Rent increases are coming
From 6 April 2020, the cost of renting a home from us is going to increase by 2.7%
Over the last four years, we’ve seen the cost of rent decrease by 1% each year, which has meant we’ve had to reduce our costs wherever possible, whilst still delivering our core services.
We are increasing our rent costs so that we can:
- Continue to build much needed new housing for the people that need it most, by building 225 new homes over the next year.
- Invest £7.061m in our existing homes over the next 12 months on new Kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and roofs as part of our ten year £83.1 investment programme.
- Continue to invest more than ever on safety and compliance to ensure tenants feel safe and secure in their home. Increased investment in smoke alarm installations, new heating systems and replacement fire doors
- It will allow us to continue to deliver and improve on our core services such as Housing management and maintenance
A new ‘rent standard’ set by the government comes into action from 1 April 2020, which means housing associations like ourselves can increase our rents by up to CPI (the Consumer Price Index inflation measure) plus 1%. The government has said this standard will stay in place for the next five years. CPI at September 2019 was 1.7%, meaning that we are able to increase our rents by up to 2.7% in April.
Kevin Hornsby, Director of Communities, said: “We really believe this is the right decision to make and that our rents remain affordable and good value for money. The rent on an Ongo home is on average two thirds the cost of one rented privately.
“By increasing our rent we will be able to continue to support our tenants, offer them safe and secure homes and be able to build new homes to be able to support even more people that really need it.”
This was a big decision with us, and we consulted with Community Voice (our tenant panel) who supported our overall approach to increasing our rent by 2.7%, providing we’re really clear in the way we communicate this and explain why.
All our tenants will receive a letter in the post by the end of February, updating them on their rent costs and any additional service charges for the year ahead.
For anyone that receives a rent increase letter, if you have any questions or queries – check out our handy Q&A document below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can get in touch with us.
Why is my rent increasing?
For the last four years, you will have seen a decrease in your rent costs. This was a government decision to reduce rent costs by 1% a year for four years, and it meant we had to recover that 1% a year from elsewhere in the business.
We’ve now reached the end of this four years so we (and all other housing associations) are able to increase our rent in line with the new ‘rent standard’ set by the government. This comes into action from 1 April 2020, and we can increase our rents by up to CPI (the Consumer Price Index inflation measure) plus 1%.
The government has said this standard will stay in place for the next five years. CPI at September 2019 was 1.7%, meaning that we are able to increase our rents by up to 2.7% in April.
Increasing rent costs means we can continue to invest in our homes and build new ones. It also means we can continue offering all the services we do as your landlord.
What if I can’t afford to pay it?
If you’re struggling with your rent payments, get in touch with us and we’ll be able to offer guidance and advice. Our Income team are really knowledgeable and helpful, so give us a call.
I’m on Universal Credit, what do I need to do?
You will need to update your Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) journal with the new amount on, or immediately after 6 April 2020. If you don’t do this you may not get all the housing element you are entitled to.
This is something that can only be done by you. It’s important that you don’t do this before 6 April 2020, as we are unable to verify the details until then and you would have to re-submit the information again.
Why have I received a letter when I receive full Housing Benefit and do not pay rent?
We are legally obliged to notify all tenants of the changes to their rent charges. It will show you all the charges for your property and what the amount currently is and what it will change to from April 2020.
I claim Housing Benefit, do I need to do anything?
No, we will notify North Lincolnshire Council’s Benefits Team of your rent and service charges for the new financial year. They will re-calculate your claim and you will receive a letter directly from them to advise you of your new entitlement.
If you have a change in your circumstances and you must inform North Lincolnshire Council’s Benefit Section immediately to avoid any over payments of Housing Benefit.
I do not have a rent payment card, how can I make payments?
All tenants are issued with a rent payment card which can be used to make payments at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet across the country. You can order a replacement card through the “My Rent” section on My Home. There are also many other ways you can your rent, see the details on your rent notification letter.
How do I pay using the telephone?
You can pay your rent to us via debit or credit card using our automated telephone payment service. To use this service, just follow these steps
- You will need you AllPay payment card reference number which is on your rent notification letter
- Call us on 01724 279900
- Press 1 to make a payment and follow the instructions
I currently pay by Direct Debit, what do I need to do?
You don’t need to do anything, we will be re-calculating your Direct Debit over the next few weeks. If we need to change your payments you will receive a letter from Allpay later in March to confirm your new payments.
I currently pay by Standing Order, what do I need to do?
You will need to change the amount you pay with your bank directly, we are unable to make these changes for you.
The letter has been sent out in the wrong name or in the name of someone who has deceased?
The details on the letter are directly from our system. If the details are wrong, or there are any spelling errors, please contact our Customer Service Team so we can look into this and get it resolved for you.
What is happening to the rent charge on my garage?
The decision has been made to keep the garage rent at the same amount for the new financial year. You will receive a notification letter in March 2020 to confirm this.
Will the charge I pay on the store shed change?
It’s been decided to no longer charge rent for the store sheds. You will receive a notification letter later in March 2020 to confirm this. If you pay by Direct Debit, we will stop future payments from coming out of your bank.