rent as it is we will not be able to deliver our promises and may have to build less, invest less and to do less in your neighbourhoods, which we don’t think is fair.

What is the timescale for this rent increase?

The rent increase notice letters formally informing you of the rent increase will be sent out to you in February. Rent increases will then apply from 1 April 2020.

I pay a service charge, do the same increases apply?

Service charges may increase but the same formula of CPI+1% will not apply. Please be assured that we will only set service charges in line with our service charge policy. The policy states we will set charges appropriately to cover the cost of providing the service to you with no hidden charges. We will provide you with a full breakdown of your service charges when we write to you notifying you of your rent increase.

What do I do if I can’t afford the increase?

Our priority is to help our customers to stay in their home and we want to help you prevent rent arrears occurring. We have a money advice tool as well as our rent team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in your personal circumstances. Please take advantage of our services to help you prepare well ahead of the rent increase.

What if I refuse to pay?

We appreciate you might be unhappy with the proposed rent increase and consider refusing to pay. However, we have an obligation to all our customers to make sure everyone pays in full. If you can’t pay your rent we will work with you to try to help you to resolve any financial difficulties you may have. Unfortunately, we may on occasions need to start court action if rent remains unpaid, but this is always a last resort. A better approach would be to take advantage of our specialist money advice tool or contact one of our advisers by phoning our contact centre on 0333 400 8222.

Will my rent be increasing every year?

Under the new legislation, housing providers will be able to increase rent by this level each year. However we will review any rent increases and keep you informed of any changes every year.

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

We appreciate that completing a Universal Credit claim can be very stressful and facing weeks of delays for any benefit payment is something we want to avoid. Please be assured you will not have to complete a new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once we write to inform you of your new rent you will simply need to inform them of this via the Department for Work and Pensions portal after the rent increase has been applied. It is important that you do this on 1 April 2020 as we will then be asked to verify the increase on the landlord portal. Find out more about Universal Credit here.

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

If your Universal Credit allowance isn’t increased to cover the additional rent increase, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to speak to an advisor who will be able to look into your situation. Please do this by speaking to our contact centre on 0333 400 8222 or visit the Department for Work and Pensions website.

I don’t claim benefits; do I have to adjust my Direct Debit mandate with my bank or will you do this automatically for me?

Don’t worry, your Direct Debit will be adjusted automatically by our finance team – you don’t have to do anything.

I pay a service charge, do the same increases apply?

Service charges may increase but the same formula of CPI+1% will not apply. Please be assured that we only set service charges in line with our service charge policy. The policy states we will set charges appropriately to cover the cost of providing the service to you with no hidden charges. We will provide you with a full breakdown of your service charges when we write to you notifying you of your rent increase.

Where can I get some debt and budgeting advice from?

We have a dedicated advice hub alongside the rent team who can be reached through our contact centre and are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in circumstances. We encourage you to take advantage of this service and look at the support we offer through the Aster Foundation. Alternatively, there is advice and support available from the local Citizens Advice.

Aster support team help customer Pauline live independently

Case study

Pauline was working and living in private rented accommodation. When she was struck down by a condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GB) her whole world fell apart. GB is a rapid onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the nervous system. It left Pauline paralysed and unable to talk or move.  She spent five months in hospital and a further four months in specialist rehabilitation with no idea of what her future now held.

On discharge and with her mobility severely affected she found she could no longer live in her former home and was moved into temporary accommodation. We stepped in and offered her a level access bungalow and Pauline moved in defying all the odds and walking with the aid of sticks.  Unfortunately, because of her change in circumstances she could no longer work and was forced to claim Universal Credit (UC).

She was referred to the Aster customer support teams when it became apparent that her housing costs were not being paid by Universal Credit (UC). We helped her to apply for the disability element of UC for those customers who are too poorly to be engaged in any work-related activity, something UC hadn’t triggered automatically.

We also applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment and a surviving winter grant to help toward the extra expense of winter heating costs for those who are unwell and in fuel poverty.

Pauline said: ‘I couldn’t have done this without all your help and support, and I am very grateful.’

How to pay your rent

OPTIONS AND METHODS AVAILABLE

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How your rent is charged

WHEN IS RENT CHARGED AND WHEN YOU HAVE TO PAY

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Annual rent changes

WHEN AND WHY RENTS ARE CHANGED

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Service charges

WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY YOU HAVE TO PAY THEM

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It’s good to talk

WHEN AND HOW TO CONTACT OUR ACCOUNT TEAMS

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What happens if I don’t pay?

A BRIEF GUIDE TO OUR RENT COLLECTION PROCESS

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The Rental Exchange

SHARING YOUR PAYMENT DATA TO GET YOU BETTER DEALS

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Home Contents Insurance

INFORMATION ABOUT GETTING INSURANCE COVER

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