Rent and service charge review

What does my rent pay for?

Your rent pays for:

• Repairs and improvements to your home and surrounding neighbourhood

• Our office and staff costs to provide homes and services

• Interest on the loans we have taken out in order to build homes.

How do you decide how much my rent is?

The Government requires social landlords to apply a set formula when calculating annual rent increases. From April 2016, the majority of social housing rents will be reduced by 1% per year, for four years. This means your weekly/monthly rent charge will go down.

However, this cut does not apply to the service charges you pay. This therefore means that your total weekly/monthly amount you pay in rent and service charges may not go down. For example:

If your current rent is £100 and service charge is £5   £105.00
Next year, your rent will go down by 1% to £99.00
However, the service charge may increase from £5 to £6.20
This would mean that your new total would be £105.20

If the service charge reduces, then you will of course be charged a lower amount.

What does my service charge pay for?

The breakdown of your service charge outlines the cost of the services you receive that are not covered by your rent, usually for the maintenance of the communal areas on your estate and/or block.

Your service charge may pay for items such as:

• Grass cutting and gardening

• Cleaning of communal areas

• Gas, electricity and water use in communal areas

• Window cleaning

• Servicing and maintenance of communal television aerials

• Laundry facilities

• The service and maintenance of CCTV equipment

• Caretaking services, including cost of equipment and materials

• Parking controls

• Testing, servicing and inspection of fire safety equipment.

Who decides how much my service charge is?

The way in which your service charge is set is dependent on your tenancy agreement.

We calculate your service charge by looking at how much services have cost the previous year and estimating the costs over the coming year. For example, if water for the communal area cost £100 the previous year and we are advised of a 5% increase this year, we would charge £105 for this year.

Variable service charge

If your tenancy started in 2010 or after, you will have a variable service charge.

This is also the case if your tenancy started before 2010 but you agreed to changes to your tenancy agreement in 2010.

Having a variable service charge means that if we estimate your service charge incorrectly we will correct this in the following year’s service charge. For example, if we estimated it would cost £220 to cut the grassed area at your scheme and it only cost us £200, the £20 overcharged would be refunded through the following year’s service charge. The same would apply where we have undercharged for a service in any particular year.

We will write to you in September if you have a variable service charge to advise you of the actual costs of services you have received.

Fixed service charge

If you have an older tenancy agreement or licence and did not agree to the changes, then you will be paying a fixed service charge. This means where we have overestimated charges in one particular year, we will not be able to refund the amount through your following year’s service charge.

Service Charge FAQs

What does ‘Staff Costs’ cover?

This is to cover the cost of staff connected directly to your services, for example a scheme manager or staff working on the estates services contracts.

What does the charge ‘Refuse Disposal’ cover?

This charge covers the cost of removing any fly tipped items or one off cleaning. As this is quite difficult to predict we will use actual costs, averaged over three years.

The council are not responsible for clearing any items fly tipped in areas where the land has been adopted by Aldwyck Housing Group.

This charge does not cover the cleaning of wheelie bins.

What does the charge ‘Tree Works’ cover?

This covers all communal tree pruning and felling.

What does the charge ‘Sundries’ cover?

These are incidental costs for things such as rock salt which may have been purchased for use on your estate. Accounts will be amended accordingly on your next service charge statement if it is not used, but only if you pay a variable service charge (tenancy agreement signed).

What does ‘Personal Charge’ mean?

This is a charge for a service which relates directly to you as an individual resident i.e. water charges. This is not a communal charge.

What does the charge ‘Administration Fee’ cover?

This is charged to all rental customers at the standard 15% rate. The fee covers the administration costs of the services we provide.

Why are there two ‘Administration Fees’?

One is 7% and is added to charges from Management Agents. These are marked ‘Management Charge Fee’ on the statement. The other is 15%.

Why is my charge different from my neighbour in the next block?

This is quite common. An example would be where the electric bill for one block differs to another. If your service charges are ‘variable’ then each block will pay for exactly what they have consumed.

What happens if I have overpaid? (variable service charge only)

The surplus will be deducted from your next year’s estimated service charge.

What happens if I have underpaid? (variable service charge only)

The deficit will be added to your next year’s estimated service charge.

How can I pay my service charge?

• If you pay by Direct Debit your amount will be changed by Aldwyck from April 2018 to reflect the new amount. However, if you are on a payment plan or receiving Housing Benefit Shortfall then you should contact Aldwyck on 0300 500 6262 to have your Direct Debit amended.

• By rent payment card - during working hours you can call the automated telephone line on 0330 041 6497 for free. Out of hours please call 0844 557 8321 (calls to this number are charged at 7p per minute).

What if I have difficulty paying my service charge?

You must contact us immediately on 0300 500 6262 and we will be able to advise and assist you.

Why does my statement look different this year?

We've introduced a new computer system. The new format has been reviewed and we believe the new style is clearer and easier to understand.