The payment you make to Orwell each month or week includes rent and sometimes also a service charge. The way your charges are set takes account of Orwell’s costs and of the requirements of our regulators.
The way they are changed each year will depend on the type of tenancy you have.
The majority of charges are due on the 1st of each month. However, some agreements have weekly charges. Your agreement shows you the charges you have to pay at the start of your tenancy, and how these may be changed.
Different charges and how they are set
What are the different charges and how are they set?
The way in which the rent is determined for your home will depend on a number of factors;
- The type of occupancy agreement you have.
- When the property was acquired or built.
- The housing regulator’s guidance on how rents are set.
- Statutory requirements.
- The cost of building properties, loans, mortgages and grant repayment.
- The costs of maintenance, repair, external decoration, refurbishment and improvements.
- Our management costs, for example letting properties or dealing with accounts.
These are for additional items not included in rent. They directly reflect our costs providing them to your home, and we try to keep them as reasonable as possible. We will consult you about proposed major changes to the services provided, or when a new service is proposed. Service charges may cover for example:
- Estate staff.
- Communal gardening, cleaning and window cleaning.
- Heating and lighting of communal areas.
- Servicing and replacement of communal equipment - e.g. lifts, door entry systems, fire alarms etc.
- Administration regarding all the above.
- In some sheltered, very sheltered, and supported housing:
- Recouperation on the provision of furniture and white goods.
- Heating, hot water, electricity, water, sewerage to your home. This is not eligible for Housing Benefit – see below.
- Council Tax.
Not all services are eligible for Housing Benefits.
Support / Well-being Charges Charges
These cover additional “Housing Related Support” to help a tenant maintain their tenancy and benefit from their home, usually in sheltered, extra care or supported housing. They can cover for example:
- Help with sorting out your new home if you need to move home.
- Help and advice about claiming benefits.
- Understanding official letters and forms.
- Support in dealing with paying the bills and other arrears.
- Helping you communicate with other services.
- Support to sort things out so they don’t get worse and you do not lose your home.
Subsidy may be provided to cover the cost of support/wellbeing depending on income.
Support/well-being is not covered by Housing Benefit.
How your charges are changed
Full Assured and Assured periodic rent increase;
- Normally take effect on 1st January each year.
- Must not occur more than once each year.
- There is a clause in the tenancy agreement permitting a rent review within the first year.
- Depending on the agreement and when it commenced, give one month’s notice in writing or on a ‘Statutory Form’
- Allow a 'Right to Appeal' against an increase (except during the first year) to a First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber residential Property.
- Assured Shorthold tenants also have a right to appeal against the initial rent during the first six months of the tenancy but not annual reviews.
You are a secure tenant if:
- You were first granted a tenancy by Orwell for self contained property before 15 January 1989.
- You have kept that tenancy or moved directly to another Orwell property since that date.
- You inherited, exchanged or assigned into your home where the previous tenant had been a secure tenant.
Rents and service charges for Secure tenants:
- Are set every two years by the Independent Rent Service.
- Are referred to as ‘registered’ or ‘Fair’ rents.
- May occur at any time of the year.
- Take account of Orwell’s application to the Rent service for the same rent set by Orwell for assured rents.
- Take no account of your personal or financial circumstances and the value of any improvements to your home that you have made yourself.
- You can ask for a consultation with the Rent Officer before a decision is made on the rent.
- You can appeal if you don’t agree with the rent.
- If the Rent Officer decision differs from Orwell’s application, we will charge whichever is lower.
- Orwell will give you one month’s notice of the increase, the amount and the start date.
Appealing against your rent to an independent body
Both Secure and Assured tenants have a right to appeal against Orwell’s rent and service charge increases.
- This does not apply to assured rent increases during the first year, but shorthold tenants can apply during the first 6 months against the initial rent set.
- Orwell will send you guidance and an appeal form if you are able to appeal.
- Further information can be found at www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/residential-property or contact:
First Tier Property Tribunal
Unit 4c Quern House
Telephone: 0845 1002616 or 01223 841524
- Check for further information at www.rpts.gov.uk