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Rent increases

From 4 April 2022, the cost of renting a home from us is going to increase by 4.1%.

From 2016 up until 2020, we saw the cost of rent decrease by 1% each year, which has meant we had to reduce our costs wherever possible, whilst still delivering our core services. In 2021 and again now in 2022 we are increasing our rent costs for a number of reasons that we would like to explain to you.

We completely understand and appreciate that we’re seeing rising costs in many different areas of our lives, and this is extremely difficult to manage, and we would urge you to get in touch with our teams on hand to support with financial and budgeting advice if you have any worries.

The information below explains why we have had to increase the cost of rent from 4 April 2022:   

  • Our running costs have increased, meaning to be able to continue to operate and offer all of our services – including repairs & maintenance and housing management, we need more income
  • Materials have also increased in cost, which has again had a knock on effect to us and means to be able to continue to be able to offer you our services
  • We’re continuing to invest more than ever on safety and compliance to ensure you feel safe and secure in your home
  • Offering opportunities to local people is so important, and now more than ever we want to help people get into work, receive training and get the qualifications to progress. Without this additional income, we wouldn’t be able to help all those people that really need our support.

Even with this increase, we remain more affordable than privately renting a home. On average it costs around £152.25 per week for a three bedroom, private rent home in areas we have homes. By comparison our rent (including the 4.1% increase) would amount to £99.68 for a social rent home (excluding service charges) and £127.71 for a three bedroom new build affordable home, making our options to rent a home £52 (social) and £24 (affordable) cheaper than the private sector.

The ‘rent standard’ set by the government came into action from 1 April 2020, which meant 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 five years. CPI at September 2021 was 3.1%, meaning that we are able to increase our rents by up to 4.1% in April.

Check out this video from our Chief Exec, Steve Hepworth who explains in more detail the reasons around our rent increase.

https://youtu.be/QNyZeCwH1QA

This decision was made after consulting with Community Voice (our tenant panel) who recognised both the pressures on tenant budgets and the pressures on Ongo’s own rising costs.  The feedback from Community Voice was presented to our Board who took the views into account as part of their decision and asked that more support be made available for any tenants who may get into difficulties paying rent or other bills.

Everyone will receive a letter in the post by the end of February, with details about the change in rent costs and any additional service charges for the year ahead.

If you receive your rent increase letter and 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?

    From 2016 up until 2020, we saw the cost of rent decrease by 1% each year, which has meant we had to reduce our costs wherever possible, whilst still delivering our core services. In 2021 and again now in 2022 we are increasing our rent costs for a number of reasons that we would like to explain to you.

    Increasing rent costs means we can continue to operate as your landlord and offer you our repairs & maintenance service along with our housing management service and many support services. It also means we can continue to offer employment, support and training opportunities to you and your families.

  • 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 Tenancy Sustainability Coaches are on hand if you need extra help to access benefits and money advice, including money-saving tips. Just get in touch with us.

    We can help you with advice on welfare benefits, and dealing with your debts. Or, you may prefer to take some independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (0800 144 8848, www.citizensadvice.org.uk) or National Debtline (0808 808 4000, www.nationaldebtline.org)

  • I’m on Universal Credit, what do I need to do?

    You will need to update your DWP journal with the new amount on or immediately after 4 April 2022.  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 4 April 2021 as we are unable to verify the details until 4 April 2021 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 2022.

  • I claim Housing Benefit, do I need to do anything?

    No, we will notify the relevant 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 you must inform the Benefit Section immediately to avoid any overpayments 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. 

    If you would prefer for us to make the changes to your payments and notify you, you will need to change your payment method to Direct Debit.  Further details are shown on your rent notification letter.

  • The letter has been sent out in the wrong name?

    The details on the letter are directly from our Housing computer 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 again for the new financial year.  You will receive a notification letter in March to confirm this.

  • Will the charge I pay on the store shed change?

    It was decided back in early 2020 to no longer charge rent for the store sheds from April 2020.  This is still in place and there will be no charge from April 2022 either.  You will receive a notification letter later in March to confirm this.