Every year we review your rent charges and how we spend your money.
We understand that because of the cost-of-living crisis, many tenants might be worried about how to manage your money and pay your bills, including your rent. As an Association, we too are facing big challenges around increasing costs and how we deliver services to you.
We have been consulting tenants and reviewing our financial plans. We have been looking at how we can balance increasing costs, prioritise what we do, deliver quality services, invest in homes, and manage how we keep our rents affordable for our tenants.
Most of you will have received a letter from us recently setting out your new rent charge from 1 April 2023. But for those of you who still have a ‘registered’ tenancy, and whose rent increases are reviewed every three years, you will receive notice from the Rent Officer in the usual manner.
We believe our rents still provide good value for money as we continue to deliver core services and commitments to our tenants and communities that we serve. Our increase of 7% is much lower than the cost-of-living inflation rate.
Listening to you
During November and December 2022, we wrote to tenants and held face-to-face consultation events. We also spoke to members of our Customer Advisory Panel. In the first phase of our consultation, we asked tenants to prioritise which of our services were most important to you.
Your views are crucial to us, so thanks to everyone who has given us feedback. We got 215 responses and a number of tenants came to our face-to-face consultation events. Here is what you told us:
- over 79% of you thought the services that Partick Housing Association (PHA) provides offer value for money; and
- almost 71% of you thought that PHA strikes a reasonable balance between the quality of our homes, the cost of the services we deliver and how customers can afford them.
When we asked you about your top service or investment priorities for PHA:
- almost 83% said delivering effective repairs and maintenance;
- almost 72% said delivering planned improvements;
- over 47% said keeping closes, back courts and communal areas clean and tidy;
- over 44% said providing new homes to meet local housing needs;
- almost 26% said working in partnership with others to tackle anti-social behaviour;
- over 22% said working in partnership with others in the community to deliver services for tenants and residents; and
- almost 8% said providing more information and services digitally and through our website.
This has helped us understand your needs better, so we have tailored our plans on how we deliver services and the rents we will charge. During January 2023, we held a second phase of consultation about the level of rent increase that we were planning and proposed a 7% rise.
Keeping rents affordable
We aim for rents across all our homes to be affordable, equitable, transparent, consistent and reasonable.
We looked at the cost-of-living as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in September 2022, which was 10.1%.
This is also the figure that the Government used when it increased pensions and other benefits by 10.1%. We need to increase our rents each year so we can continue investing in maintaining and improving all our homes now and in the future. The Association must manage increasing costs to deliver services and maintain homes, so we need to have enough money to cover our fuel bills, supplies and materials, repairs costs, investment plans and staff costs. This means we must put up our rent, while ensuring that what we charge stays affordable to most tenants.
We understand that this past year, more than most, has been a challenging time for everyone. We know that tenants have limited incomes to pay for rising fuel bills, food costs and other pressures. Taking this into account, we are increasing rents by 7% which is much lower than the inflation rate. We are committed to supporting tenants facing financial difficulties.
How will this affect you?
Our rents will go up by 7% from 1 April 2023, for our social rented and shared ownership properties.
This increase means we can continue to keep rents affordable, deliver effective repairs and maintenance, invest in our homes so they meet modern standards, and keep common areas clean and tidy. It will also allow us to deliver new homes, tackle anti-social behaviour, work in partnership with others in the community, and offer more information and services digitally through our website. Tenants have told us that all of these are priorities.
For PHA tenants this will mean an average increase of around £5.89 per week, depending upon the type and size of property that you live in.
If you are a PHA tenant who gets assistance with your rent, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be updated to include any rent changes.
You can pay your rent and service charges by Direct Debit, Standing Order, on-line, or by using your payment card. Paying by Direct Debit is the easiest and handiest way to pay your rent. Once the Direct Debit is set up, your rent payment will be collected on the same agreed date every month, or more frequently if need be. This will save you time and takes away much of the effort of paying your rent.
If you currently pay by Direct Debit, we will automatically charge your new rent, but if you pay by Standing Order please tell your bank of the new charge.
If you currently get help with your rent through Housing Benefit, any change in your rent will be reflected automatically within your award. We will tell the Council about your rent increase – you should receive an updated Housing Benefit award letter from them for information. If you currently pay part of your rent to the Association but get some Housing Benefit, you should keep paying the same amount until we tell you of your new payment.
If you get Universal Credit, your Housing Officer will contact you directly within the coming 4-6 weeks to discuss increasing the rent element of your Universal Credit. The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) expects you to notify them of your rent increase, but we want to offer you our support to do this.
We are here to help
If you have any concerns or queries about paying your rent, please get in touch with your Housing Officer – we are here to help.
We also offer a free, confidential and independent money advice service for all PHA tenants. Stephen Lawson is our Money Advice Officer and he can offer help and advice on social security benefits and tax credit benefits. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your circumstances with Stephen, please contact him directly on 0141 330 1487 or email@example.com.