For the last four years we have reduced rents that Rooftop tenants pay by 1% every year. This is something that all Housing Associations across England were asked to do by the Government.
This year, in line with the Government’s new guidance rents will be increasing by Consumer Price Index +1% which totals 2.7%.
We fully understand that any increase to your rent will not be good news. At Rooftop we pride ourselves on providing quality homes and services, we are delighted to obtain 95% customer satisfaction rating however work hard to continuously improve the services we provide in partnership with our tenants.
This year we have spent £29m enabling 177 families move into newly built homes, we spend over £7m every year in maintaining our homes, and our Money Advisers have helped local people claim over £2m in mis-awarded or unclaimed benefits this year.
Last year our Health and Wellbeing Team provided nearly 7,000 hours of activities and support, our dedicated Domestic Abuse Team helped nearly 250 people who were experiencing domestic abuse, and nearly 200 people were given work and training support from our Work Advisers.
We calculate that most of our tenants will with the increase still be paying less than 4 years ago and if you’re on a low income your housing benefits should increase in line with this rise.
This is how we spend our income.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why are you increasing my rent?
Government legislation has changed and from April 2020 we can increase tenants rent by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)+1%. The CPI figure was announced by the Government on 16 October 2019 and was 1.7%.
This means we will be able to give tenants a clearer idea what this means for individual rents. We have given the rent increase a lot of thought and discussed the issue with our Board at length. We believe that in order to deliver our commitments as set out in the Corporate Plan we need to apply the increase of CPI+1%.
Do you have to increase my rent?
No, we don’t have to increase your rent, we could leave it as it is. However, this would mean that something would have to give.
In our financial plan we have budgeted for the rent increase from April 2020, which means we can deliver our promises to you, to build 1000 new homes, create a Garden Village, and develop and implement the Rooftop Living Homes Standard. We also want to help regenerate neighbourhoods by supporting communities, continuing to offer Health and Wellbeing support, by piloting Wi-Fi hubs and working alongside Neighbourhood Champions.
If we keep your rent as it is we simply can’t deliver our promises and will have to make some tough choices to either build less or not at all, to invest less and to do less in your neighbourhoods, and we don’t think this is fair to you.
We have ambitions to protect our assets and neighbourhoods and to plan for future generations of your families who choose to live in our homes.
By how much are you increasing my rent and how have you calculated this?
Rents will increase by CPI%+1% and you will find the confirmed increase within your rent increase letter. This has been based on Government guidelines.
I pay a service charge, do the same increases apply?
Because of the industry rules surrounding the setting of rents, if you are a Social Rent customer and you pay a service charge the CPI+1% rise only applies to your rent and the service charge part of your payment is calculated separately.
If you are an Affordable Rent customer, and you pay a service charge, the CPI+1% rise applies to your whole payment of rent including service charge.
Please be assured that we will only set service charges in line with our service charge policy. The policy states that “we will set charges appropriately to cover the cost of providing the service to you with no hidden charges”.
What will you spend the additional rental income on?
We have set out in our Corporate Plan what we want to achieve over the next 5 years. The additional money we are able to raise from rents means we are on track to deliver these objectives. We will keep you informed regularly on how we are performing against the corporate plan objectives and our board will scrutinise our performance.
Will I see any benefits in my home and local community?
The reason we are applying the rent increase is so that you will benefit both within your own home but also in your wider neighbourhood and from the services we provide to you. You will see that we will now be able to do what we said we would do and deliver investment in your homes, services and neighbourhood.
Will I expect to see a higher level of service or something additional for the extra money?
You will continue to benefit from our excellent level of customer service. In our last customer satisfaction survey, tenants said they were 95% satisfied with our standards.
All customers will benefit from the organisation being able to deliver our commitments in the Corporate Plan. Most importantly the increase means that we won’t have to cut services to you.
What do I do if I can’t afford the increase?
Our priority is to support tenants to sustain their tenancies and we want to help prevent rent arrears occurring as much as you do. We have a dedicated money advice team working alongside the rent/income team who are trained to make sure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in circumstances.
What if I refuse to pay?
We appreciate you might be unhappy with the proposed rent increase and consider refusing to pay. If you take this decision, unfortunately it will result in rent arrears building up on your account and we will have to take action to recover the unpaid rent that is due.
Can I have a breakdown of how you will spend my rent?
We commit to providing a full breakdown of how we will spend your rent over the next 12 months. We will do this in our annual report to tenants which we will share on our website.
I claim Universal Credit: will I have to re-apply and will this result in weeks of delays in my rent being paid and accumulating rent arrears?
We appreciate that completing a Universal Credit claim can be very stressful and facing weeks of delays for any benefit payment is something we want to avoid. Please be assured you will not have to complete a brand-new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once we write to inform you of the new rent you will simply need to inform them of this via the DWP portal after the rent increase has been applied. It is important that you do this on 6 April 2020 as we will then be asked to verify the increase on the landlord portal.
What if Universal Credit doesn’t cover the rent increase?
If your Universal Credit allowance isn’t increased to cover the additional rent increase, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our specialist money advisers who can help you budget for the increase.
I don’t claim benefits; do I have to adjust my Direct Debit mandate with my bank, or will you do this automatically for me?
Don’t worry, your Direct Debit will be adjusted automatically by our finance team – you don’t have to do anything. This adjustment will be confirmed for you in your rent increase letter.
What about my Standing Order?
If you make your rent payment via a Standing Order it is your responsibility to change the amount with your bank. If you wish to set up a Direct Debit for future payments please contact our Income Team.
Where can I get some debt and budgeting advice?
We have a dedicated money advice team working alongside the rent/income team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes in circumstances. We encourage you to take advantage of this service. To contact our Money Advisers email Money.Advice@rooftopgroup.org or telephone 01386 420800. Alternatively, there is advice and support available from your local Citizens Advice.
What is the timescale for this rent increase?
The rent increase notice letters formally informing you of the rent increase are sent out to you with a minimum of one month’s notice. We will usually aim to have the letter on your doorstep by the end of February 2020. If you do not accept the proposed new rent you can refer to the Rent Assessment Committee (RAC) who may agree the proposed rent, instruct us to reduce the rent or even instruct us to increase the rent. How to contact the RAC will be detailed in your rent increase letter.
Rent increases will then apply from 6 April 2020.