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Annual rent increases – Your questions answered:

This document provides information about the 2013 annual rent increases for South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) residents.

Annual rent increases: Your questions answered

This page provides information about the 2014 annual rent increases for South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) residents.

It explains:

  • Why rent is going up
  • How and when the rise will take effect
  • How residents can access financial advice and support if needed

If, after reading this, you have any questions about the changes to your rent payments, please contact us in the following ways:

Make sure you’re getting the help you need

If you would like a free confidential chat with one of our Advice and Support Team, please phone 01782 312000.

You may also find this free benefits advice website helpful in making sure you’re receiving all that you’re entitled to.

Why is SSHA putting up my rent?

Your rent is used to manage, maintain and improve your home and your community. The cost of providing these services has gone up. As you will also be aware VAT increased to 20% three years ago but unlike many businesses we are unable to claim this back.

We need to increase the rent we charge to carry on providing services like repairs and improvements to homes and communities for our existing customers. We are currently investing around £5m a year on these improvements. It will also help us house more people by enabling us to provide at least a further 200 affordable homes in the next two years.

When does the new rent payment come into effect?

The new charges apply from 7th April 2014 so you will need to adjust your usual payment in April, unless you pay by Direct Debit in which case no action is required (see ‘What do I need to do’ below)

How do you work out how much to put my rent up by?

Like all social landlords, we have to follow the government’s guidelines relating to social housing rent increases. All UK social landlords will be putting up their rent in line with the formula below.

RPI (Retail Price Index) from September 2013 plus 0.5% plus up to £2 per week.

What is the extra £2 a week for?

The housing association can add or subtract a maximum £2.00 per week to move the property to its ‘target rent’.

The target rent is set using a formula from the government to ensure that by 2014 all social landlords (such as housing associations and local authorities) charge the same weekly rent for the same size and type of property in the same area. It also takes into account other factors such as property prices and average earnings in the area.

Calculation for 2014/2015: SSHA’s rent increase for 2013 is calculated as follows:

  • RPI in September 2013= 3.2%
  • + 0.5% = 3.7% increase to SSHA rents
  • Then plus or minus a maximum of £2.00 to move the property towards target rent.

For example:

  • Current rent = £70.00
  • Current rent plus 3.7% = £72.59
  • Target rent for the property = £74.59
  • So the housing association adds £2.00 to 72.59 to take the property to target rent to 74.59

This then becomes the new rent for 2013/14

This property is now at target rent so any future increases will only be calculated as RPI + 0.5% from 2015/2016 onwards.

PLEASE NOTE: The above is purely an example to show our rent increases are calculated generally. We will be writing to all tenants in February 2014 to explain to them how their own rent increase has been worked out.

Why are some people's rents going up more than others?

The rent being charged on a number of our properties is currently below the target rent for the local area. As explained above, we are working to bring these homes up to the right level in line with Government requirements.

We recognise that on top of this, the impact of the increase will differ from one person to the next depending on what benefits they may be in receipt of and of course we are very aware that the harsh economic climate is adding to the financial pressure that many of our residents are feeling.

We are committed to ensuring that every SSHA resident has a home they can afford to live in and our highly experienced Advice and Support Officers are available to provide free, expert one-to-one advice should you need it. To access this service please call 01785 312000

Couldn't you find the money somewhere else?

SSHA works hard to make sure that every penny of rent we receive is ploughed back into providing better homes and communities. We are always looking for ways to do things more efficiently and regularly ask residents for their views on how we can improve.

There is a wide range of ways that tenants can get involved with SSHA and really help change the way we run our services. They range from membership of our Residents’ Scrutiny Group and Residents’ Sounding Group through to testing services out ‘incognito’ as a Mystery Shopper and even serving on our Board of Management.

Where will this money be spent?

SSHA is a not for profit organisation so every penny of income we receive goes back into our core business of providing good quality affordable housing in South Staffordshire and supporting the communities where we work.

Much of the money will continue to go into improving your neighbourhood and vital projects in the local community. We want to help you create places where you want to live and where people have the chance to improve their own lives.

Last year we invested money in hundreds of improvements to our homes and neighbourhoods, as well as working with local community groups to set up and run job clubs, youth clubs and other projects that contribute to healthy thriving neighbourhoods. This work and more will continue in the year ahead.

Will other social housing providers be putting up their rent too?

Yes, most housing associations and local authorities across the UK will be putting up their rent in line with the Government guidelines.

What do I need to do?

If you pay by Direct Debit you don’t need to do anything. We will make the necessary adjustments to your regular Direct Debit payment.

We will also tell the Housing Benefit team about the new charges and they will send you a new Housing Benefit entitlement letter around March/April time. Housing Benefit will also inform us of your new entitlement so again there is nothing you need to do.

If you pay by any other method than Direct Debit, you will need to contact your bank or building society to alter your Standing Order as soon as possible or pay in the new amount in the usual way by Swipecard and debit or credit card.

What help is available for residents who find themselves struggling financially?

SSHA will continue to offer support and financial advice to all its residents, especially those having money difficulties during the current economic climate. If you are facing debt or rent arrears, please contact us as soon as possible – the earlier you speak to us, the more we can help.

SSHA’s trained staff are able to give financial and welfare benefits advice to residents including help with applying for benefits.

For more information about your rent or to access financial advice please contact us:

We recognise that increases in rent and other charges are never welcome, especially in these difficult times. However it is hoped that the above information helps explain why it is necessary to increase rents. Please be assured of our commitment to delivering homes and services at the best value for money and ensuring that residents who need it are able to access the best possible financial advice and assistance.