Rent change 2023-24: resident information and FAQs
If you are a resident of Brighter Places you have been sent a letter in the post from us giving you notice of your rent change from April 2023 to March 2024.
Every year we review the level of your rent in line with government policy. This letter outlines the change to your rent payable from April 2023 and any action that you need to take.
The rent charge is separate to payment for service charges. If you pay a service charge, details of your charge for April 2023 to March 2024 will be included in your rent change letter.
If you have any questions you think we should add to this list, please get in touch with us. Email: email@example.com
Why has my rent increased so much this year?
Every year we review the level of your rent in line with government policy. This year the government stated housing associations can increase annual rents by up to a maximum 7% rise (known as the ‘rent cap’)
Following consultation with the Brighter Place resident engagement panel, the Brighter Places Board agreed a 7% rent rise from April 2023.
This has been a very difficult decision and one we haven’t taken lightly.
We considered very carefully what level of rent rise is fair to residents and means we can continue providing our services. Before setting the rent for 2023-24, we looked very closely at all options and consulted with our resident engagement panel and Board.
As a not for profit housing association the vast majority of income we receive from rent is used to run resident services, maintain homes, invest in energy efficiency retrofits in resident homes, build new homes and help create strong communities.
We appreciate that a rent rise of 7% will be a challenge for many of our residents. However the 7% rise won’t cover the increased costs we are paying to provide resident services including contractor and material costs.
Most benefits and the state pension will increase by 10.1% from 1 April but we appreciate many residents will be concerned about how to afford their rent alongside other outgoings.
Additional information. In the past three years the rent increase was linked to the Consumer price index (CPI), allowing an annual increase of CPI plus 1%. If this formula would have been used for the rent review from April 2023 the maximum rent increase would have been 11.1%.
Why have my service charges increased?
According to government rules we review our service charges each year at the same time as setting our rent.
Following a consultation with residents earlier this year, your service charge for 2023-24 is based on:
- expected costs for 2023-24 for contracted services such as cleaning and grounds maintenance
- An estimate for electricity costs during 2023-24
- An adjustment for what we spent in the 2021-22 financial year.
We will check at the end of the year if the actual costs were the same as the estimate. Any difference will be reflected in your service charges for 2024-25.
Who approves the rent increase and can I appeal against it?
The Brighter Places board approves the rent increase following consultation with the resident engagement panel.
If you have been a resident for over a year, you can feedback your concerns using this online form. Or you can call us on 0117 942 4600.
If you have been a resident for under a year, you can appeal. With your ‘notice of rent change – 2023-2024’ letter we enclosed a form – Form 4B. This explains how you can appeal against the rent increase.
If you want to appeal, you’ll need to do so before the increase takes effect. This is 1 April if your rent is charged monthly and 3 April if your rent is charged weekly.
I’m not happy with the services I receive / outstanding repairs in my home, but you’re asking me to pay more.
Most contractors we use to provide services for residents have increased their costs due to current conditions and price rises. The 7% rent rise won’t cover the increased costs we are paying contractors to provide these services.
We want to provide value for money so please come and talk to us if you have any feedback or concerns that can be investigated.
You can contact us by calling 0117 942 4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We aim to resolve any issues with you. However if you want to make a formal complaint please visit the ‘Feedback and Complaints’ page which provides details on the complaints process. There is a complaint form at the bottom of the web page that you can complete and submit.
You can also call us on 0117 942 4600.
I can’t afford my new rent amount.
We are here to help. Please speak to your Income Officer or your Housing Officer if you are struggling to pay your rent alongside other day to day living costs.
There are various ways we can help:
- We can set up an affordable repayment plan to help you pay your rent.
- You can talk to one of our income officers face to face every Monday to Friday morning at our office (Eden House, 10 Eastgate Office Park, Bristol, BS5 6XX)
- We can offer benefit assessments to make sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. We can also support you in applying for DHP (Discretionary Housing Payments)
- If your case is more complex our Tenant Support Team can provide support and advice tailored to your individual needs. Please contact the team on email@example.com or call 0117 942 4600 (Ask for option 4) Or find more details on our website
- Our Tenant Support Fund is available to any resident experiencing financial hardship. We can provide a one-off payment of supermarket or energy vouchers for up to £250 for a family or £200 for an individual. Please talk to your Housing Officer about making an application.
- We can also refer you to other agencies who can provide the support you need.
I already have a repayment plan for rent arrears from last year.
If you are currently on a repayment plan for arrears, please make sure your payments are increased in line with your new rent and service charge from April.
Do I need to let Universal Credit know?
Universal Credit will add a ‘Confirm your housing costs’ in your ‘to-do’ section of your Universal Credit account on:
- 1 April 2023 for those who pay rent/service charges monthly.
- 3 April 2023 for those who pay rent/services charges weekly.
Universal Credit will ask you to complete the ‘to do’ item at the end of their current assessment period, to ensure they get the correct housing payment.
The ‘Confirm your housing costs’ item will not show before the above dates.
You must complete the ‘to do’ before the end of your Universal Credit assessment period in April 2023 or you will miss out on the money you are due.
How will this look?
On the day of the change (1 or 3 April 2023), you will get notifications in your ‘to do’ section of the Universal Credit.
You will be asked similar questions to those shown below.
Note – If you do not pay service charges, type £00.00.
Change of circumstances
You don’t need to update your rent through the ‘change of circumstance’ facility – just complete the ‘to do’ item as above.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) encourages everyone to use their online services. You can log in here. Or you can call their helpline: 0800 328 5644
Do I need to let Housing Benefit know?
If your housing benefit is paid directly to Brighter Places, we will let your Housing Benefit team know. However, we would encourage residents to also inform Housing Benefit of their rent change.
If housing benefit is paid to you, you need to contact the Housing Benefits team at your local council to let them know your rent has changed. Please do this as soon as you can.
The Housing Benefits team will probably ask you to notify them of a ‘change of circumstance’ and provide a copy of your rent notification letter confirming your rent from April 2023. Councils receive high volumes of calls so please give your council as much notice as you can.
Call 0117 922 2300, Mon to Fri 8.30am – 6.00pm. Closed Wed 12.00-1.30pm.
Currently quoting 14 days for a response to a change of circumstance notification.
Call 01454 868002
The council has public offices at Kingswood, Yate and Patchway where you can hand in forms or speak to someone if you need help.
Call 0345 3022316
Bath & North East Somerset
BANES usually want residents to manage their housing benefits online. If you cannot do that, you can call 01225 477777.
How do I change my standing order?
We can’t change your standing order so you need to make sure your bank has instructions to pay the new rent and service charge. You can do this by contacting your bank online, by phone or visiting a branch.
Please do this at least 10 days before your first payment in April is due.
If you don’t know how much to amend your standing order by, please ring us on 0117 942 4600. We will give you the details so you can contact your bank to make the change to your standing order.
If you change your rent payment to pay by direct debit instead, we can do this automatically for you in future.
Please note that the former Solon Bank Account with HSBC has now been closed and you are no longer able to make payments into that account. Please contact us to set up a direct debit or get details of our new bank account.
I pay weekly rent on a monthly basis, how much do I need to pay going forward?
2023-24 is 366 days which equates to 52.29 weeks, so to calculate your new monthly amount:
£ weekly figure x 52.29 (weeks) = your yearly total.
Yearly total divided by 12 (months) = your monthly total.
If in doubt please contact us on 0117 042 4600 and ask to speak to an Income Officer who will be able to recalculate your monthly payments for you.
I have a payment plan / court order in place to repay a debt, will this change?
You may need to review your payment plan, to make sure it is still affordable for you. If you have any concerns about either your agreement to pay with us or your court order please contact your Income Officer for advice.
I get some benefits towards my rent so how much do I need to pay?
If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to Brighter Places we will update the Housing Benefit team at your local council. However please check to ensure your entitlement has been updated.
If your Housing Benefit is paid to you directly you need to contact the Housing Benefits team at your local council to let them know about the change to your rent and complete a “change of circumstances” form.
When your new benefit amount has been calculated, please contact us to tell us your new Housing Benefit entitlement so we can correctly advise you on the payments you need to make.
I don’t understand the letter. Can I speak to someone or have it another format?
Please call us on 0117 942 4600 and ask to speak to an Income Officer so they can help you.
If you need the letter in Easy Read or translated into another language please contact us and we will arrange that for you.
I haven’t received a letter about the changes to my rent from April 2023 onwards.
Letters will be delivered to residents from 24 February 2023. If you have not received a letter by Monday 6 March please contact us to request a duplicate letter.
Rackfield House residents and some residents in our new developments will not have a rent change so will not receive a letter.
I moved in after the rent change letter was sent to residents, but before April 2023. Is the rent/service charge I pay changing? How do I get a letter?
No, your tenancy agreement will set out the rent and service charges for your new home and when you are liable to pay them.
If you have any queries, please contact your Income Officer.
Is there anywhere I can get financial help and support?
Most benefits and the state pension will increase by 10.1% from 1 April however we appreciate many residents will be concerned about affording rent payments from April 2023 alongside other day to day living costs during the cost of living crisis.
To help you manage, a leaflet is enclosed with your ‘notice of rent change – 2023-2024‘ letter. The leaflet includes information on support and advice to help you with budgeting, benefits, managing debt, employment and keeping track of your energy costs.
You can also get free, confidential advice on how to manage debt from:
- National Debtline - call 0808 808 4000 or visit nationaldebtline.org
- Debt Free Advice – www.debtfreeadvice.com
- Step Change - call 0800 138 111 or visit stepchange.org
- Money Helper – adviser.moneyhelperorg.uk/en
- Citizens Advice - call 0800 144 8848 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- Talking money – talkingmoney.org.uk
- And you can check your entitlement to benefits at:
- Turn2us – visit turn2us.org.uk
- Entitledto – visit entitledto.co.uk
If you want to talk to someone about your future rent payments please call 0117 942 4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with an Income Officer.
Our Tenant Support Team can provide support and advice tailored to your individual needs. Please contact the team on email@example.com or call 0117 942 4600 (Ask for option 4) Or find more details on our website
Our Tenant Support Fund is available to any resident who experiencing financial hardship. We can provide a one-off payment of supermarket or energy vouchers for up to £250 for a family or £200 for an individual. Please talk to your Housing Officer about making an application.