When we review our rents and service charges each year, the Welsh Government says that we must make sure that they are affordable for current and future tenants, and that we set service charges which are reasonable, affordable and offer value for money.
We have transformed the way we work with customers who live in our homes through the delivery of our bespoke neighbourhood coaching and support offer. We aim to build relationships and trust with our customers instead of only interacting with them when there’s an issue. This allows customers to approach us before they reach a crisis point and enables us to work with them on all areas affecting tenancy sustainability including health, support, finance, education and much more.
What does my rent and service charge cover?
Rent is payable on your property for the cost of providing, managing, maintaining and improving your home. The money we raise through rent collection goes back into providing services and maintaining our homes. Your rent helps to pay for the following services:
- Repairs, maintenance and buildings insurance of homes
- Improving homes to make sure they reach government standards
- Providing essential services in the community
- Funding the neighbourhood housing, income and support services that benefit our customers including helping with neighbourhood issues and collecting rent
- Building new affordable housing for rent and sale
What does my service charge cover?
Service charges are paid for the specific services you receive from us and usually relate to the shared areas in and around your home. Services provided to your home can differ depending on the type of property you live in or the area surrounding you.
The charges for each service are based on the actual cost of providing that service the previous year. Most service charges are eligible for housing benefit and Universal Credit.
This year, the challenges in the economy have led to increased costs. Hafod can buy in bulk to make sure the cost increases are as low as possible and we make every effort to keep the prices as low as we can. However, this year, due to the very high levels of inflation there will be an impact on service charge costs, especially the cost of gas and electricity.
Although Hafod can get the best energy prices possible by buying in bulk, we cannot benefit from the price caps offered by the UK Government Energy Bills Support Scheme. This is because these caps are for domestic supply only. Instead, Hafod receives support from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses. This scheme limits the unit costs of gas and electricity between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023. This has reduced the cost of energy significantly, but it is still higher than in previous years. We don’t know what help the government will give after March 2023.
The amounts charged in your new service charges are based on what we actually paid in 2022. Therefore, the full impact of the energy increases in 2023 won’t be seen in your service charges until 2024.
To reduce the impact on your service charges, we are continuing to work hard to reduce energy use in our properties:
- We are working with our contractors to find simple ways of using less energy, like adjusting heating controls and installing efficient LED lighting, and using automatic sensors on communal lights
- We are investing, where we can, in technologies like solar to help reduce energy use
You can also help to reduce these costs, here are some ideas how:
- Switch off lights that aren’t in use
- Close doors to ensure heat stays within the building
- Report faults to us promptly
Why does my rent and service charge change each year?
Rents are reviewed annually with new rents being communicated to customers by the end of January each year for introduction from April each year. Government guidelines tell us how to review your rent.
Your service charges are also reviewed. Changes to service charges are related to the actual cost of delivering the services in the previous year.
This year, we needed to cover increasing costs as well as continuing to make rents as affordable as possible. Despite the increase in costs, we have made sure that the rent increases are below inflation.
Findings from the latest STAR (Survey of Tenants and Residents Survey) in 2021 illustrated that of 482 respondents, 71% felt that their rent provided value for money.
If you need to discuss your rent or service charge please contact us.