Rents and service charges from April 2024

20 February 24

Rent And Service Charges 2024

We have written to all our residents to let you know what your rents and service charges will be from 1 April 2024.

 

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.

PCH negotiates energy costs with suppliers to get the best possible price but if prices increase, we have to reflect this increase in the service charge. 

Residents living in our sheltered accommodation also pay for the cost of providing support services through Support Charges.

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

We set our rents using Government guidance which says we can increase rents by the September rate of inflation plus 1%, so from April 2024, rent increases will be 7.7%.

This is based on the September 2023 Consumer Prices inflation rate of 6.7% plus 1%.  Service charges are charged in addition to the rent, but affordable rents are inclusive of service charges.

The rent paid by shared owners on the share of their property owned by PCH will also be increasing by 7.7%, as will rents for garage and parking spaces.

 

How many rent payments are there in the year?

If you pay weekly, we ask you to pay your rent for the whole year over 51 weeks so that you will have two rent-free weeks.

If you pay your rent by monthly Direct Debit, your rent for the year is paid in 12 equal instalments.

However you pay, the total for the year will be the same.

 

What is the ‘additional rent week’?

Every five to six years, there are 53 Mondays within our rent year, meaning there are 53 weekly rent payments due.

 

How does the additional rent week work with Universal Credit?

If you are receiving, or start receiving, Universal Credit and this includes your housing costs (rent), please note the DWP only pays a maximum of 52 weekly payments of rent and eligible service charges in any year. This means tenants with weekly tenancies will receive a week’s less Universal Credit housing costs than their annual rent charge.

The additional week’s rent will still need to be paid to PCH.

 

When are the rent-free weeks?

The ‘rent-free weeks’ will be the weeks starting 23 December 2024 and 24 March 2025.

 

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.

We do not make any profit on our service charges and only pass on the costs involving in providing the services.

This year, the majority of our communal service charges will be broadly staying the same. However individual heating charges will be increasing as energy costs have risen across the UK. These charges are directly passed on based on actual individual usage. While the cost of energy has started to fall, there will be an increase this year due to the previous cost of energy being higher than estimated.

The average weekly service charge across all our homes will be increasing by 2%, and in some sheltered housing schemes, the weekly charge will increase on average by 12% due to the individual heating charges.

Our charges are also affected by the increased rate of inflation, so the cost of goods, services, and wages PCH has to pay for has gone up. 

 

Why are my support charges changing this year?

As we explained to our sheltered housing tenants last year, the Support Charge they pay will be rising by £2 from 2024, and again every year for the next few years, as there is a significant shortfall between the amounts being paid and what it costs PCH to provide these services.

We are increasing the charges steadily to gradually close the gap, which we explained to residents in meetings and face to face consultations last year. For those tenants who started their tenancy from April 2023 or later and who already pay the full charge, the charge will increase by £1.80 per week, which is an increase of 7.7% to cover the increase in our costs.

 

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 recognise the challenges people have because of the increased cost of living and we are doing all we can to help.

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.

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