From 5 April 2021, the cost of renting a home from us is going to increase by 1.5%.
From 2016 up until 2020, 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:
- Invest £83m in our existing homes over the next 10 years on new kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and roofs as part of our 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
- Continue to build much needed new housing for the people that need it most, by building 225 every year over the next 10 years.
A new ‘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 2020 was 0.5%, meaning that we are able to increase our rents by up to 1.5% in April.
We remain more affordable than privately renting a home. On average it costs around £141.67 per week for a three bedroom, private rent home in Scunthorpe. By comparison our rent (including the 1.5% increase) would only amount to £115.44, making it more than £26 per week cheaper.
Kevin Hornsby, Director of Communities, said: “This increase is in line with the 2020 Rent Standard, and the Government Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.
“Renting an Ongo home remains on average 20% cheaper than one rented privately, but by increasing rent, we can continue to provide great services, invest in our existing homes and build new ones.
“If you’re a tenant and you’re struggling to pay your rent, please let us know. We have a dedicated team who can make sure you receive benefits you’re entitled to, help you to budget and give advice.”
This decision was made after consulting with Community Voice (our tenant panel) who supported this rent increase.
All of 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?
From 2016 up until 2020, 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.
Last year we 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 came 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 2020 was 0.5%, meaning that we are able to increase our rents by up to 1.5% 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 DWP journal with the new amount on or immediately after 5 April 2021. 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 5 April 2021 as we are unable to verify the details until 5 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 2021.
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 and 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 last year to no longer charge rent for the storesheds from April 2020. This is still in place and there will be no charge from April 2021 either. You will receive a notification letter later in March to confirm this.