Setting your rent and service charges
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Housing rent setting
The council is responsible for setting the level of rent and service charges that are payable by tenants.
The council adheres to the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 to determine the approach to setting rents and service charges. The actual level of the rents is determined by this legislation and any changes follow consultation with tenant representatives, prior to being agreed by the full council.
Rent is paid into the 'Housing Revenue Account', which is a ring-fenced account with the sole purpose that any money paid in or expenditure incurred is for the council's housing stock. It also covers the cost of paying interest on the debt the council were obliged to accept when the previous housing subsidy system ended in 2012.
The rent that tenants pay does not contribute to other services that the council provides, nor is it subsidised by Council Tax receipts.
Each year the council considers carefully how much money it will need to raise the following year from rents and subsidies in order to continue to maintain decent homes and meet all of the housing related costs.
Communal service charges
Certain types of accommodation (such as extra-care and hostels) have additional service charges that you are liable to pay. These charges apply regardless of actual use or the number of tenants in the dwelling. There is no scope to waive or reduce any charge.
Housing benefit can be paid to cover some or all of any communal charges that are due, if tenants are eligible to receive such support.
The charges are for services provided for the shared facilities and/or communal areas, regardless of actual use. It mainly covers:
- utilities for the building (but not domestic use);
- internal/external cleaning and grounds maintenance (as required);
- furniture and equipment; and
- any generic costs linked to the building.
In a small number of hostels, Council Tax is also included.
Domestic service charges
These charges are for heating, lighting and water charges must be paid individually by tenants. They are not covered by housing benefit, even if tenants are eligible to receive such support. This is a Department of Works and Pensions ruling regarding domestic utility consumption. It is not a decision made by the council.
The council deal directly with the utility suppliers where domestic service charges are included within the amount that you must pay. There is no scope to make separate arrangements.
Charges included cover:
- heating charges relate to the domestic supply to heat the dwellings;
- lighting charge is for the lights in your home; and
- water and sewerage is for your own domestic consumption/waste.
Tenants are liable for any other charges (such as those domestic utilities that are not included within the service charge, or Council Tax) by making their own arrangements with the relevant supplier or billing authority.