Rent Increase Consultation and FAQs 2024/25
Cannock Chase District Council, like most social landlords, considers what, if any, rent increases should be applied for its tenants each year. The new rent is normally applied on the first Monday in April, until the last Monday of March the following year.
For 2024/25, the Council is proposing to increase council housing rents by 7.7% from 1st April 2024. This webpage sets out frequently asked questions about the rent increase process, why the increase is proposed, paying your rent and help if you are struggling to pay, how our rents compare and how you can send in your views about the proposals.
The consultation has now closed, but if you have any questions about the proposal which are not answered here, please contact the Income Management team on 01543 462621 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- About the Rent Increase Process
Why do you increase my rent?
We increase your rent to continue to invest in improving council homes and services. Last year, the Government put in place a rent cap of 7% for 2022/23, which will end in March 2024. Taking account of the reduced inflation rate, Government guidance and the need to continue to improve our services to you, we propose putting up rents by 7.7% in 2024/25, which was the rate of inflation (6.7%) in September 2023, plus 1%.
Do you have to increase my rent?
No, we don’t have to increase your rent, we could leave it as it is. However, this would mean spending less on our housing stock. The Council has absorbed increases in its costs above the 7% increase over the last year and continues to aim to balance the cost-of-living pressures of tenants with the need to provide good quality services. Within our HRA Business Plan for 2024/25 we have budgeted for the rent increase from April 2024, which means we can deliver our promises to improve our neighbourhoods and invest in our existing Council homes, as well as building new Council housing. If we keep your rent as it is, we simply cannot deliver on these priorities and we would have to make some tough choices to invest less in existing Council homes, to build fewer new homes, or to do less in your neighbourhoods - and we don’t think this would be fair.
How much could my rent increase by and why is the increased proposed?
As explained above, the Government cap will end in March 2024, and we can therefore increase your rent by up to the rate of inflation plus 1%. An increase of 7.7% is what we are proposing for 2024/25 because of our commitment to improving homes and services, the relatively low level of Council property rent in Cannock Chase and because we have been absorbing rising costs during the year the cap has been in place. This proposal is subject to the Council’s budget setting process and approval from the Council’s Cabinet, which can, if it wishes, decide something different. We will write to you at the end of February 2024 to confirm how much your weekly rent payment will be for 2024/25 based on the agreed percentage increase.
What will you spend the additional rental income on?
We have set out in our HRA Business Plan what we want to achieve over the next 3 years. The additional money we can raise from rents means we are on track to deliver these objectives. We will keep you informed regularly on how we are performing against the HRA Business Plan in the Annual Report to Tenants and Leaseholders, and also with details about specific initiatives in our tenants newsletter.
Will I see any benefits in my home and local community?
Absolutely, the reason we are applying the rent increase is so that you will see benefits to your own home and also in your wider neighbourhood and estates over time.
Can I have a breakdown of how you will spend my rent?
We commit to providing a full breakdown of how we spend your rent over the next 12 months. We will do this in our Annual Report to Tenants and Leaseholders, which we will publish on our website and deliver to all tenants and leaseholders.
Can my rent ever go down?
The Government sets the national rent formula that Councils and other housing providers are required to follow. Last year the Government capped rent increases, but this is due to end as set out above. It is possible Government guidance could change before April 2025 or in future years. We have no control over this, but you may wish to lobby your MP (or prospective candidates for the future general election) if you have strong views about how Government guidance on social housing rents should be decided.
What is the timescale for this rent increase?
Once the Council's Cabinet has decided what the rent increase should be in February 2024, the new rent increase notice letters informing you of the rent increase will be sent out to you with a minimum of one month’s notice. We will aim to have the letters delivered by the start of March 2024.
Is my rent always charged over 52 weeks?
Usually your rent is charged over 52 weeks, but in 2024/25 it will be charged over 53 weeks. This is because every 5 to 6 years, the first Monday in April is earlier, so there is an extra week that falls in the financial year from April to March. As 1st April 2024 is a Monday, 2024/25 is one of those years. It doesn't mean you will be charged an extra weeks' rent than you would've been - it just means that the first week of 2025/26 is a little later (Monday 7th April 2025), which will take us back to a 52-week year again for the next few years.
- Rent Payments and help if you are struggling
What do I do if I can’t afford the increase?
Please let us know straight away if you are struggling - we are here to help. Our priority is to support tenants to sustain their tenancies and we want to help prevent rent arrears or other debts. We have a dedicated Tenancy Sustainment Service, and the Income Management Team works alongside the local Citizens Advice team who are trained to ensure you have maximised your benefits, help you manage your finances and support you through changes to income or circumstances. We can also link into other support services which offer advice, support and funding to help people in difficult circumstances. Please take advantage of this service now to help you prepare well ahead of the rent increase.
Will I lose my home?
Very few tenants lose their homes, and this only really happens where they don't contact or engage with us so that we can help them. The last few years have been difficult for us all and ensuring you feel secure in your home is our absolute priority. We want to reassure you that we are here to help you through the cost-of-living crisis. The Income Management Team are working hard to support Council tenants and are there for those affected by the current economic crisis. However, your rent still needs to be paid; so, if you or your family’s ability to pay rent is affected at all by the cost-of-living crisis, rising energy costs, changes to your income, work or benefits, please contact the Team urgently on 01543 462621. We will do all we can to help you find the best solution for you or your family. You may also want to take a look at our website for more advice on ‘Help with the cost of Living crisis’
I claim Universal Credit, will I have to re-apply and will this result in weeks of delays not receiving money for my rent and accumulating rent arrears?
We appreciate that completing a Universal Credit claim can be very stressful and facing weeks of delays for any benefit payment is something we want to avoid. Please be assured you will not have to complete a brand-new claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Once we write to inform you about your new rent you will simply need to inform them of this via your online UC account - you should receive an online notification shortly before 1st April. It is important that this is completed on or as soon as possible after 1st April as otherwise your payments may be affected, and you could fall into rent arrears. Completing the details should be recorded on your UC jornal automatically.
If you do not have an online UC account, you must update the DWP coach or staff member you normally contact at your job centre plus on or as soon as possible after 1st April so that your payments are re-assessed, and you do not fall into rent arrears. Ask for a receipt or confirmation that they have your new rent informaiton for your records.
We will then be asked to verify the increase on what is known as the Landlord portal. We will not be notified if you have not told the DWP, so it really is up to you to make sure they know.
What if Universal Credit doesn’t cover the rent increase?
If your Universal Credit allowance doesn’t cover the additional rent increase, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see a member of our Income Management Team or contact Citizens Advice who can help you check if DWP have included your new rent in your assessment or help you bedget for the increased amount you need to pay.
Does the 53-week year affect Universal Credit Payments towards my rent?
Universal Credit housing costs (rent) assessments are only based on a 52-week year. This is a Government decision which means that one week of your rent will not be accounted for in the calculation about the amount you are entitled to. Case law on Universal Credit says that it is only meant to contribute towards your housing costs and so you will need to make sure that you do not fall into arrears as a result of the additional week not being accounted for. It is best to have a conversation with our Income Management Team about your circumstances to work out how best to manage this and to seek any support or advice you may need. You can contact the Income Management Team on 01543 462621 or email@example.com.
What if I am receiving Housing Benefit?
If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit, you will automatically be notified of your revised entitlement. You should check your revised benefit notice once you receive it to make sure the whole rent increase is being paid. If the whole rent is not being paid by Housing Benefit you should check whether you are required to pay anything more towards the increased rent, especially if any non-benefit income (such as salary or private pension) is part of your housing benefit assessment.
What about if I paying monthly?
For people who pay monthly, the 53-week year does mean a slight difference. Monthly payers need to multiply their weekly rent by 53 weeks before dividing that amount by 12. We will work this out for people paying by direct debit, but those paying by standing order will need to change their payments with their banks, once they have been told what the new rent is.
Do I have to adjust my Direct Debit mandate with my bank, or will you do this for me?
You don’t need to worry; your Direct Debit will be adjusted automatically by our Income Management Team – you don’t have to do anything. When we write to you at the end of February notifying you of your rent increase, we will tell you this. Please note that this will reflect the 53-week year as detailed above, so this will be factored into the amount of your direct debit as well as the rent increase. Monthly payments must be made in advance.
I don’t pay by Direct Debit, do I have to adjust my standing order with my bank?
Direct Debit is much easier, as you don't need to worry about working out payments, we can do that for you. However, if you wish to continue paying by monthly standing order or other means you will need to work out your new rent payments to change your standing order or your regular payments.
For example, how to work out monthly rent - Weekly rent of £90.00 x 53 weeks = yearly rent of £4,770, divide by 12 for the monthly rent = £397.50. This must be paid in advance. We strongly recommend that you contact our Income Management Team to consider switching to direct debit and who can help work out how much you should be paying and when.
Can I have a Rent Statement?
You can get a rent statement at any time - and as often as you want - by registering on the Council’s website at ‘Housing Online’. You can see the balance on each of your accounts, along with the current charge details. If you wish to see a full statement, click on the link against the account and it will show you all your transactions. If you do not have a computer, tablet, smart phone, or electronic device you can contact the Income Management Team on 01543 462621 and they will send you a rent statement.
- How do Cannock Chase Council rents compare?
Compared to the average weekly rents for all other Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) who have properties in the Cannock Chase area, our rents remain much lower. Our average weekly rent for 2022-23 across all properties, irrespective of the number of bedrooms, was £77.78 for social rent and £91.47 for an affordable rent - in 2023/24 this increased by 7% to £83.22 and £97.87 respectively.
The most recent benchmarking information we have on rents is shown in the below table of rent charges for 2022/23.
SR - Social Rent
AR - Affordable Rent
- How do I tell you my views about the rent increase proposal?
The consultation period closed on Thursday 25th January 2024.