As a not-for-profit social housing provider, our rents are lower than market rents charged for equivalent homes in this area. We want our homes to be affordable to local people, including customers on lower incomes.
The government closely controls the rents of housing associations, including Homes Plus. Each year, social rent levels are set out in the Rent Standard published by the government’s regulator for social housing to ensure that rents are fair, wherever you live.
Social rents usually change in line with the cost of living. Rising energy costs along with higher prices in shops and supermarkets have caused the cost of living to rise. Although the costs that we face are rising too, we support the government’s decision to cap social rent increases at 7% this year.
We wrote to you in February confirming exactly what your new rent will be from April 2023, along with any service charges payable. If you cannot find your letter, you can request details of your 2023 rent changes by completing our online form hereand we will email this information to you.
Homes Plus delivering value
Our name makes it clear that your home is what’s most important to us. It’s our number one priority to provide safe, well-maintained, affordable homes.
It’s also a reminder of our drive to do more, providing free and confidential Plus services like employment and money advice, as well as support and investment in your community. We are offering even more care and support for older people and families. We are investing in repairs and improvements to our 19,000 homes and we are supporting local groups, volunteers and grassroots organisations with funding through our My Community Fund.
In challenging times, we are here for you.
Some tenancies include service charges. Any service charges are shown in the rent schedule you receive each February.
A service charge is a payment towards the cost of communal areas and services outside your home. We do not make any profit from service charges and you only pay for the services you receive.
These are examples of some of the shared services which are covered by these charges:
- Employing a caretaker
- Cleaning shared areas and removing rubbish
- Looking after communal gardens, including cutting the grass
- Repairing shared facilities like door entry systems, lifts and lighting
- Fire safety including repairing and testing some alarms in entry areas, stairways and corridors
Where we provide a service that is shared by a number of customers, the amount that we charge is the total cost of that service divided by the number of tenants who benefit from it.
Help and advice are part of our Plus Services
There’s a reason for the plus in Homes Plus.
It’s what sets us apart as a not-for-profit landlord determined to make a positive difference to homes, lives and communities in Staffordshire and Shropshire.
As well as being a trusted provider of affordable homes and care services, we’re here to do more for our customers, offering free and confidential services like employment and money advice as well as support and investment for our neighbourhoods.
If you are struggling with your bills or finding it hard to manage your household budget, please talk to us. Our expert advisors are here to help and are also ready to support you to boost your job prospects.
Our teams offer friendly, practical and helpful advice that is free of charge, including:
- Money advice to help you avoid debt and keep your home secure.
- Benefits advice to help you make a claim and ensure that you receive the support you need.
- Employment advice with training, coaching and volunteering opportunities to help you find work.
Simply complete our online referral form and we will be in touch.
You can also access support from Citizens Advice by visiting their website –www.citizensadvice.org.uk
StepChange debt charity has a team of experts who can help with debt problems – www.stepchange.org
If you are struggling with your mental health there are number of charities that offer help, including Mind – www.mind.org.uk
We are here to help
As well as being a trusted provider of affordable homes, we offer our customers free and confidential employment and money advice.
You can also find helpful tips and information about saving money, keeping homes warm and how to stay safe here:
What is social and affordable rent?
As a not-for-profit landlord, most of our homes are available at social or affordable rents, which will be lower than the rent for similar privately rented properties. These rents are set by government. They can be charged weekly or monthly and are reviewed annually. We write to customers during February, with an individual review for each tenancy account. Rent changes take place from 1 April each year.
How is your rent calculated?
Social and affordable rents are calculated using a standard formula, which is why you will sometimes hear this kind of tenancy called ‘formula rent’. Rent is based on:
- The value of your home
- Number of bedrooms
- Average earnings in the area
- Location of the property
The government has announced that social rents will increase by a maximum of 7% this year.
How can I pay my rent?
We offer different ways to pay your rent, so that you can choose the option that works best for you.
For ways to pay your rent, please see our paying my rent page.
Housing Benefit and Universal Credit
If you are on a low income, you could be eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help to pay your rent.
- Housing Benefit or Universal Credit can pay all or part of your rent
- The amount that you receive depends on your income and individual circumstances
- You don’t have to be unemployed to apply for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
- It is your responsibility to claim benefits to help you to pay your rent but if you are not sure whether you are eligible, contact our employment and money advice team.
When your rent changes
If you receive Housing Benefit
The Housing Benefit office has been notified of the new rental charge for 2022/2023 and will re-calculate your housing benefit entitlement from April 2022. If you currently receive Housing Benefit and your circumstances have not changed, you need take no further action.
If you receive Universal Credit
You need to update the to-do list in your journal, in line with the rent review letter we recently sent to you.
Do this on the day your rent changes, which is stated in your letter, or before the end of your monthly assessment period.
You should also receive a prompt from UC to update your journal.
Payments made by Housing Benefit or by the DWP will be made in arrears. Your rent is payable in advance and it is your responsibility to make sure that it is paid on time. If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is cut, you will need to cover any shortfall. Your home is at risk if your account is in arrears.
If you are struggling financially, talk to us, we may be able to help. Contact us as soon as you are in difficulty.
I have received my Direct Debit instruction and it is more than I expected. Why is this?
As part of the terms and conditions of your tenancy you are required to pay rent in advance. This has been calculated into this year’s direct debit payments. The number of weeks will be determined by your legacy landlord and the terms and conditions within your tenancy agreement.
There have been two weeks added to my direct debit payments over the year, but my tenancy agreement only states I need to be one week in advance, what should I do?
Please contact us to discuss your payments. We can check your tenancy agreement and amend if an error has occurred.
I have received my direct debit instruction, and I cannot afford the rent in advance added onto my payments. What should I do?
We are here to help! Please contact us and we will work with you and your individual circumstances.
I have received multiple letters detailing different payment amounts. What do I need to do?
We apologise for any confusion if you have received more than one Direct Debit calculation letter. Unfortunately, there was an error with the information uploaded into the Allpay system. We have now rectified this and a further calculation letter has been sent out. The latest version should now be correct. However, if you would like to discuss this with a member of the Income Team, or would like reassurance, please contact us.