How is your rent calculated?
Each year, we’ll be making a small increase to our rent and service charges in order to provide improved services to customers within our communities. This rent increase is consistent with almost all social housing landlords across the UK, to coincide with the government’s recognition that social rents must increase to support the funding of services.
What value do you get from your rent?
What are service charges and which type of charges do you pay?
Service charges are a fixed weekly charge (paid along with your rent payments) and are for the costs of various services supplied by Aspire Housing and it's contractors in addition to the provision of your home.
A wide range of additional services are supplied by Aspire Housing, but not all may apply to you as they will vary according to the type of property that you live in.
Most of our customers contribute towards the costs of the grounds maintenance and estate caretaker's services, with the total charge for the Borough being split evenly between all customers. Our Service Charge policy declares that Aspire Housing will only recover the cost of services and does not make a profit from service charges. The additional services that you are charged for are set out on your rent letter which identifies the rent and service charges for the new rent year. The list below describes what each service charge covers and the standard of service (where applicable) that you can expect to receive.
These charges are not applied to all homes, please see your rent letter for your specific list of charges.
• Grounds maintenance: this covers a number of services to land and communal areas of Aspire Housing owned properties including grass and hedge cutting, shrub bed maintenance and tree works, plus maintaining some hard standing areas. Grass cutting is undertaken as required (subject to weather and ground conditions) between March and October. Hedge cutting is undertaken once a year, once the birds have left the nest, usually between October and February. Shrub beds will receive attendance annually and during winter, other preparation works are completed for the coming summer. This charge reflects the contracted rate charged to Aspire Housing.
• Estate caretakers: our teams provide scheduled inspections of streets and garage areas and will remove all litter immediately. They will inspect for graffiti in communal areas and will remove it within 24 hours, will remove all dangerous or hazardous materials left in Aspire Housing owned communal areas within one working day of receiving the report, will remove other rubbish and dumped items within three working days. This charge reflects the cost of providing this service.
• Estate management charges: some of the new development sites are subject to external estate management charges. These charges are paid by Aspire Housing and then recharged back to customers on the respective developments.
• Communal water: customers in community living schemes with communal rooms will also contribute towards the water costs for these areas. These charges are based on the invoices received by Aspire Housing.
• Communal gas heating: customers in community living schemes with communal rooms will also contribute towards the gas costs for these areas. These charges are based on the invoices received by Aspire Housing.
• Communal electricity: customers in flat blocks and community living schemes which have communal entrance halls, stairwells, communal rooms or communal security lighting will contribute towards the electricity costs for these areas. This charge is based on the invoices received by Aspire Housing.
• Communal cleaning: customers in flat blocks and community living schemes which have communal floors, stairs, landings or entrance doors that are cleaned. The areas will be cleaned every other week, and this charge reflects the contracted rate charged to Aspire Housing. Customers in extra care accomodation receive an enhanced service where the charge is calculated seperately to take account of this.
• Communal window cleaning: customers in flat blocks and community living schemes which have windows in communal areas are cleaned monthly. This charge reflects the contracted rate charged to Aspire Housing. Customers in extra care accommodation receive an enhanced service where the charge is calculated separately to take account of this.
• Intensive Housing management: some customers benefit from extra support provided by our Locality teams and this charge contributes towards the cost of that extra support.
• Community Living Charge: customers in community living schemes which benefit from a Community Living Advisor. This charge covers the costs of the team that deal with housing management matters regarding both the scheme and your tenancy.
• Furniture: some customers are given extra support by way of a furnished tenancy. We ensure the furniture is high quality and is to a working standard and this charge reflects the costs of providing the furniture.
• Unadopted roads: these are roads within new developments for which Aspire Housing remains responsible for the maintenance of the lighting, drainage and pavements. This charge reflects the expected maintenance costs.
• Personal heating: the apartments of customers who reside in one of the enclosed community living schemes are heated via the scheme’s gas central heating system. An estimated charge is made for the heating of each flat and is classed as ‘personal heating’ and is not covered by housing benefit or Universal Credit.
• Equipment maintenance: various equipment used throughout a Community Living Scheme requires regular maintenance to ensure it remains in good working order. Included in this are things such as entrance door maintenance, CCTV, catering and laundry equipment. These charges are based on invoices received by Aspire Housing.
• Service testing: various services provided throughout the Community Living scheme are subject to regular testing to ensure relevant health and safety standards are maintained. Included here are things such as legionella testing, fire and smoke alarms, heating and air conditioning systems, electrical testing and lift maintenance. These charges are based on the invoices received by Aspire Housing.
• Personal utility charge: some customers in Stafford contribute towards the supply of water and sewage charges to their property, this charge is not eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. These charges are based on the invoices received by Aspire Housing.
How is your rent calculated?
Shared ownership rents are set according to the terms of your shared ownership agreement. Rent is only paid on the unacquired share of your property. This year’s increase is calculated by applying the formula in your shared ownership agreement which uses national inflation figure (Retail Price Inflation).
For more information please refer to your agreement lease.
Service charges are a contribution (paid along with your rent payments where applicable) towards the costs of various services supplied in addition to provision of your home. Service charges for shared owners are estimated at the start of each financial year which runs from April to March. Within 6 months after the year end Aspire Housing will review the estimated service charge costs against the actual costs for the year.
If the actual costs exceed the estimated costs then an invoice will be sent to you for the difference, likewise if they are less you will be reimbursed or a credit applied to your account against the next year.
A wide range of additional services are supplied by Aspire Housing, but not all may apply to you as they will vary according to the type of property that you live in. Our Service Charge policy declares that Aspire Housing will only recover the cost of services and does not make a profit from service charges.
Shared ownership customers may also be responsible for repairs and maintenance carried out by Aspire Housing (or one of its contractors) to your property. All new properties have a 12 month ‘defect period’ during which some repairs may be carried out by the developer free of charge. However, once the defect period ends all repairs and maintenance becomes your responsibility.
It is important that you recognise the 12 month defect period starts from when the property is handed over to Aspire Housing by the developer and not from your date of purchase.
If you call Aspire Housing for any repairs after the defect period has ended then you will be charged and the charges will be added to any invoice raised for the end of year review of service charge costs.
In addition to the charges listed above, Shared Owners may also have the following service charges. These charges are not applied to all homes, please see the rent letter for your specific list of charges.
• Buildings insurance: as Aspire Housing remains the freeholder we are legally responsible to ensure adequate buildings insurance is provided. We will apply an equal share of the total premium to your invoice. Please note personal belongings are not covered by this insurance and you need to insure them via a home contents insurance policy of your own.
• Management costs: Aspire Housing will apply a management charge of 10% for the management of the services we provide to you if you are a Shared Owner or Leaseholder.
• Furniture reserve: included for Mill Rise customers only are additional contributions towards the reserve for the replacement of furniture in the communal areas.
Along with your service charges, some shared owners may also be required to contribute to a Sinking Fund for unadopted roads and communal parts of the property.
Setting up a Sinking Fund helps to ensure that all Shared Owners, irrespective of when they acquired ownership of the property, share the financial cost of maintaining the development, as it would be unfair to expect future purchasers to bear all of the cost of major works. The Sinking Fund avoids or offsets the need to pay large one-off sums when major works are required. By law we have to consult with you before ordering any major works unless it is an emergency.
Monies held in the Sinking Fund will be held in ‘trust’. Any interest received is added to the fund and is shown in the audited accounts. As the monies are held in trust, we are unable to use these amounts for our own purposes and the Sinking Fund on one scheme cannot be used to fund work on another.
How to seek help in making payments
If you have problems paying your rent it is important that you contact Aspire Housing’s Income Team as quickly as possible to discuss your circumstances. You may be eligible for housing or other welfare benefits. If you have a query regarding the levels of charges set or the standard of service you receive please contact us as we will try to resolve, or respond to, these issues to your satisfaction.
Please contact customer services on 01782 635200.