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Rent and service charges: Scotland

Annual Charge Review

Information and Frequently Asked Questions

We would like to help you understand the changes to your charges and help you be ready for these changes. We know you may have questions and have included below some of the questions that are asked most frequently by our customers.   

If you have a question that is not listed below, or you would like to discuss a question further please contact us:

How are my charges calculated?

The amount you pay will depend on the type of agreement you have. If you are unsure, your tenancy or lease agreement will tell you, or you can ask us.

 

Scottish Secure Tenancies (SST), Short SSTs and Occupancy Agreements

Our rent policy allows for a maximum increase of September’s RPI plus 1%. The RPI is the Retail Price Index. This represents the increase in the cost of goods and services in the previous 12 months and is published each month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Further information on rent setting, can be found in our Rent and Service Charge Policy, which is available on request.

 

Shared Ownership

Occupancy Charges for Shared Ownership are calculated using the rent policy noted above but are subject to deductions for maintenance and insurance and part of the management cost. The charge is then applied for the % of the property owned, either 25%, 50% or 75%. A breakdown of the calculation is included with the annual increase letter.

How can I manage my account online? 

Please visit https://placesforpeople.co.uk/sign-up where you can register to manage your account online.  Our online account makes it even easier to manage your home with us. It's free, easy to register and you get all of these great benefits:  

  • Manage your money: check your account, history and payments
  • Access anytime: 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Safe and secure: we use the latest security software and password protection 
  • No more paper: reduce post, cut down filing and help the environment 
  • Keep up to date: change personal details like telephone numbers and email. 
Why are you reviewing rents?

Rent is our main source of income and helps to pay for maintenance, repairs, and housing management, as well as supporting us to continue investing in communities. Income from rents helps us to keep essential services running throughout the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to meet the demand for repairs.  Our priority is to keep our customers and colleagues safe. We continue to carry out all essential gas and electric works, as well as other essential safety checks. Cleaning and grounds maintenance services have continued in our communities and we have completed repairs in empty properties so we can let them to customers in need of housing. We also need to meet the additional costs of ensuring we can keep our colleagues and customers safe whilst working in homes. We are continuing to deliver our planned improvement works in homes and investing in both our existing homes and building new homes to meet the increasing need for affordable housing.

What if I can’t afford to pay the new amount?

We want to support customers who may need help as a result of the changes to charges. If you would like to talk to us about the support available, please contact our customer service team as soon as possible. 

If you do not receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit at the moment, you should check whether you are now entitled to it following the change to your charges. 

Why do I have a different charge to my friend/neighbour?

Your charge will depend on the type of property and tenancy you have.  We have different property and tenancy types within the same areas. This may result in differences in rent charges where the properties and tenancy types are not the same. Your rent will be legally compliant with the terms on which the property was let to you, but if you think something is wrong please contact us.

What do I need to do to change my payment amount?

Universal Credit (UC)

If you claim Universal Credit, you will need to report this change using your online account or by using the Universal Credit helpline 0800 328 5644, quoting your new rent and service charge amounts.   

Reporting the change needs to be done as soon as possible after the new charge starts. 

After you have reported the change we are asked if this is the correct current charge.   

  • If you report it too early your current charge will be your old amount and mean the update is rejected and you will need to report it again once the new charge starts.
  • If you report it too late, after a month from when the charges start, Universal Credit will not backdate the change, and you will miss out on your entitlement and mean you will have to pay the difference.

 

Housing Benefit (HB)

If you currently receive HB and this is paid directly to us, we will notify your local Housing Benefit office of the changes. If you receive the payment, you must provide a copy of your increase letter to your local Housing Benefit office as quickly as possible.

If you are in the process of claiming Housing Benefit, it is very important you contact your local HB office immediately to ensure your payments reflect the new charges.

Some Housing Benefit offices may accept an email or posted copy of your increase letter, please check with them first.

If you do not currently receive Housing Benefit, you should check whether you are now entitled to it following the change to your charges. We can help with this, or you can contact your local Housing Benefit office, or an advice agency such as Citizens Advice Bureau.

 

Direct Debit (DD)

If you pay by Direct Debit you do not need to do anything.  We will amend your payment automatically. We will send you a separate letter confirming your Direct Debit instalment amounts around mid-March 2022.

If you would like to start making payments by Direct Debit, please call us on 0131 657 0600.  We can usually set up a Direct Debit over the phone

 

Standing Order (SO)

We cannot change your standing order for you.  You need to contact your bank direct.  You may be able to do this: 

  • Online - if you have created an online account with your bank 
  • By phone – if you have set up telephone banking 
  • In branch – check current opening hours 

If you have a repayment agreement in place, you will need to add this amount onto the new charge. 

What are service charges?

Service charges are for services provided to you that are not covered by the rent charge. These include charges for care and support provided by other agencies as part of your agreement, personal heating where your development has a communal heating boiler and an administration charge for managing these.

Are service charges paid for by Housing Benefit?

Service charges may be included as part of your housing benefit eligible rent.  If you receive housing benefit, the service charges will be assessed in line with housing benefit regulations and any eligible charges will be paid for by housing benefit.   

We will let you know if your services can be paid by Housing Benefit in the breakdown included with your increase letter. Services noted as “HBE” (Housing Benefit Eligible) can be paid, and those noted as “HBI” (Housing Benefit Ineligible) cannot. This is decided by Housing Benefit Regulations.

Are service charges paid for by Universal Credit?

The Universal Credit Housing Costs element may include an amount towards service charges.  These service charges must be a condition of your rent or leasehold agreement.  If you have a query with any of your service charges eligibility you should contact the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) in the first instance.

How are my personal or communal utility charges calculated?

These charges are based on the usage taken from meter readings and allow for inflation and contract prices set by the utility companies.

What is the administration charge for?

This is to cover management costs such as staff time, systems and offices in order to deliver the services provided.  This is calculated at 15% of the total service charge, or 7.5% of other agencies’ support costs.

I can’t find an answer to my question 

These are the questions asked most often by our customers.  If these do not answer your question, please contact us using any of the methods at the top of the list.

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