Frequently Asked Questions

My weekly rent charge has gone up more than usual why is that?

The rent you pay goes directly back into repairing and maintaining homes to ensure they are safe and of good quality, funding vital services and support for tenants, and improving the energy efficiency of homes to reduce fuel bills and work towards zero-carbon targets.

The 2023/24 rent increase has been calculated in line with government policy, following an inflation linked Government formula that makes sure rent levels are capped and remain at an affordable level. We always try to keep rents as affordable as possible, but we need to balance this with the rising costs of repairing and maintaining homes and other essential goods and services.

Like all social housing providers, we follow the Government’s guidelines on rent setting. We work it out by taking the previous September’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate, which was 10.1% this year and add 1% to it. Because the CPI was very high last September, the Government agreed to protect Social Housing tenants and cap Social Housing rent increases at 7% instead. This means we’ll be increasing your rent by 7% from April 2023.

Stockport Council rents remain one of the lowest in Greater Manchester (GM).  Out of a sample of 109 housing providers across different GM Boroughs, Stockport Council had the 8th lowest rents.

I live in a property with a heating service charge why has my heating charge increased so much?

Customers living in properties with a heating service charge have so far been protected from energy price rises related to heating costs. However, because of extreme and unprecedented increases to energy costs nationally, the cost of energy has increased significantly since your charge was last set. Your charge for 2023/24 has been increased to reflect the increased costs for heating your property. We procure our energy supplier through a broker to ensure we always get the best deal possible for our tenants and keep any increase as low as possible.

 

Update 22/03/2023

Deal secured to minimise energy service charge increases for over 5,000 properties

We know that every penny counts and our team have been working to secure a better energy deal for customers with charges for individual property heating, communal heating, communal electricity and communal laundry services.

Charges for these services displayed in your annual rent and service charge notification letters (dated 24th February 2023) were set based on forecast increases.

As a result of the new energy deal secured, we are now able to reduce some of the increases to these charges for 2023/24.

These revised charges have been updated on customer accounts and new letters will be sent to all affected households advising of new charges from 3rd April. Letters should be received during week commencing 27th March 2023.

Housing Benefit claims for customers receiving support towards affected services will be automatically amended. Customers with Universal Credit claims should use the new revised charges when updating their online claim after 3rd April.

If you would like more information on how your charges have been affected please contact the Customer Finance Team on 0161 217 6016 (option 3).

I am going to struggle to pay the new rent and service charges what are my options?

We won’t be able to change what you need to pay for your rent and service charges. However, we understand times are tough and we’re doing everything we can to support our customers during this period:

To support households with continuing high energy and living costs, the Government confirmed that further Cost of Living payments of £900 will be paid to households receiving means tested benefits during 2023/24, with additional payments of £300 for pensioners and an additional £150 to claimants receiving disability benefits.

In addition to this we have put in place a range of additional support measures, such as hardship funds, alongside our well-established money advice services.

Our dedicated, expert Money Advice team can support you if you’re having difficulties. They will complete a full financial assessment and provide advice and support for income maximisation, reducing outgoings where possible and can support with a hardship fund payment where appropriate. You can contact them Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm on 0161 217 6016, option 3, or email them at [email protected].

Why is my rent account in arrears when I pay by Direct Debit?

If you pay by Direct Debit in most cases the payments will have been calculated so that when your last payment is made in March 2023 you will not have any rent arrears. It’s possible that your account may go into arrears during the year dependent on when your payments are due.

Why is my rent account in arrears when I am up to date with my payments?

Any letters received show the balance on your account at the date of printing, so if you have made any payments since this date these will not be reflective. Depending on how you pay will also affect when the payment is showing on your account.  Payments made at a Post Office or Pay Point outlet take 3 working days to reach your account, and all other methods should be showing the next working day.

My rent account is in credit. Can I request a refund?

It depends…..If you pay by Direct Debit the account is unlikely to actually be in credit. Your payments will have been calculated so that when your last payment is made in March 2023 you will have a zero balance. It’s possible that your account may look as though it is in credit during the year dependent on when your payments are due.

If you do not pay by Direct Debit you are required to have credit on your account to ensure you are paying in advance in line with your tenancy agreement and the amount will depend on the frequency of your payments for example weekly payers a week in advance, monthly a month etc.

If the credit is the result of a payment from Universal Credit or Housing Benefit in most cases we will not be able to issue a refund to you.

Where can I find out details of my charges from April 2023?

You will receive a Notification of Rent and Other Charges letter on or before 6th March 2023 and this will give you a full breakdown of your rent and service charges for the next year.

I have received a letter about my new rent and service charges from April 2023, but I receive Housing Benefit and it doesn’t mention that

You don’t need to do anything! You will receive another letter in the next couple of weeks which tells you what your housing benefit entitlement will be from April 2023.

I have received a letter about my new rent and service charges from April 2023, but I pay by Direct Debit do I need to do anything?

No, you don’t need to do anything if you pay by Direct Debit. Your new payments from April will be calculated automatically and you will receive a further letter before the end of March telling you what your payments will be.

I receive Universal Credit to help with my Housing Costs do I need to do anything?

Yes, you will need to update Universal Credit with your new Housing Costs information. You will need to keep checking your online claim on or after 3rd April 2023 as you will be set a ‘to-do’ by the DWP to update the ‘Where you Live and What it Costs’ section of your claim. Don’t worry we will send you a letter just before which will give you instructions on how to update your Housing Costs or you can contact us Monday to Friday 8.30am until 5.00pm on 0161 217 6016 option 3 if you need some assistance.

How many Rent Free Weeks are there in 2023/2024 and when are they?

There are 4 rent free weeks in 2023/2024 and they are:

  • Week 1 – Week commencing 03/04/2023
  • Week 14 – Week commencing 03/07/2023
  • Week 39 – Week commencing 25/12/2023
  • Week 52 – Week commencing 25/03/2024

You will only benefit from the rent free weeks if you have a clear rent account.

If you pay for your rent monthly the calculation will have already taken account of the free weeks (48 charges divided by 12) so you will pay the same amount every month and don’t then pay less on the months when the free weeks occur.