Rent & Other Charges
Find out how your rent is set, what other costs you need to pay, and what happens if you can't or don't pay your rent.
How is my rent set and who sets it?
Rents were originally set using a Government formula which was intended to make sure that the rents of all social landlords in a region were broadly the same. In his 2015 Summer Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that rents for council and housing association tenants would be reduced by one per cent per year, for four years from April 2016.
You will always get a written notice from Luminus if your rent is going to change.
If a rent increase is made and you are not happy with it, you have the right to refer the matter to the First-Tier Tribunal of the Property Chamber (Residential Property) – unless you are in your first year of tenancy when that right does not apply. The Tribunal is made up of two to three people appointed by the Government, which can decide on the market rent (or “going rate”) for Assured and Assured Shorthold tenants. Application forms are available from the Ministry of Justice website, Residential Property Unit offices, or from legal stationers and advice centres. You can also get more information about how the Tribunal is set up from a local advice centre such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Contact details for the Tribunal that would consider your rent is:
Residential Property Unit, Unit 4C Quern House, Mill court, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 5LD
Tel: 0845 100 2616 or (01223) 841524
Fax: (01223) 843224
Unless you have a water meter fitted, we also collect your water charge with your rent. If there are only one or two people in your household, you could save money by switching to a water meter. To find out, contact your water company. You have a right to have a water meter fitted. If you want a water meter installed you should contact the water company and they will tell you if it is possible to fit one. Once the meter is in place you should write to us and let us know within five working days. We will then check with the water company and remove the water charge from your rent.
What are service charges?
Some tenants pay service charges to cover the costs of services they receive in connection with their home. These are collected with the rent. The charges you pay will be included on your tenancy agreement schedule, unless we have introduced these charges after your tenancy started. We may introduce new services, following consultation, if this will improve the management of the block of flats or area in which you live. Service charges are for items such as:
- Cleaning of communal areas
- Grounds maintenance
- Lighting in communal areas
- Lift maintenance
- Door entry maintenance
- Communal TV aerial
- Neighbourhood Wardens
- Fire Risk Assessors.
This list is not exhaustive and other services may be charged for, depending on the particular circumstances.
What about Council Tax?
Council Tax must be paid by you to your local council. It is not included in your rent. You must tell the council when you move into your home. You have a right to pay Council Tax by either 10 or 12 monthly instalments, which you can arrange with your council.
Can I get help to pay my rent?
It is your responsibility to pay your rent. However, if you live on a low income you may be entitled to receive Housing Benefit or, if you get Universal Credit, a “housing costs” element of your Universal Credit payment.
Housing Benefit is paid by the council towards some or all of your rent. If you are entitled to Housing Benefit you can choose to have it paid to you or directly to us – though it is usually better to have it paid to us. If you have rent arrears we can ask the council to pay it directly to Luminus. If you have it paid directly to you, you are responsible for paying us the full rent.
When you apply for Housing Benefit you must provide all the information requested. If you do not, your claim cannot be properly calculated, and will not be paid. If you need help with your claim contact us on 0345 266 9760.
It is your responsibility to pursue your claim with the council. You are responsible for the rent, even if it is covered in full or in part by Housing Benefit. If you think you may qualify for Housing Benefit, make a claim straight away. Delay can mean that you lose out on any entitlement. Any claim for Housing Benefit will also be treated as a claim for Council Tax benefit.
If your circumstances change you must make sure you tell the council’s Housing Benefit section within a few days, and the Department for Work and Pensions. They will claim back from you any payments made to which you were not entitled.
Housing Costs element of Universal Credit
This is paid with your monthly Universal Credit payment. You are responsible for payment of all the rent from the Housing Costs allowance and/or other income. If you do not pay your rent when due, we will take further action. Please read our Welfare Reform leaflet for more information found on our website at www.luminus.org.uk/publications.
Are all my rent charges covered by Housing Benefit/Housing Costs element of Universal Credit?
The utility charge element of your rent (e.g. water, electricity) is NOT covered. So even if your rent is covered, you must pay any utility charges yourself.
I am having difficulties paying my rent, what should I do?
You must contact us as soon as you can. We will discuss this matter with you, and will be able to advise on the best methods of clearing your debt. Remember - your debt can start off small when the occasional payment is missed but can build up quickly. If your account remains in arrears, or if you are a persistent late payer, we will take action to recover the rent you owe us. Ask for help before your debt gets too large.
What happens if I do not pay my rent?
If you do not make arrangements to clear your debt or it continues to increase, we will serve you with a Notice of Seeking Possession. This is a legal notice that tells you that we will apply to the County court for possession of your home. We cannot apply to the court until four weeks after the notice is served. This gives you the opportunity to clear your debt or to make an arrangement with us to pay the debt by instalments.
If you make an arrangement you must keep to it. If you do not we will apply to the County court for possession. If the court makes an order it can either:
- Grant an outright possession order, which ends the tenancy on a specified date. You must leave the property by that date. We will use County court bailiffs to repossess your home.
- Grant a suspended possession order, which will not be enforced providing that you stick to the terms of the order. This is usually that you pay your current rent plus a regular amount off the arrears.
We will also ask the court to make an order for the legal costs we incur in issuing proceedings. These are currently £250 but are expected to rise steeply in the near future. These costs will be added to your debt.
There are further legal costs when we apply for an eviction warrant, which are also recoverable from you.
Will I be evicted if I break a court order?
We only take eviction action as a last resort when all other attempts to recover the debt have failed. We will seek to recover the eviction warrant application fee from you. You will be told by the court and by us when the eviction will happen. You can apply to the court for a hearing to prevent the eviction taking place. The court will hear your case and decide whether it is reasonable to stop the eviction. You will normally have to pay an additional court fee before the hearing takes place.
If I am evicted will I still have a debt?
Yes. We always pursue former tenants who owe us money. If you do not respond to our requests for payment we will instruct a Debt Collection Agency (Pride Debt Recovery) who will trace you and enforce payment by all legal methods including the use of various court orders, and bailiffs/High Court Enforcement Officers who can remove your goods to recover the debt.