Useful information about your rent and service charges

Here's some useful information about your rent and service charges 2021 - 2022

Your rent and service charges for April 2021 to March 2022

Whether you live in one of our social or affordable homes, you’re a shared owner, leaseholder or freeholder – every year we review the rent and the service charges you pay.

We notify you in advance by letter of any changes that will affect you by the end of February, with the changes made for the start of what is our financial year in April.

Your rent 2021-2022

The rent for our customers living in our social tenancy homes is increasing by up to 1.5%.  This is in line with government legislation which states the rent can be raised by up to CPI (Consumer Price Index) + 1%. 

We know that coronavirus has had an impact on many families and communities, and we recognise this may be a difficult time for you. The increase in rent will allow us to continue to invest in a full range of services to support you, as well as invest in your home and continue to develop more affordable homes. 

If you’re worried about paying your rent, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have a number of ways we can help and support you. 

If you’re a shared owner, your rent in 2021-2022 will be increasing in line with the terms of your lease. 

Your service charges 2021-2022

Leaseholders and freeholders don’t pay rent, but pay variable service charges

Any changes to service charges are based on the estimated costs of providing the services you receive for the year ahead, depending on where you live.

You will be notified of your estimated charges by the end of February each year.

In September each year, leaseholders, freeholders and shared owners are sent confirmation to advise what has been spent in the previous financial year. The letter will confirm if a credit or a debit balance has been applied your account.

In most cases, social tenants are subject to ‘fixed’ service charges and these will only be reviewed once a year in April.  If you pay fixed service charges, you will not be expected to make up any shortfall or receive any refunds relating to the previous year’s actual costs.

Need to know more?

This page contains answers to the questions we’re often asked each year about rent and service charges. And you’ll also find a helpful guide to what your service charges can cover.

And we’ve added some links to information if you have any other questions or concerns about how to pay or when you think you might struggle to may us on time. If you’ve any other questions or are concerned about paying your rent or service changes please email customer@vividhomes.co.uk. or call us on 0800 652 0898.

When will I be getting my rent/service charges letter this year?

If you only pay rent, we’re intending to post your letter on Wednesday 17 February 2021. This includes if you license a garage, regardless of whether you rent a home from us.

In you pay both rent and service charges, we intend to post your letter between Monday 22 February or Wednesday 24 February 2021.

 

What will I need to do when I get my letter?

Please read your letter carefully. It contains information you’ll need to be aware of, including details about paying your rent or service charges.

If you don’t understand any part of the letter or have any questions you think aren’t answered in the letter, check to see if there’s an answer below. If there isn’t an answer, then you should email customer@vividhomes.co.uk with your question - it’ll be answered by the end of our next working day. You can also call us on 0800 652 0898. If you do prefer to talk, please be aware our lines can get very busy – we always aim to answer calls as quickly as we can, but we do need to prioritise customer emergencies.

 

I haven’t had a letter yet, what do I do?

We’re sending the letters out in batches by second class post. You should get your letter by the end of February. If you haven’t had a letter by 1 March, then get in touch with us. If you’ve changed your postal address, it’s important you let us know so we can update your records and can keep in touch with you.

 

It looks like my rent is going up. When will the increase start?

If your rent is charged weekly the increase starts from Monday 5 April 2021. If it’s charged monthly, then your rent goes up from  1 April 2021. Your letter will explain what is happening and when in more detail.

 

Why is my rent going up?

If you’re living in one of our social or affordable rent homes, your rent is going up by up to 1.5% from April 2021. This is in line with government legislation which states the rent can be raised by CPI (Consumer Price Index) + 1%

The increase in rent will allow us to continue to invest in a full range of services to support you, as well as invest in your home and continue to develop more affordable homes.

 

I claim housing benefit. Do I need to contact the Housing Benefits office?

If your housing benefit is paid directly to us, you don’t need to do anything as we’ll do this for you. You should be receiving a letter from your Housing Benefits office confirming your entitlement from April 2021. If you haven’t received this letter by the end of March, then please give your Housing Benefit office a call.

If housing benefit is paid directly to you – then you do need to let them know of the changes to your rent and service charges as soon as possible.

 

I’m claiming Universal Credit. Do I need to tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) my rent has changed?

If you receive Universal Credit, you’ll receive a message in your journal to ‘confirm your housing costs.’ This will allow you to enter your new rent and eligible service charges. If you have a phone claim, you should ring the helpline immediately after the date your rent increase takes place  to give them details. If you need help to do this or are making a new claim for Universal Credit, please let us know as we can offer help and support.

 

I pay my rent by direct debit. Will it automatically change to reflect the increase?

If you pay by direct debit, we’ll automatically recalculate the amount you pay from April 2021 and notify you in writing separately.  Please note, the adjustment may not take effect until your May 2021 payment. The amount you may from May will be adjusted to take this delay into account.

 If you receive any Housing Benefit, the direct debit will be adjusted after your first Housing Benefit payment is received in April.

 

I pay by standing order. Will my payments automatically change?

If you pay monthly by standing order you must ask your bank to change your payment amounts from April 2021.

To calculate your monthly payments, multiply your weekly charge by the number of weeks you are charged (52 in most cases, though some customers in Aldershot pay 48 weeks) and divide by 12 months. If you’re not sure how much you should be paying please email us at customer@vividhomes.co.uk or call 0800 652 0898.

Please remember to include any arrears or arrangements you’ve agreed with us in your standing order payment.

Again, if you are unsure of your payment amount, contact email us at customer@vividhomes.co.uk or call 0800 652 0898.

 

I’m not happy with these changes or the services I get. Who can I talk to?

If you’ve any issues, concerns or complaints please email customer@vividhomes.co.uk with your concerns and it we’ll reply to you by the end of the next working day or call 0800 652 0898.

 

I’ve read your letter and I don’t think your figures make sense.

Please contact us at customer@vividhomes.co.uk or call 0800 652 0898.

 

I live in a shared ownership home so I pay you rent on the percentage of my home I don’t yet own. My rent has gone up by RPI, not 1.5% – what’s RPI and why is my rent going up in line with this?

If you live in a shared ownership home, your rent is adjusted annually as outlined in your lease. In most cases this will be based on the level the Retail Price Index (RPI) was at last year in the month identified in your lease.

You can find information about monthly levels of the RPI on the Office of National Statistics website via www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices

This is a general overview of service charges for the areas we commonly get asked questions. There maybe slight variations specific to your block and if you have any queries relating to where you live, please contact us.

Service Charge Admin

The charge is a contribution towards the costs incurred by VIVID to manage the service contracts and the associated accounting functions of service charges. It is either 10% or 15% (dependant on your lease or tenancy agreement) of your total service charges, excluding buildings insurance, sinking funds, personal utilities, and management charges.

Building Insurance

VIVID will insure all properties that we own, or part own. So, this covers our all our rented properties, anyone within a shared ownership property and Leaseholders who own 100% of their property within a block of flats that we are the Freeholder for. In some instances, we will still insure your house even if you have staircased to 100% owner and we would advise you to check your transfer document to ascertain if that is required. We operate a “block” insurance policy for all our leasehold properties. The cost you pay for insurance within your service charge reflects your share of the building insurance premium. This premium is based on the estimated cost should we need to rebuild your home. Here is a link for information around insurance on our website https://www.vividhomes.co.uk/my-home/manage/insurance

Caretaking

The cost of a caretaking service is calculated using an individual’s salary and the amount of time they are allotted for a specific block, scheme, or estate.

CCTV

This cost covers the servicing and maintenance of any CCTV system in operation in your block/scheme/estate. All other CCTV related charges will be charged through the repairs service charge, this could be general repairs, or CCTV downloads. It maybe that the costs associated with CCTV downloads are passed on to individual perpetrators if identified.

Cleaning

We visit each block to measure and cost, the communal features that exist on site, in our hallways, stairwells and bin areas. Generally, we use square metres, linear metres and number or quantity. We include entrance, entrance mat, entrance door, floor area and type, internal doors, handrails, balustrades, windowsills, light fittings, and lifts.

We use the National Housing Federation (NHF) methodology to calculate service charges. There is a Schedule of Rate (SOR), for each cleaning task we carry out. Each SOR has a value (£), a Unit of Measurement (UoM) and a Frequency of Visit (weekly or 3-weekly). We then multiply SOR x UoM x Frequency, to calculate the total cost for each block, based on all the features that need cleaning. The total cost is then apportioned (split) between all owners within a block.

We do have some external contractors managing our blocks/schemes and the costs, VAT and 8.5% uplift to cover VIVIDs overheads for managing the contractors are passed on through the service charges. Find out what you can expect from this service https://www.vividhomes.co.uk/my-home/looking-after/caretaking

Door Entry

This cost covers the maintenance of door entry phone/call systems and, where appropriate, any automatic door opening systems. Any repairs required from these checks will then be charged through the repairs service charges

Communal Electric

This relates to the electricity supplied to communal areas of blocks and schemes (may also include external usage such as carpark lights) and is apportioned between the applicable number of units that benefit.  The charge is calculated based on all bills received in the period being accounted, regardless of the period of the actual bill. The bills can be based on estimates or actual meter readings. In some instances when actual meter readings are supplied this can cause an increase in the expenditure for the year.

Fire and Security

This cost covers the service and maintenance of fire and smoke detection equipment in a block.  The equipment may include automatic opening vents for smoke clearance, fire alarms, communal smoke detectors, emergency lighting and fire extinguishers. Any repairs required from these checks will then be charged through the repairs service charges.

Grounds Maintenance

We digitally map, measure and cost the communal features that exist on site, in our schemes, blocks and streets. Generally, we use square metres, linear metres and number or quantity. We include grassed areas, shrub beds, hedges, and hard landscaping (paths, car parks & drying areas).

We use the National Housing Federation (NHF) methodology to calculate service charges. There is a Schedule of Rate (SOR), for each ground maintenance task we carry out. Each SOR has a value (£), a Unit of Measurement (UoM) and a Frequency of Visit (19 or 26). We then multiply SOR x UoM x Frequency, to calculate the total cost for each scheme, block, or street, based on all the features that need maintaining.

The total cost is then apportioned (split) between all owners within a scheme, block, and street, which includes both VIVID properties and private properties. We do have some external contractors managing our schemes/estates and the costs, VAT and 8.5% uplift to cover VIVID’s overheads for managing the contractors are passed on through the service charges. Find out what you can expect from this service https://www.vividhomes.co.uk/my-home/looking-after/groundsmaintenance

Ground Rent

Ground Rents are charged in line with the terms of your lease. The annual figure payable is applied as a service charge split monthly or quarterly depending on the charging frequency for your account, recovered over the forthcoming financial year.  Ground Rent notices are served in line with relevant legislation.

Legionella Water Testing

This is the cost incurred to carry out legionella testing on a communal water storage facility where there is only one supply to the building. A Legionella risk assessment will be carried out to determine the frequency of the tests. VIVID we use the National Housing Federation (NHF) methodology to calculate charges.  There is a Schedule of Rate (SOR) for the testing which we use to apply the charges through service charges.

Lift Maintenance

This is the cost that covers the lift maintenance, servicing contract and any call out repairs to the lift not covered by the contract.  There will also be an insurance premium that specifically covers any lifts and engineering inspection charge included in this cost. Any repairs required from these checks will then be charged through the repairs service charges

Management Fee

The general management charge is a contribution towards general housing management and advice covering the area you live that we own. For example, confirming your boundaries; anti-social behaviour; subletting; permissions and improvements guidance; resale and assignment of lease requirements; procedures and insurance advice; and insurance claims information.  It also covers the management and administration of sinking funds, legal fees, and annual audit fees. The cost is calculated based on business running costs, overheads and by type of property.

Playground

If your scheme or estate has a playground, that is available to all the residents, then the cost of the upkeep of this area is separate to the grounds maintenance charge and will be appear separately in the breakdown of service charges. The play areas are inspected by a specialist contractor to include weekly visual checks and monthly operational checks and then independent of this there is also an annual health and safety check.

Repairs

This item covers the cost of all repairs to communal parts of your block (both internal and

external) and/or estate. It covers routine, urgent and emergency repairs. In addition to this any ad hoc charge is also charged through the repairs service charge, as an example this may include specialist cleans, bulk rubbish and CCTV downloads, although this list is not exhausted.

For repairs and most ad hoc work completed by VIVID we use the National Housing Federation (NHF) methodology to calculate charges.  There is a Schedule of Rate (SOR), for each repair we carry out. The total cost is then apportioned (split) between all owners within a scheme, block, and estate, which includes both VIVID properties and private properties. For repairs completed by contractors we pass on the cost of the repair, VAT and an 8.5% uplift to cover VIVIDs overheads for managing the contractors.

Reserves / Sinking Fund

We will collect sums towards a reserve/sinking fund for all shared ownership and leasehold properties where there are common parts that require long term major repairs or replacement or cyclical maintenance, where the lease allows.  Some examples for what this would be used for are new roofs, decoration, and replacement windows. This may also apply to schemes of houses where there is a car park.  The funds will be held in a separate bank account & the interest after tax is credited directly to the respective accounts.

The amount of the charge to be collected will be based on life cycle costings for each major element of the building/area.  Each year the sinking fund will be increased by an appropriate inflationary factor.  As part of the annual review consideration should be given to the balance on the reserve/sinking regarding any works being proposed in the next financial year, to confirm that there are sufficient monies being held to pay for the works.

A full review of life cycle costings and scheme cash flow should be undertaken at regular intervals, somewhere between 5-10 years.   

Third Party Managing Agent

If there is a third-party managing agent managing a block, scheme, or estate then the costs are passed on through service charges. Every year when we complete the accounting of actual charges, we must include all invoices received in the accounting period. This can sometimes mean that there are credits or debits applied through the accounting due to the dates of the invoices, regardless of the period they cover.

Communal Water Charges

The cost of any external water supply that benefits of all residents of your block/estate, such as an outside tap for the garden, or water for the cleaning of communal areas.

Personal Water Charges

Some developments only have one water supply.  In this case, the water charges will be divided between communal use and personal use initially and then split across the number of properties that benefit from the supply.  The way this is divided may vary based on the size of the property.  This charge is not eligible for housing benefit.  

Water Pump

This charge is for the servicing and maintenance of a pump to supply water and/or remove wastewater from a scheme to the mains drainage.

Communal Window Cleaning

We sub-contract the communal window cleaning to a specialist, approved contractor, as part of a competitive tendering process. The contract we award, is based on a 3-year contract, with options to extend for a further 2 years, before we then re-tender.

They visit each block to cost the communal features that exist on site, in our hallways, stairwells and bin areas.

Generally, we use a cost per communal feature or floor. We include communal glazed entrance doors, communal glazed entrance canopies / porches, communal hallway glazing, communal stairwell glazing, communal glazed stairwell balustrades / panels, communal balcony canopies, communal glazed balcony balustrades /panels, communal conservatories, communal bike sheds, communal Automatic Opening Vents (AOV’s), communal Photo Voltaic panels (PV’s) and communal bin area glazing.

The frequency of visit is 3-monthly (quarterly) for all communal features, except balcony canopies, which are 6-monthly (twice per annum). The total cost for each block, based on all the features that need cleaning, is apportioned (split) between the total number of homes in each block.

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