What is my rent used for?

Your rent is used to manage, maintain and improve your home, strengthen your community and help fund the building of new homes.

How is my rent charged?

Your rent is charged on a weekly basis and is due weekly in advance.

This year payments are due from 5 April 2021 to 3 April 2022.

If you choose to pay fortnightly, your payment will need to cover the current week and week following. You can also pay monthly in advance. We check your account at the end of each week.

What are the dates for the rent year?

Our rent year runs from 5 April 2021 to 3 April 2022.

There will be 52 weeks during this period.

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 50 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.

When are the rent free weeks?

The ‘rent-free weeks’ will be the weeks starting 27 December 2021 and 28 March 2022.

Will I still get my free week if my rent account is in arrears?

If you are in arrears, have a court order or have another arrangement in place to clear arrears, you will still be expected to make payments during the rent free weeks.

When a property is first let, how does PCH set the rent?

When PCH sets the rent for your home it will either be set at a “Social Rent” or at an “Affordable Rent”. Affordable rents are set higher than social rents.

What is a social rent?

A social rent is based on a Government formula which takes into account the number of bedrooms together with local wages and the open market value of the property.

PCH social rents are usually about 50% cheaper than renting the same property from a private landlord.

What is an affordable rent?

An affordable rent is higher than social rent but is still cheaper than renting from a private landlord by around 20%.

We set our affordable rents using Government guidance which says they can be charged at up to 80% of an equivalent property let by a landlord in the private market (inclusive of any service charge). Rents on newly built and acquired properties in the last 10 years are charged at 80% of market rent. 

Rents on older properties will be charged at 72% of market rent from April 2021. The premium above social rent is used to support building new homes.

Why is my rent changing?

Like all social landlords, we follow the government’s guidelines relating to rents that we charge each year. 

Our “social rents” are amongst the lowest in the country and although any increase is difficult, PCH makes sure they remain within the reach of local people.

From April 2021 we will be increasing most rents by 1.5% following the government’s guidelines. This is based on inflation at 0.5% (using the September 2020 Consumer Price Index) plus 1%. This increase will apply to most of our homes including newly built homes.

We know that any changes in your finances will be difficult. Your rent helps us to keep homes in good repair, make necessary improvements and build more affordable homes, so that we can meet the needs of local people both now and in the future. We know that your home is important to you and we make sure that your rent goes back into providing good quality affordable housing and supporting the communities where we work.

Over recent years some of our older homes have been relet at an ‘affordable rent’.  A small proportion of this rent contributes money to help support PCH in building much needed new homes for rent. This charge includes both the rent and service charges as a single combined charge.

We have the flexibility within the government’s guidelines to reduce these rents and have chosen to do so by up to 5% from April 2021. If this reduction, on any specific home, reduces the rent to the same level as if it were let at a social rent plus service charges then we will charge the social rent plus service charges.

Specific details of the changes to rents will be explained in individual rent notification letters due to be sent to residents at the end of February 2021.

What if I fall behind with my rent or service charges?

We understand that you might be worried about what the Covid-19 virus outbreak means for your income, home and your ability to pay your bills.

Customers still need to continue paying their rent, but if you’re struggling we have a range of help available for you. If your circumstances haven’t changed, please just carry on paying your rent as normal.

But if you’re struggling, please let us know as soon as possible. Our Incomes and Financial Inclusion Team will help you with an alternative agreement about paying your rent.

The sooner we know, the sooner we can find a solution for you, so if you need help please contact the Income Recovery and Financial Inclusion Team as soon as possible on Freephone 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.

Money worries, especially debt, can have longstanding effects on your health, as well as having wider implications for you and your family. We work with a number of agencies that can help you resolve your problems in complete confidence.

Most people struggle from time to time to make ends meet and life can throw up unforeseen costs that result in you being short of money. There are however some key indications that you may have a debt problem. Are you:

  • Having trouble paying your rent?
  • Having to borrow money to pay day to day living expenses?
  • Borrowing to meet outstanding debt repayments?
  • Struggling to meet minimum credit card payments?

Last year we supported hundreds of people to resolve their debt problems - if you are worrying about money and paying your rent please contact us as soon as possible.

How can I get help with my rent and service charges?

If you have a low income and do not get any help to pay your rent at present, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

If you are of pension age and would like to make an application for Housing Benefit you can do this online at www.plymouth.gov.uk/benefitsandgrants/housing­benefit or by contacting Plymouth City Council at their 1st Stop shop in the City Centre or by speaking to our Income Recovery and Financial Inclusion Team on Freephone 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.

If you are of working age you will need to apply for Universal Credit which replaces a range of working age benefits and Tax Credits to simplify the system and make work pay. Universal Credit has been introduced in Plymouth and may apply to you. To find out if you can make a claim, and for the latest information, visit, www.gov.uk/univer­sal-credit speak to our Income Recovery and Financial Inclusion Team on Freephone 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.

I am receiving Housing Benefit. Do I need to reapply?

If you receive housing benefit now, you do not need to reapply.

You will receive a letter from the Housing Benefit Office that will tell you your new benefit entitlement and the revised amount you should pay each week.

Before receiving Universal Credit

If you start claiming Universal Credit there will be a delay of around a month before your regular payments arrive, known as the waiting period - as Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears. We advise keeping 4 weeks rent credit on your rent account to provide a financial cushion.

I am receiving Universal Credit. Do I need to reapply?

If you receive Universal Credit and there are any changes to your rent or service charges you need to report this change to the Department of Work and Pensions by logging onto your Universal Credit journal.

You can log onto your Universal Credit journal and advise of any change in your rent or service charges. This must be done before the end of your assessment period in which the change has occurred.

Please report this change to the DWP on, or as soon after the 5th April 2021 as possible.

Paying By Direct Debit

Direct Debit is the best way to pay your rent.

Direct Debit is safe and easy which is why a large number of our residents now choose to pay this way. If you set up a Direct Debit you are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee. You can pay weekly, fortnightly, four weekly or monthly on any date you choose.

These payments should be made in advance in line with the terms of your tenancy agreement.

For more information or to set up a Direct Debit, contact us on Freephone 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.

MyPCH

MyPCH is the online portal that puts you in control. If you want to check your rent account, you can do it through your MyPCH account. With MyPCH, you can also report repairs, update your contact details and make a comment or complaint online, 24 hours a day from your computer, tablet or phone.

Registering for a MyPCH account is easy. Just go to: https://mypch.plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk/

 

Information about benefits

Bedroom Tax

If you are below pensionable age, receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and you have one or more spare bedrooms, the amount you receive will be reduced. You need to pay the difference, commonly known as the Bedroom Tax (or spare room subsidy), yourself. If you are having difficulty paying this, please contact us as soon as possible and we will do our best to help you and provide advice.

We are able to help anyone who wants to move to a smaller home and we have already helped many residents move to accommodation that suits their needs. If you would like to move to a smaller home please contact us.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit was introduced in Plymouth in 2016 as part of the national roll out by government. Universal Credit is the new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It replaces a range of working-age benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit with a single calendar monthly payment.

If you currently receive Housing Benefit, this is paid directly to us as your landlord. Under Universal Credit, this will be paid to you with all your other benefits and you will then need to pay us your rent.

We realise that this is a big change but we will do everything we can to make this as easy as possible for you.

We contact people who we think may be affected to see if there is anything that they are concerned about or if they need any additional support.

If we speak to you about Universal Credit, we will need to ask you a lot of questions about your income, your outgoings and any debts you have – this information will be held in complete confidence. It is important that you are honest with us so that we can give you the right advice and help if you need it.

If you would like to find out more about Universal Credit and how it may affect you, contact our Income Recovery and Financial Inclusion Team on 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.

Benefit Cap

There is a limit in the total amount of welfare benefits that people of a working age can receive – this is called the Benefit Cap.

The Benefit Cap is £20,000. There are exemptions if you are in receipt of Personal Independence Payment / Disability Living Allowance/Support Group Employment and Support Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefit, War Disablement Pensions, War Widow/Widowers benefits or if you work enough hours to get Working Tax Credit.

If you have any queries concerning the Benefit Cap and how it may affect you, please call the Income Recovery & Financial Inclusion Team on 0800 028 0350 or (01752) 388121.