Every five years, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – which aims to create great places to live and deliver the homes the country needs - publishes a new Rent Standard. This is a document that sets out the rules that social landlords like Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) must adhere to when setting rents for new tenants, and when reviewing rents for existing tenants each year.
A new Rent Standard has now been published and will take effect from April 2020. It includes several new requirements that will last until the next standard is published in 2025 (or unless there is a change in the law that impacts it).
The biggest change for residents is that the rent decrease period, enforced by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, is now coming to an end. This new standard is the first since the act required social housing providers to reduce rents by 1% each year for four years and means housing providers will revert back to annual increases of Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus one percent.
CPI is the measure of inflation published by the Office for National Statistics each month. It tracks the amount by which the average prices of everyday goods increase or decrease. For 2020, social landlords will use the CPI measure from September 2019 (1.7%) plus one percent. Uplifts in 2020 will therefore total 2.7% in most cases.
How is my rent set?
How your rent is set depends on several factors, including the type of tenancy or lease that you have and when it started; what type of property you are living in, as well as the legislation or regulations that were in effect at the time.
What are Social rents?
Social rents are calculated based on a formula laid out in the Rent Standard, otherwise known as Formula Rents. These rents are exclusive of service charges.
What are Affordable rents?
Affordable rents were introduced by the government under the Localism Act 2011 and related regulations. These rents are capped at 80% of the market rent in the area.
What are Fair Rents?
You are likely to be a secure tenant if you rented a property from us before 15 January 1989. You should check your tenancy agreement to confirm whether you have a secure tenancy. Every two years a rent officer from the Valuation Office Agency sets what is known as a fair rent for your home. The rent you pay can never be above the fair rent.
Someone in my block has a lower rent to me – why is this?
Rent is set depending on the type of tenancy/lease and the legislation or regulations that were in effect when it started. It is possible that someone in the same block will have a different tenancy/lease to you or is subject to different rules. For data protection reasons we are only able to discuss your rent and how it is set.
What do I do when my rent changes?
You must remember to update any automated payments to us to match your new rent amount.
If you are in receipt of housing benefit, you must immediately tell your local council Housing Benefit office about your rent change before the change takes effect. You can do this by taking the rent notification letter to your benefits office.
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, you must inform the Department for Work and Pensions
(DWP) as soon as possible after your rent change has taken effect. You cannot report the change before it has happened. You can do this by reporting a change of circumstances in your Universal Credit account. It is important to report the change as soon as possible after it has taken effect, otherwise you might miss out on payments.
What happens to my rent if I move?
If you choose to move to another property, you will pay the advertised rent for that property. This information will be included in the advert. Please contact your housing officer for more information on transfers or mutual exchanges.
Can I appeal against my rent review?
You can appeal to NHG by contacting your housing officer if you think we have calculated your rent incorrectly. If an increase to your service charge results in you paying a higher rent than last year, you can appeal formally to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). The appeal cannot be considered against the formula rent level or be based on your personal or financial circumstances. A formal appeal must be raised before the start date of your new rent. This date still applies even if you appeal directly to us first, so please be sure to appeal formally before this date if you feel the need to - even if you have also appealed to NHG.
What if I can’t afford my rent?
If you find yourself unable to pay your rent on the due dates, you should contact your housing officer as soon as you can. They will be able to help with alternative payment arrangements and may be able to suggest who you can contact to claim any benefits you might be entitled to. The government is making changes to the way benefits are calculated and received, and some changes have happened already. To find out more, contact your housing officer.
Department for Work and Pensions Tel: 0800 731 0469 www.gov.uk/dwp
Tax credits Tel: 0345 300 3900 www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/tax-credits
Disability benefits Tel: 0800 121 4433 www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/disability
Pension Credit claim line Tel: 0800 731 7898 www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
EntitledTo Calculator to work out your entitlement to benefits and tax credits
First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Tel: 0207 446 7700 www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-propertychamber
National Debtline Tel: 0808 808 4000 www.nationaldebtline.org