From 2nd April 2018 the amount of rent you pay will be changing. You should already have received a letter advising you of how the changes will specifically affect your rent payments. For support and advice, please contact us.
It’s important that you know how our rents (and other charges) are worked out so we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand. Find out more about these changes below.
Always pay your Rent First. Your home may be at risk if you do not pay your rent. Your rent to whg is payable every week and all rent is due in advance for the week ahead. We’re here to help, so if you are having problems paying your rent, please contact us.
What has changed?
Annual rent review
We have carried out our annual rent review, in line with the government’s rent setting formula, to calculate this year’s net rent/rent decrease. The exact changes to the amount you will pay are detailed in the rent review letter you will have received from whg.
Removal of rent 'free' weeks
Your rent is currently calculated over 50 weeks, giving you two rent 'free' weeks in December. However, from 2nd April 2018 your rent will be calculated over 52 weeks, and your new rent and service charges have been calculated in this way.
This means that there are no longer any rent 'free' weeks, so you will need to pay your new rent and any service charge for every week of the year.
Do I need to do anything?
These changes will affect all customers and it is your responsibility to pay your rent.
You DO need to take action IF:
- you are claiming Universal Credit. You will need to contact the DWP yourself to tell them about the changes.
You DON’T need to take action IF you:
- are currently receiving Housing Benefit, as whg have already contacted the Council’s Housing Benefit team about the change to your rent
- pay by Direct Debit, as your rent payments are already set up to be paid equally over the year
- pay monthly, as your rent payments are already set up to be paid equally over the year
When should I pay?
You should pay your rent:
- every Monday in advance, if you’ve chosen to pay your rent weekly
- every two weeks in advance, if you’ve chosen to pay fortnightly
- every four weeks in advance, if you’ve chosen to pay every four weeks
- every month in advance, if you’ve chosen to pay monthly.
If you are a new customer your tenancy will commence on the day you sign your new tenancy and your rent will be charged to reflect this. For example, if your new tenancy starts on a Wednesday you will be initially charged from Wednesday to Sunday, then all future payments will be charged weekly on a Monday, payable in advance.
If you claim any benefits to help you to pay your rent, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re paid. If you are having problems paying your rent, please contact us.
Our team is here to help. If you need information, support or advice about managing your money, contact the whg Money Advice Service.
How do I know what I’m paying?
The total rent charge shown on your tenancy agreement or rent charge review letter covers different elements. They are: ‘Net Rent/Rent’, ‘Service charge’ and ‘Other charges’.
What does ‘Net Rent/Rent’ mean?
The rent element covers the cost to us of providing, managing and maintaining your home. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your rent may be funded in full or in part depending on your circumstances.
What does ‘Service charge’ mean?
This charge covers the cost of providing and maintaining our services like communal gardening and cleaning. The service charges are eligible for a Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payment. This charge is paid at the same time as your rent. Your tenancy agreement provides details of what it includes.
Some customers are required to pay a service charge for specific services e.g. door entry systems, communal cleaning or wellbeing services. For some customers this also includes charges for lift maintenance and water testing. If you are liable for such charges, the amounts are included in your total weekly charge. These charges can be made up from:
- Communal cleaning, access and lighting
- Grounds maintenance and caretaking
- Communal electronic services
- Furniture package
- Independent living service
- Wellbeing service
- Lift maintenance
- Water testing
You will pay a weekly charge based on an estimated annual cost. These estimated costs are reviewed every year.
If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, your service charge may be funded in full or in part depending on your circumstances.
What are ‘other charges’?
This is usually Council Tax. These charges are not eligible to be paid by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but you may be entitled to Council Tax Rebate.
How can I check my rent account?
The best way for you to view your rent account is to login on the my account section of this website. If you need any help please contact us. You can also look at your most recent rent statements which should have been sent to you.
How is my rent set?
We’ll set your rent in line with Government guidelines. These ask housing providers to use a single method. This aims to create a fairer system so customers renting similar homes in the same area will pay a similar rent, whether they rent from a housing association or council.
Rents are linked to:
- property values (which are set by an independent valuation)
- number of bedrooms
- average household incomes for the county.
To protect you, the Government has set a maximum amount of increase or decrease for any single year. This year the rent is being decreased, but service charges are increasing or decreasing, depending on the estimated cost of providing the service.
We’ll review rents every April and give you 28 days notice in writing before making any changes.
How do I pay with benefits?
You may be able to get help with your housing costs, depending on where you live, through either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Housing Benefit is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit for working age customers. See our Rent First pages for more information.
How much you get will depend on:
- where you live
- what savings you have
- how many people live with you
- your income.
Claiming for benefits is your responsibility and you must do this as soon as possible if you think you need them. You must tell your local council’s Housing Benefit office or the DWP of any personal changes immediately. If you don’t, you might have to pay back any overpayment, or you might receive less than usual for a short time to make up the difference. If you’re unsure if you can claim benefits, please refer to the whg budgeting calculator.
If you live in a home that’s bigger than you need, you’ll have to pay the Government’s bedroom under-occupancy charge. If you can’t afford to do this you might want to think about moving to a smaller home. You can look at your options on the choose&move website. You might also be entitled to discretionary housing payments to cover the underoccupancy charge, but this is usually time limited and only while you are trying to find a smaller home . You can find out if you can claim these by speaking to your local Housing Benefit office.