CHANGES TO YOUR RENT FROM APRIL 2020

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What this means for you, your home and your community

From April 2020, your rent will rise by CPI (Consumer Price Index) plus 1%. This is the first time your rent will have increased in four years.

Your rent and service charges pay for the services that we provide to you, such as maintaining your home, improving your neighbourhoods and community investment activities like our Benefits and Energy Advice Service, Reach and The Market Place.

What you need to know

  • Rents will increase by 2.7% from 1 April 2020.
  • The extra rent will be used for community initiatives in Speke and Garston.
  • Direct Debit and Housing Benefit customers don't need to do anything.
  • Universal Credit claimants need to advise the DWP about the change on 1 April.
  • Customers paying by Standing Order need to tell their bank before 1 April.

Video: Tenant Scrutiny Panel member Julie interviews SLH Chief Executive Julie Fadden about the rent changes. 

FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is my rent increasing?

You may notice that a lot of companies review their prices each year. Rents are no different. For the last four years, in line with government guidelines, we have reduced rents by 1% each April. However, government legislation has changed and from April 2020 we are allowed to increase your rent by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)+1%.

The CPI was set by the Government in October at 1.7% so this means your rent will increase by 2.7%.

We have given the rent increase a lot of thought and have discussed the issue with our Board and tenant Scrutiny Panel. We believe that in order to deliver our commitments as set out in our corporate plan 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. However, this would mean 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 what we set out to do. This includes investing more in your homes, delivering community investment activities across Speke and Garston and continuing to build muchneeded homes in the area.

If we keep your rent as it is, we simply can’t deliver what we need to and will have to make some tough choices. Invest less in your homes. Do less in your neighbourhoods. Build less or don’t build at all. We don’t think this is fair. We have ambitions to protect your home 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 when will you do this?

Rents will increase by 2.7% and we will write to you at the end of February to confirm how this will affect your rent payments. Rent increases will then apply from 1 April 2020.

Example: If you live in a three-bedroom home and your rent is currently £90 per week, then your rent will increase to £92.43 per week from 1 April 2020. A difference of £2.43 per week.

What will you spend the additional rental income on?

The increased rent means we will have an additional £169k to spend on your homes and community investment activities that are important to you. We will spend £8.9million each year investing in your homes. This includes works such as new kitchens, bathrooms and windows. We will spend £1.2million on new kitchens in 2020, an increase of £334k compared to last year. We will also spend £250k on adaptations to homes.

We will continue to build more much-needed homes in the area, including the renovation of Hale Road cottages, 17 new-build bungalows and the regeneration of South Parade.

We are committed to continued investment in projects such as our employability hub - Reach, our community shop - The Market Place and our community garden, Grow Speke. We will be looking at how we can deliver similar projects in Garston.

Will I see any benefits in my 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.

In October, we carried out Everyone Together surveys where we spoke to over 2,000 tenants about what you liked and didn’t like about your neighbourhood, as well as what your main concerns were. You told us that health, money and crime are your main concerns and we will be using the extra money from the rent increase to invest in initiatives that address these concerns - across both Speke and Garston.

Will I expect to see a higher level of service or something additional for the extra money?

You will continue to benefit from the excellent services we deliver to you. In our last customer satisfaction survey, 88% of you said you were happy with the services we deliver. Whilst this is promising, we know that we still have some work to do, and the extra income from the increased rents will help us to do this.

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

Your service charge may increase but this will vary for each household as it will depend on what type of service charge you pay. Please be assured that we will only set service charges in line with our policy. Your rent review letter which you will receive at the end of February will let you know how much your service charge will increase by.

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

Our priority is to support tenants to stay in their homes and manage their tenancies well, this means helping to stop you falling into arrears or if you already owe us money, stopping these increasing. We have a dedicated benefits and energy advice team working alongside the income team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits and help you make the most of your money in your home by providing energy advice. Please take advantage of this free service to help you prepare for this rent increase by calling us on 0330 303 3000 and pressing option 4.

What do I do if I don’t agree with the rent increase?

If you do not agree with the new rent, contact us and we can talk to you about why this rent has been applied. If you are still not satisfied, we can refer you to an independent body who will consider your dissatisfaction.

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.

Please call our benefits and energy advice service who can give you the support you need.

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 12 months. We will do this in our annual report to tenants which we will share on our website and in the October issue of Bulletin magazine.

What do I need to do next?

If you pay by direct debit you don’t need to do anything. We will amend your direct debit automatically and will let you know separately of your new monthly amount.

If you pay by standing order, you will need to contact your bank to change your standing order to reflect your new rent payments.

If you receive housing benefit, you do not need to do anything as we we will inform Liverpool City Council of the change.

If you receive Universal Credit it is your responsibility to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of the changes to your rent. Once we write to inform you of your new rent payment in February, you will need to inform them of this through your online journal.

NB: It is important that you only do this once the rent increase has been applied on 1 April 2020.

If you do not do this, you will be underpaid your housing costs which will result in arrears on your rent account. Please keep a copy of your rent review letter that we will send out to you in February in a safe place. This will have your new rent payment on and you will need this to update your online journal in April.

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 your income officer who can offer you advice.

Where can I get some debt and budgeting advice from?

We have a dedicated benefits and energy advice team working alongside our income team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits and help you make the most of your money in your home by providing energy advice. We encourage you to take advantage of this service.

Useful links

Your income officer

Ways to pay your rent

Rent Arrears

Benefits Advice

Energy Advice

Reach

Grow Speke

The Market Place

Universal Credit

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