Useful information about your rent and service charges

Here's some useful information about your rent and service charges 2020 - 2021

Your rent and service charges for April 2020 to March 2021

UPDATE September 2020: If you’re one of our shared ownership, leaseholder or freeholder customers, you’ll have recently received your end of year service charge statement. Read this article for answers to some of your frequently asked questions about the statement and your service charges.

 

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 2020-2021

Since 2016 we've reduced rents for customers living in our social tenancy homes by 1% a year.

For the year April 2020-March 2021 we're increasing the rent we charge our social tenants by up to 2.7%. This'll help us maintain our role as a social housing provider and meet our commitment to delivering well maintained homes and services for customers.

The increase is in line with government legislation which says social housing rent can be raised by the consumer price index plus 1%.

If you’re a shared owner, your rent in 2020-2021 will be increasing in line with the terms of your lease.

Your service charges 2020-2021

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 you’re entitled to a refund or need to top up your payment.

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 12 February 2020. 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 on Monday 17 February or Wednesday 19 February 2020.

 

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 6 April 2020. If it’s charged monthly, then your rent goes up from Sunday 1 April 2020. 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 2.7% from April 2020. This is in line with government legislation which states the rent can be raised by CPI (Consumer Price Index) + 1%

By increasing your rent we can ensure we maintain our financial stability, develop more affordable homes for those who need them, and make sure our customers can be offered valuable services such as financial and benefits help and advice.

The increase this year follows 4 years where rent payable for homes was reduced by 1% each year, so in 2020 – 2021 your rent will still be lower than you would’ve been paying if you lived in your current home 4 years ago.

 

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 2020. 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’re claiming Universal Credit then you’ll need to let the DWP know of the changes to your rent and service charges via your journal, by phone or in person at your job centre as soon as possible.

 

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 2020 and notify you in writing separately.  Please note, the adjustment may not take effect until your May 2020 payment. The amount you may from May will be adjusted to take this delay into account.

 

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 2020.

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 2.7% – 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 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 page explains the different services any service charge you pay will cover. The amounts are itemised for you when you get a copy of your charges.

 

Building Insurance

As your landlord we have an obligation to insure the building you live in.  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 the building you live in.  If you own 100% share in a house, then in most cases we’re no longer your landlord and you need to make your own arrangements to insure your property (however please check your transfer documents as this may not always be the case). If you own 100% of a flat, VIVID will still be liable to provide insurance as the Freeholder of the building.

 

Cleaning of Communal Areas*

This is the cost of cleaning the communal parts of a building and may include vacuuming, mopping and dusting of communal hallways and stairs, litter picking and sweeping of paths/car parks and bin stores.  In most instances we provide this service under a Service Level Agreement we have with you

 

CCTV Maintenance*

This cost covers the servicing and maintenance of equipment of any CCTV system in operation in your block/scheme/estate. 

 

Caretaker (Estate)*

This is the cost of any staff employed on your estate to provide services to residents.  It may include cleaning of communal areas that are available to all residents. 

 

Day to Day Repairs*

This item covers the cost of repairs to communal parts of your block (both internal and external) and/or estate.  It covers routine, urgent and emergency repairs below a legal threshold of £250 per property.

 

Door Entry System Maintenance*

This cost covers the maintenance of door entry phone/call systems and, where appropriate, any automatic door opening systems.

 

Grounds Maintenance*

This cost is when an external service isn’t connected to a particular block/scheme but benefits the wider estate we manage and that you live on.

It’s the cost of maintaining the shared communal grounds around your property and/or estate and can include gardening, grass cutting, the maintenance of trees, hedges etc. and leaf clearance.  In most instances VIVID repairs provide this service under a Service Level Agreement.

 

Electricity (Communal)

This covers the cost of electricity charges that relate to any lighting or heating in communal areas in a block.  It can also cover external lighting charges for a scheme and/or estate. 

 

External Management Company*

This is only charged where an external or third-party management company provides services for a block/scheme/estate on our behalf.  This cost relates to the amount we pay to them and collect from you. 

 

Fire Safety *

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.

 

General Management Charge

The general management charge is a contribution towards general housing management and advice covering the area you live that we own. For example, boundary disputes; 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.

 

Legionella*

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.

 

Lift Maintenance & Insurance*

This is the cost that covers the lift maintenance and 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.

 

Lift Telephone Equipment Charge

This is the cost of the rental and phone calls on the emergency phone line in the lift used for emergency breakdowns and entrapments.

 

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 and an annual health and safety check is separate to the grounds maintenance charge and will be appear separately in the breakdown of service charges.

 

Rubbish Clearance*

This cost is for any contract in place for the emptying of bins not covered by the local authority, and/or rental of any bins. It also covers any costs we’ve incurred for the removal of large items of rubbish. However, if we’re able to identify who is responsible for any large items we’ll recharge the cost to that person only. 

 

Service Charge Administration

This is a 10% or 15% administration charge (depending on your lease or tenancy agreement) that is added to any service charges costs relating to services and utilities. The administration charge does not apply to property insurance, sinking funds, or other management charges.  The charge is a contribution towards the costs incurred by VIVID to manage the service contracts and the associated accounting functions of service charges.

 

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 waste water from a scheme to the mains drainage.

 

Window Cleaning*

The cost of cleaning the windows in communal areas only on any communal buildings in a block/scheme/estate. 

* Where a maintenance/repair charge is in place, it may include, but not be limited to: labour; purchase and disposal of materials; specialised equipment; travel costs (including vehicle maintenance and fuel); and public liability and works insurance.

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