How your rent is set will depend on whether you have a secure or an assured tenancy. If you are not sure, check your tenancy agreement or ask us to confirm for you.
For Secure Tenants
If you are a secure tenant, the Rent Officer, who is totally independent of the Association, sets your rent based on the age of your home, where it is, and the availability of similar accommodation in your area. Personal circumstances are not taken into account. The Rent Officer reviews rents every other year.
Where the rent set by the Rent Officer exceeds the rent level we have set, we will charge the lower rent, however in such situations we would reserve the right to review the rent level annually.
To protect you from large increases, the Government has set standard rates of increases, which ensure reasonable rises, in any single year. You will be given at least 28 days written notice from us before your rent changes
For Assured Tenants
If you are an assured tenant, we will set your rent in accordance with Government guidelines. The Government has instructed Housing Associations to use a single method for setting rents. The aim is to create a fair system whereby tenants renting similar homes in the same area will pay a similar rent regardless of whether they rent their home from a housing association or council.
Rents will be linked to property values (which will be assessed by an independent valuator) and average household incomes for the county.
This system may mean rents in some areas are reduced whilst others will need to be increased. Any adjustments required to existing rent levels will be applied gradually, the Government has given until 2011 to work towards the ‘target rent’. By 2011 your rent should be similar to the Government’s new target rent.
Rents will be reviewed annually each April and you will receive 28 days written notice from us before your rent changes.
Can you appeal against a rent increase?
For Secure Tenants
The Rent Officer will write to you before setting the new rent to advise you of the proposed changes, you then have 28 days to make representations and the Rent Officer will note your comments before deciding the final rent. If you think that the final rent set by the Rent Officer is still too high, you may appeal by writing to the Rent Officer within 28 days of receiving their decision.
For Assured Tenants
You can appeal to the Residential Proprty Tribunal, who will compare your rent with rents charged for similar properties and to other market rents in the area. You will be told how to appeal when you are advised of your rent changes.
From 1 October 2007 all new tenants will not be able to appeal against the first rent increase as this increase is not covered by Section 13 of the Housing Act 1988.
Understanding rent charges
The total rent charge shown on your tenancy agreement/rent increase notice may comprise a number of different elements:
- Rent charge - The rent element enables us to cover the cost of managing and maintaining your home
- Service Charge - This charge covers the cost of providing and maintaining services provided by us such as communal gardening or cleaning
- Water Rates - On a small number of schemes we collect water rates on behalf of the water authority
- Heating Charges – In some instances we supply heating and make an applicable charge
- Furnished Accommodation – We have a small number of furnished properties. We collect the charges for furnishings as part of the rent
- General Charges – These can include rent for garages, or a parking space and also apply when our residents take up the services of Orbit South Contents Insurance scheme
- General Counselling and Support Charges - This charge covers specific services provided to more vulnerable residents to enable them to live independently. Such services are not eligible for Housing Benefit. However, they may be eligible for Supporting People Grant which is payable by the Local Authority Supporting People Team. In some situations, where we receive grant direct from the Local Authority, you may not have to pay for general counselling and support yourself
Can I appeal against a service charge increase?
- Secure tenants – Yes by writing to the Rent Officers within 28 days of receiving their decision
- Assured tenants – Yes to the Residential Property Tribunal