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Rent increase for Council tenants 2020-21

Our Customer Service Centre on Southfield Road is now open for essential enquiries by appointment only. Please be aware that it is mandatory for face coverings to be worn on the premises. More information, including how to make an appointment, can be found in this news story.

On April 6, 2020 rents for Charnwood’s council tenants will increase for the first time in five years, following four consecutive years of a 1% rent reduction.

Charnwood Borough Council currently owes £79m to the Government as part of our debt settlement payments. Repayments are scheduled from 2024.

If you feel the change in your rent may cause financial hardship, please contact us on 01509 634666 to see what help and support we might be able to offer you.

If you would like information or advice about housing benefit or universal credit payments please contact our income team on 01509 634666.

Below is some information and answers to questions that you might ask around this rent increase.

Why are you increasing my rent?

We fully understand that any increase to your rent will not be good news. However, government legislation has changed and from April 2020 we are allowed to increase tenants 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 increase that we will be applying is 2.7%, therefore.

We have given the rent increase a lot of thought and discussed the issue with elected councillors and tenants through our Housing Management Advisory Board at length. We believe that in order to deliver our commitments as set out in our plans we need to maximise the money we receive from rents and apply the increase of CPI+1%.

Do you have to increase my rent?

No, we don’t have to increase your rent; we could leave it as it is. This would mean, however, that something would have to give. Within our financial plan we have budgeted for the rent increase from April 2020, which means we can deliver our promises to you to acquire new homes and invest in your own homes and neighbourhoods.

If we keep your rent as it is we simply can’t keep these promises and will have to make some tough choices to either acquire fewer new homes or not at all, to invest less and to do less in your neighbourhoods; and we don’t think this is fair. We have ambitions to protect our assets and neighbourhoods and to plan for future generations of your families who choose to live in our homes.

By how much are you increasing my rent and how have you calculated this?

Rents will increase by 2.7% and we will write to you at the end of February to confirm what your new rent will be from Monday, 6 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. 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 at the end of February notifying you of your rent increase; so you will see at a glance what it costs us to provide and maintain the services to where you live.

What will you spend the additional rental income on?

We will set out in our corporate plan, HRA Business Plan, and Asset Management Strategy what we want to achieve over the next few years. The additional money we are able to raise from rents will keep us on track to deliver these objectives. We will keep you informed regularly on how we are performing against the corporate plan objectives and council members and tenants through our Housing management Advisory Board will scrutinise our performance.

Will I see any benefits in my home and local community?

Absolutely. The reason we are applying the rent increase is so that you will benefit both within your own home but also in your wider neighbourhood and from the services we provide to you. You will see that we will now be able to do what we said we would do and deliver investment in your homes, services and neighbourhood.

There will be Improvements made to sheltered accommodation for the vulnerable and elderly tenants, and we will deliver the Charnwood standard in tenants homes, an enhanced standard of accommodation, over and above the government’s decent homes standard. 

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

Our priority is to support tenants to keep their tenancies and we want to help prevent rent arrears occurring as much as you do. We have dedicated financial inclusion and tenancy support teams working alongside the housing income team. These people are trained to help you maximise your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in circumstances. Please take advantage of this service now 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. If you take this decision, unfortunately it will result in rent arrears building up on your account and we will have to take action to recover the unpaid rent that is due. We want to avoid this unpleasant and unnecessary situation as it may end up with you facing more debt and possibly legal fees which would only make your financial circumstances more difficult.

If you think you will struggle to pay your rent then please contact your income officer immediately. They are there to help you. 

Can I have a breakdown of how you will spend my rent?

We commit to providing a full breakdown of how we will spend your rent over the next twelve months. We will do this in our annual report to tenants which we will share on our website.

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 can involve weeks of delays. Please be assured you will not have to complete a brand new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once we write to inform you of the new rent you must,however, inform the DWP them of the rent increase through your journal. It is important that you do this immediately you know what your new rent is going to be.

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 see one of our financial inclusion officers for advice and help.

I pay my rent by direct debit. 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. You don’t have to do anything.

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 with a minimum of four weeks’ notice. We will usually aim to have the letter on your doorstep by the end of February 2020. The rent increase will then apply from April 6, 2020.

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Last updated: Fri 7th February, 2020 @ 11:19