Flats - rent and service charges from April 2017

Changes to your rent charges from April 2017

In line with the government guidance to local authorities that social housing rents should be reduced by 1% each year for four years from 2016, your basic rent will be lower than last year.

This reduction will not apply to any service charges and water charges. The council calculates service charges on the actual costs of providing and delivering essential and obligatory services in flat blocks.  The water charge increase is calculated by the water company and sent to us each year in February.

Despite the basic rent being decreased by 1%, some tenants will find their weekly charges have increased, because their service charges have increased. Each year the council sends you a letter about planned changes to your rent, service charges and fees for the coming year. This year the letter notifies you of the changes to your rent amount, giving a detailed breakdown of any service or water charges and shows you the total amount due for your home.

Your total rent payments

The total amount you are required to pay each week is calculated by adding together the basic rent charge, any service and/or water charges and fee  (where applicable)  for the whole year. The total is then divided into 50 equal payments. This amount is the weekly rent we charge you to live in your home. Your rent is payable weekly in advance, each Monday.

There are two rent -free weeks each year. If you are behind and owe rent, these rent free weeks give you the opportunity to catch-up with your payments. The rent free weeks are the last week in December 2017 (week beginning the 25 December 2017) and the last week in March 2018 (week beginning the 26 March 2018). If you do not owe rent, you do not need to pay rent on either of these weeks. 

If you pay your rent by direct debit, your payments are calculated on a monthly basis; therefore we will collect the monthly payment as usual in December 2017 and March 2018. You do not need to do anything.

Basic rent

This is the weekly amount you pay for landlord services, including basic repairs and improvements to your home. This varies from property to property and the weekly amount is set in your Formal Notice of Rent Charges letter.

Management fees

A few of our properties are charged a management fee. The management fee (where applicable) is calculated using the actual costs of providing and delivering essential and obligatory services in flat blocks by an appointed management agent.

Changes to service and other charges from 03 April 2017

If you live in a flat block, or your home is attached to a sheltered or supported housing scheme, your charges include a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas of that building. These charges apply whether you use the communal areas or not.

These charges will be shown separately on the rent notice. The charges will reflect the actual cost of providing the service.
     
What your charges cover:

Caretaking & cleaning service charge
Cleaning of communal areas, removal of fly tipping, etc. 

Communal block repairs
This charge covers repairs to communal areas in flat blocks. This includes items such as communal glazing or repairs to handrails. 

Communal block electrics
The cost of the electrical supply for communal lighting.

Water charges
Included in your rent notification letter.

Grounds maintenance
Grass cutting, weeding shrub beds and clearing litter in    landscaped and communal areas around blocks of flats and sheltered/supported housing schemes.

Window cleaning service charge
Covers the cost of providing communal window cleaning.
  
Heating charge
Communal heating fuel supply costs (often in sheltered schemes/tower blocks).
 
Support charge
To provide a Supported Housing Officer to offer help, support and advice alongside emergency assistance as and when required.

Careline charge
Contributes towards the cost of the Careline alarm service.

Community support charge
Covers the cost of the visiting and support service by supported housing officers.

Pest control
Covers the costs of dealing with pest infestation in communal areas.

Management fee
Covers the inclusive costs of providing and delivering essential and obligatory services in flat blocks by an appointed management agent.

How do these changes affect my housing benefit claim?

If you claim benefit claim, the heating charge and water charge are not covered by housing benefit. You are required to make these payments yourself.

Garage rents

If you rent a garage, you will be notified separately about any change in the standard garage rent charge. For more information about garages please visit www.stevenage.gov.uk/garages

Council Tax

Your council tax is paid separately to your rent. Any changes to your council tax will be notified to you separately. We will send you notification of the revised council tax charges during March 2017.

Paying your rent

  Pay-Online_July17

You will need your nine-digit reference number to make a payment. If you do not have a rent account card with your reference number on it you can apply for a new one by using the following link.

Rent account card

You can also set up a direct to make monthly or fortnightly payments. Use the following link to download a direct debit form.