We have written to all our residents to let you know what your rents and service charges will be from 3 April 2023
Plymouth Community Homes offers tenants excellent value for money, and our rents remain significantly lower than other local social housing associations, and all private rents.
We are proud that our social rents are amongst the lowest in England – and are at least 50% lower than the cost of renting the same property from a private landlord.
Our affordable rents on our newer homes are between 20 and 30% lower than if rented privately.
We are a social landlord and a not for profit community benefit organisation with no shareholders, so money from rents is invested directly back into looking after our homes and communities, and building more homes for future residents.
Some residents also pay us a service charge, which includes the cost of providing communal services like caretaking, cleaning, grounds maintenance and, in some blocks, services like communal lighting, individual heating and TV services.
PCH does not make any profit on our service charges, and only charges what it costs to provide those services.
Residents living in our sheltered accommodation pay a different charge which includes the cost of providing support and alarm services.
Any service charges are in addition to your social rent. As they cover our costs for providing services, they can go up or down each year.
This includes any adjustment to reflect the actual cost of services from the previous year, compared to what we estimated those costs would be.
How we set our rents
Like all businesses, we are dealing with increased costs and rising inflation rates, which means it is more expensive for us to carry out repairs and improvements, and to build new affordable homes. Our rents are our main source of income to help us meet these costs.
We set our rents using Government guidance, and this year, the Government has caped rent increases for all social housing providers at 7%. This is less than the 11.1% increase it would otherwise have been, based on the standard formula of allowing increases of inflation + 1% (using the September Consumer Prices inflation rate of 10.1% plus 1%).
By capping rent increases at 7%, PCH will absorb some of the additional costs created by the increased rate of inflation.
Rents this year
The majority of our tenants will see a 7% increase in their rent from April 2023, and this applies to anyone paying social rent or living in a home built during the last 11 years.
Shared Owners will also see a 7% increase in rents, and garage and parking space rents will increase by 7% too.
Some of our affordable rent tenants will not have a 7% increase – and instead could see a rent reduction, or a lower increase.
Around 2,900 tenants in older properties who have been paying an affordable rent will switch to paying a social rent, as the additional rent we needed to help build homes and regenerate North Prospect is nearing completion.
This means around 1,500 tenants will see a reduction in their rent from April 2023.
A similar number will see an increase in their rent, but it will be less than 7%.
The change will vary depending on how your affordable rent compares with the new social rent.
How will I know what changes are being made to my rent?
All tenants will get an individual letter explaining their rent and service charges, and what the changes mean for them.
Service charges this year
If you pay a service charge, you will be sent a statement along with your rent letter to explain what the charges will be for the coming year.
The majority of our service charges are increasing, because PCH is facing increased costs for labour, energy, materials and services as a result of the increased rate of inflation and cost-of-living rises.
We do not make any profit on our service charges and only pass on the costs involving in providing the services. We have worked hard to try and make sure the amounts remain affordable for our tenants.
This year, more than two thirds of service charges will increase by less than £5 a week, and 80% of all increases will be less than £7 a week.
This year, PCH will not fully recover its service charge costs as we have taken a decision to absorb some of the extra costs of supplying services between October 2021 and September 2022 to help support our tenants, rather than pass on the full amounts. We are only doing this because of the unprecedented cost of living rises, and because we appreciate tenants may not have realised how much more the costs would be than the estimate.
Moving forward, this will not be an option again, so tenants will need to budget for this year’s charges (April 2023-March 2024), which will be incorporated into the following year’s charges to come in April 2024.
Support charges for residents of sheltered accommodation will be facing a new increase this year. The current charge of £12.27 per week has not been increased for more than 14 years, and no longer covers the full cost of the service.
Plymouth City Council fund this charge for tenants who receive housing-related benefits, but the council is not able to pay any more to fund an increase at present.
PCH is having to introduce a new charge of £1 per week from 3 April for existing tenants towards the costs of providing housing with support services for these tenants, and the charge will increase steadily each year until it covers the difference between what the council pays PCH and the full cost.
Here to help
We know that any change in household finances can be difficult, and we understand the cost-of-living pressures facing our tenants. We are trying to help our tenants with these challenges as much as we can.
We have carried out a careful analysis of the planned rent and service charge increase to make sure they remain within the recommended ‘affordability bracket’ for our tenants.
PCH staff are here to support you if you are struggling to pay your bills, and can offer help with applying for benefits, reducing your bills or accessing Government financial support.
More information and useful animations are available on our Rents and Service Charges webpages.