Rent and service charges

Rent and service charges explained

All you need to know about the rent and service charges you pay when you live in one of our homes.

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When you live in one of our affordable or social rent homes, you'll pay us rent to live there as well as a service charge for us to look after the communal areas around your home.

What is rent?

Rent is the money you pay to live in one of our properties. 

How is rent set and reviewed?

Most of our tenants pay what’s called a social rent or an affordable rent, which is usually set by us once a year. It should be lower than what you would pay a private landlord for the same kind of property. 

For most properties, the Government’s Rent Standard sets limits on how much we can increase the rent by each year. If your property is not covered by the Rent Standard, your tenancy agreement will specify the details.

Your tenancy agreement sets out when you need to pay your rent and service charges and how much notice we need to give you before we can increase them. When we review your rent and service charges, we’ll always write to you before we make any changes.

Who pays my utility bills and council tax?

You’re responsible for setting up accounts and paying for the gas, electricity and water supplies to your home, as well as your council tax.

A few of our properties have a shared heating and hot water system that supplies individual homes and communal areas. If that’s the case, we’ll collect the payment through your service charges.

When you move into one of our homes, you should let your local council know your new address. If you’re on a low income, unemployed or live alone, you may be able to get a discount on your council tax.

What is a service charge?

If you live in a flat or house that has shared areas or facilities, you’ll pay a service charge towards the cost of maintaining and repairing those areas. 

Leaseholders and shared owners can find more information about ground rent and service charges in our Homeowners section.

What’s covered by my service charge? 

Here are some examples of what your service charge may cover:

  • administration and management charges
  • cleaning of shared areas, such as stairs and hallways
  • gardening and grounds maintenance, such as paths and car parks
  • gas, water and electricity supplies to communal areas
  • maintaining door entry systems and lifts
  • maintaining fire equipment and fire safety checks
  • communal repairs and maintenance

As well as what’s listed here, we may provide you with other services and carry out other work that affects your property or communal areas. You can find full details of what your service charge covers in your tenancy agreement.

How are service charges calculated? 

Depending on your tenancy agreement, you’ll either pay a fixed or variable service charge. We’ll always let you know at least a month before any changes to your service charge. 

A fixed service charge is when we set your service charge at the start of the year, based on our estimates and any known costs. The amount you pay doesn’t change, regardless of how much we spend. If it costs us more than we expected to maintain your home and neighbourhood, we’ll cover the additional costs. If we spend less than planned, you won’t receive a refund. 

With variable service charges, we estimate the charges you will need to pay from April each year and write to tell you what your new payments will be.

At the end of each financial year, we review our accounts to calculate the difference between what we estimated and what we spent. In September, we’ll send you a statement of account, called a service charge certificate, which explains exactly what we spent. 

If we spent less than planned, we’ll give you a credit towards your next service charge bill to reduce what you’ll pay the following year. If we spent more, we’ll add that to your next year’s charge.